Survey: Travel Brags Are Essential to Travel Experience

DALLAS—The advent of social media has changed how people share what’s going on in their lives. Often a mix of selfies, political rants and baby photos, there’s something else appearing in status updates—the “travel brag” has crept into the digital ecosphere. 

The travel brag has become a social norm for millennials, and it’s an essential part of a vacation, according to a Hotels.com survey. If it’s not on social media, it didn’t happen—right?

The Hotels.com Mobile Travel Tracker (MTT) survey identifies new trends on how consumers use mobile technology when they plan and go on trips.

Digging into the data, here are some of the highlights:

  • Eighty percent of American 18-29-year-olds that use social media apps while traveling consider themselves much happier with their smartphone device (34%).
  • Two out of three American (66%) 18-29-year-olds admit they would rather upload a selfie than a picture with their loved ones (62%) on vacation.
  • Twenty-eight percent of people wouldn’t enjoy their vacation without their smartphone in their hand.

“The findings provide valuable insights for how and why people are using mobile devices to enhance their travel experiences,” said Josh Belkin, North America VP & GM, Hotels.com, based here. “While most travelers prefer to be connected, our data shows millennials are among the highest group of users and are also the most connected on their mobile devices.”

It appears that likes on a social post are more important than the actual experience of travel. The MTT revealed that millennials tend to travel brag on social media to build kudos and likes amongst their friends and faux friends on social, explained Belkin.

“In fact, 30% admit to spending over four hours a day on their mobile devices. They are more interested in capturing the perfect Instagram-worthy photo than actually enjoying their travels. But they need the experience to get that photo; it can’t be the same as everyone else,” he said. “Millennials are using their vacation as an opportunity to travel brag and take selfies or ‘welfies’ from their ‘activacations.’ From uploading pictures to their social channels, checking in at cool locations, doing live feeds, snaps and stories to capture the best food photo and tracking the amount of interaction on their posts, millennials are glued to their phones to keep up with their friends.”

While millennials tend to focus on using their mobile devices while on vacation, most travelers enjoy having their mobile devices when they are away.

“One-third of travelers refuse to book a hotel that doesn’t offer free WiFi, so it’s clear that being connected is an important part of traveling today,” he said. “Other generations of travelers certainly cop to a travel brag post now and then; they just do it less frequently and differently. For example, millennials say snapping a selfie is what they share most often; for other generations, it’s a photo with others or of landmarks. However, when spending time on social media while traveling, older millennials/younger Gen Xers are doing the top three items the same as millennials at nearly the same rate—browsing updates from friends; checking in at places to brag; and posting photos to brag.”

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