Today's vacationers overwhelmingly turn to the Internet and Web-enabled consumer electronics to make virtually every part of their summer getaways easier and more enjoyable. According to a new survey conducted for SBC Communications Inc., three-fourths of respondents say they are likely to go online while planning their trips to check prices, buy tickets and make reservations. Families are also relying on the Internet during their trips, with two in three respondents saying they are likely to use the Web to e-mail friends, family and co-workers, get maps and directions, and send digital photos home. In addition, seven out of 10 respondents expect to use Web-enabled devices such as digital cameras, laptops and digital music players during vacation.
Findings from the national survey of 500 households with Internet access shows that having Internet access while traveling is especially important for vacationers with devices that have wireless (Wi-Fi) capabilities. Half say a high-speed Internet connection is an important factor in choosing where they stay, and one in four is joining the growing trend of seeking out and using Wi-Fi hot spots at airports, restaurants or other locations during their trip.
Internet Use Before, During and After Vacations
The Internet has now become a primary source for vacation planning, with three-fourths of survey respondents likely to go online to prepare for their trips. Ninety-two percent of travelers who plan to use the Internet for vacation planning are likely to check prices for hotels or air travel, 88 percent expect to look at maps of vacation routes or destinations, and 84 percent are likely to check on activities in the area. Forty-five percent of people who own a digital music player are likely to create a vacation song mix from their online music libraries. Thirty-nine percent of PDA and laptop owners are planning to download maps and directions, and about a fourth of travelers expect to download maps, music or videos to their electronic devices before their vacations. Additionally, among those who will use the Internet to do vacation planning:
-- 78 percent purchase airline tickets or make hotel or rental car
-- 75 percent look up phone numbers and addresses
-- 59 percent order brochures or literature
-- 44 percent read reviews and opinions from other travelers
The Internet's popularity during vacations also applies to Web-enabled electronics, with 79 percent of respondents owning one or more high-tech gadgets, and seven out of 10 planning to use at least one of them during their vacations. Overall:
-- 55 percent of families own a digital still camera. Nearly 30 percent of all vacationers are likely to send digital pictures to friends, family or co-workers while they are away.
-- Four out of 10 own a digital video camera, and 86 percent of them will likely use it on their trip to capture family video they can later upload to a Web site or send via e-mail.
-- 36 percent have a laptop, and over half of them plan to use it during vacation.
-- Three in 10 own a digital music player, and 66 percent will likely use it on trips to listen to music while on the go.
-- One in four has a Wi-Fi-enabled device, and half of them plan to use it on their trip for activities like checking e-mail.
-- 19 percent have a PDA, which more than half of them will likely use on vacation to view maps or directions they downloaded from the Internet.
Checking e-mail is among the most popular activities for tech-savvy households, with half saying they can't survive more than a week without it. Vacationers are more likely to e-mail friends and family than the office -- only 21 percent are likely to correspond with work while 42 percent are planning to keep in touch with family and friends.
"Vacation is a special time for most families, and they don't want to spend it hassling over details. They recognize that high-speed Internet service and high-tech gadgets help them take care of the details and stay entertained during their trip, so they have more time to relax," said Deven Nongbri, director, SBC Marketing. "After their trip, the Internet gives vacationers a fast, easy way to make their memories last until next year, by e-mailing photos to family and friends or uploading vacation movies and photos to a Web site."
Even though travelers are excited to send photos from their trips, there is one photo that proves that men are still from Mars and women from Venus. Nearly 60 percent of women said they wouldn't want a photo of them wearing a bathing suit e-mailed to friends and co-workers versus only 27 percent of men.
Internet use doesn't stop after the vacation is over, with 80 percent of summer travelers expecting to use e-mail or the Internet to share their vacation experiences after they get home. Seventy-one percent are likely to e-mail friends about their vacation experiences, half are likely to e-mail pictures from their trip, one fourth are likely to use an online photo processing service to print photographs, and 23 percent are planning to post pictures or video to Web sites.
This summer, more than 44 percent of Americans are planning leisure travel for the 2004 summer and will take more than 334 million trips from June through August, according to the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA).
The survey was conducted on behalf of SBC Communications Inc. by I/H/R Research Group, which interviewed a nationwide sample of 500 respondents ages 21 and older. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, at a 95 percent confidence level.