Digital Connection Important for VacationsRather than taking a vacation to get away from email, cell phones and computers, new research suggests having easy online access is now a prerequisite for many travelers.

Michigan State University researchers say the digital divide appears to have disappeared given the proliferation of personal information devices. And technology provides new ways to share memorable vacation events.

“Not that long ago, travelers would need to find a payphone or send postcards to brag about their vacations. Now they just log on and send photos and text,” said Christine Vogt, Ph.D., MSU professor of community agriculture, recreation and resource studies, and a co-authored of the study.

“Our results show clearly how the changing nature of IT behavior in everyday life is spilling over into our vacations.”

The study showed that people using smart phones have tripled. The study also revealed that wireless use was higher on vacation (40 percent) than at home (25 percent).

Also telling, were figures that show that people used the Web more to plan vacations (80 percent) than for work (70 percent).

“Travelers are using their laptops and phones more often, and not just to plan vacations,” Vogt said.

“Since Wi-Fi is available at most destinations, tourists are checking local weather forecasts, transportation schedules, restaurant recommendations, fishing reports, safe bicycling routes and much more.”

Some researchers say the use of computers, iPads and smartphones is addictive. It looks like the habit doesn’t take a vacation, either, says Vogt. Future research will give the tourism industry insight on the best ways to serve vacationers’ online needs.

“We hope to conduct more research across the various stages of vacations,” Vogt said. “This will help vacation service providers better understand what information travelers are looking for during trip planning and how it differs from the details they’re searching for after arrival.”

The study results will appear in the forthcoming issue of Annals of Tourism Research.

Source: Michigan State University