Mobile usage behavior within the travel experience across the African continent

African travelers are thinking mobile now more than ever, according to an independent research study.

The Africa Travel Research Study, commissioned by Amadeus, has just been released and was conducted by research-led strategy consultancy, Inquisition, to explore existing mobile usage behavior within the travel experience across the African continent. 2,500 people were surveyed through mobile phones across seven countries: Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa. These were people who had traveled up to 12 months prior to the study and who were in the 18 to 44 age range.

“While we’re aware that more than 90% of travelers have smart phones, we wanted to find out directly from African travelers which travel services they found the most valuable on their mobile phones,” commented Vincent Hoffmann, Director of Strategy, Inquisition, when releasing the study results to Amadeus.

Juan Torres, General Manager East Africa, shared his own insight into the study when he commented that: “The research shows that while travelers still rely on travel agencies to book travel, having a shop and website isn’t enough anymore. Travelers are constantly connected and expect to access the information they want, through their chosen channel, on their chosen device at any given time. This is particularly true of our Kenyan travelers for whom connectivity is a key priority. Travel agencies should look to offer some form of mobile solution offering to meet the demands of the modern traveler in order to stay competitive.”

Further key findings from the report have shown:

• Travel planning happens in a relatively short time frame.

- 51% booking less than 1 month before departure.

- Comparatively, this was higher in Kenya with 68% booking less than one month before departure.

• African travelers require the ability to interact with their mobiles at every step of the journey, before, during, and after their trip.

- 46% of African travelers require the capability to manage hotel requirements including booking, itinerary management, and amendments. In Kenya, 53% use their phone to change hotel bookings.

- 37% of African travelers have in the past 12 months booked accommodation via a smartphone.

- 55% of African travelers require integration with social networks to connect with friends and share trip details. In Kenya, this rate was much higher - 65% of Kenyans have integrated their social networks so as to share their trip.

- Travelers are willing to trade social network data in exchange for discounts and offers related to their behavior.

• A third of the respondents have travel apps on their mobile phones.

- Discovery of apps is primarily via social networks, applications stores, and friend recommendations.

- Travel apps, which offer help to travelers to orientate themselves and which act as a virtual tour guide are most popular these being Google Maps, TripAdvisor. and Google Currency Converter.

- 47% of Kenyans use the Google Maps app to find their way around.

• Online and mobile payment options result in a low level of trial usage.

- Only 48% of Kenyans are most likely to have paid for a service or good via smartphone. This is lower than both South Africa (53%) and Nigeria (63%).

- Kenyan travelers are split in their usage of payments on mobile phones: 43% stated No, while 48% stated Yes.

- On the need to make mobile transactions, 43% of Kenyan travelers haven’t had the need to, while 47% have security concerns to do so.

- On making payments, 18% of Kenyan travelers do so directly to travel agents while 43% are likely to use debit/credit cards saved on their phones.

- Of the countries surveyed, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Angola are least likely to have previously transacted with a debit/credit card on a mobile phone.

Mobile phones provide near complete access to Internet across much of the continent, and data collected across all markets show that African travelers are ready and willing to transact on mobile and online platforms.

Source: eTN