"Mobile Internet Device, Beijing", by Cory M. Grenier on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Making big travel plans on small screens is becoming “the norm” as people increasingly pull out a smartphone or tablet to research — even book — their vacation time.

Four in five travelers say they travel with their mobile phones, relying on their devices to serve as personal tour guide — not just checking email but also taking photos, accessing maps, and locating nearby attractions.

The growth of mobile has been significant over the past few years, doubling among business travelers and more than quadrupling among leisure travelers.

And they’re not just looking: an increasing number of travelers want to complete their transaction on the same day. Just since last year, the number of people making reservations via a mobile device jumped to one in three — a trend that’s just as popular in the under 35 crowd as among those 55+ plus.

What does this mean for your business?

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to think about how mobile might impact your vacation rental business, that time is here. People rely on their devices before and after they hit the road, and preparing your business — online and offline — may not be as complicated as you think.

Make sure your website is mobile friendly

Start accepting online bookings

  • Online bookings in the vacation rental industry are pretty low, so it’s still a “nice to have” that can give you an edge over the competition. But change is coming and sites like HomeAway, FlipKey and VRBO make it easy to turn this option on.

Include free wifi

Give guests something they can download

  • Devices are great when you’re traveling — as long as you can connect to the internet. They’re less helpful when you’re out on the town with no easy way to get online. Consider creating a PDF version of your local guide that they can save to their phone or tablet and carry with them, including information like local attractions (with addresses), emergency contact numbers and maps of the local area.

How have mobile devices impacted your vacation rental, or the way you travel? Tell us about it in the comments below!