Four Points by Sheraton Survey On Mobile Habits Of Business Travelers

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

When today’s road warriors hit the trail, they are armed with three or four mobile devices to help them stay connected to office and home.

That’s one of the findings of a hotel business and technology study commissioned by Four Points by Sheraton, a Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. brand. The survey polled a total of 6,000 business travelers globally: 1,000 each from the United States, the United Kingdom, China, India, Germany and Brazil.

Four Points, with the second largest brand pipeline in the Starwood portfolio, is growing rapidly across nearly 30 countries and carefully monitors the needs and habits of business travelers as part of its commitment to remain ‘best for business’. Four Points is perfectly positioned to help keep business travelers connected, offering fast, complimentary WiFi in public spaces at all of its hotels around the world. Complimentary in-room Internet access is also provided across the entire North American division.

Brian McGuinness, Starwood’s senior vice-president, specialty select brands, says, “The Four Points study contains compelling results, including evidence that trends such as staying in touch with family via video chat – preferred even over email, text and phone – are accelerating. The study affirms that the Four Points brand is meeting a continued need by offering complimentary WiFi or in-room Internet access, and by continuing to expand bandwidth throughout the portfolio. We know what our business travelers want and we don’t nickel and dime them – we just deliver it.”

Key findings of the study include:

  • The majority (55%) of respondents bring three or four devices with them on the road. This is true across all nationalities. Brazilian respondents were more likely than others to juggle five or more devices while traveling (27%), while Germans were the least device-dependent, with 33% reporting they travel with only one or two.
  • Among devices carried, smartphones are #1 (74%), followed by tablets (65%), music players (43%) and laptops (32%). Chinese respondents were the only group to bump laptops out of the top four, in favor of cameras (30%).
  • Business travelers are glued to those smartphones. After landing, the majority (54%) turn on their smartphone while the plane is still taxiing on the tarmac, while 12% –Oh! Oh! — never turn it off in the first place. The remaining respondents wait until they’re in the terminal or settle into their taxi/car (17% each).
  • Checking their smartphone is also the first thing respondents do when they wake up in their hotel (36%). Only 19% turn on the TV first and 18% take a shower first. Checking Facebook (12%) ranks fourth, while checking Twitter and calling home share a distant fifth (7%).
  • Tablets beat laptops. Nearly seven in 10 respondents (68%) use their tablet more often than their laptop, and accordingly a similar number (69%), if told they could take only one of the two on the road, would choose to travel with their tablet.
  • For most respondents, the primary purpose of traveling with mobile devices is to keep up with email on the road (90%). This is followed by Internet browsing and social networking (75%), and maintaining communication with the office (73%). Least popular: reading a book (43%).

In addition to all their hand-held technology, the majority of respondents report that they have visited a hotel business center (66%). They mostly do so to print business items (93%). They are also inclined to use the business center to print personal items (87%), check social networking (87%) and check email (86%).

Overall, respondents are likely to subscribe to between four and seven RSS news feeds (46%), although respondents from India are more likely to subscribe to only one-to-three (55%). Reuters is by far the most popular news feed at 21%, followed by the BBC (15%) and The New York Times (7%).

And more than 60% of total respondents believe that traveling with technology makes their lives significantly easier and more convenient. However, the majority of German respondents report their lives are only somewhat eased by technology (53%), and 14% of Germans believe it makes life harder.

The study also looked at the use of emoticons (72%) and video chat/conference (67%) and, in a fun discovery, the majority of respondents report that when they’re traveling, their spouse/partner is more likely to surprise them with a sexy video chat (56%) than have flowers delivered to their room (17%) or mail them a card (12%). Brits and Americans have a slight edge on this particular perk (61% each), while Brazilians are more likely to be left out in the cold (44%).

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