The olden days of road travel conjure images of Chevy Chase as the Griswold family patriarch loading up the family station wagon and relying on trusty road maps and travel guides to direct a safe course to the ultimate summer vacation destination. The modern Griswold, however, would likely depend on a much different travel guide – his smart phone.

And the advertising community is quickly taking notice of the enormous mobile marketing potential that rests with the station wagon road warriors of America – a large segment of the population that annually takes to the highway for an extended summer getaway bound to include plenty of hotel stays, dining experiences, and sight-seeing adventures.

Illustrating the growing value of the mobile platform for many travelers, a new study by analytics firm Compete reveals that 38% of smartphone users perform some aspect of “travel research” on their internet-enabled mobile phone. Incredibly, 28% use their smartphones to reserve or book some components of their vacation activities.

Better than 30% of respondents to Compete’s survey also revealed using a mobile phone to monitor everything from the status of a flight to the availability of hotel rooms at a given location.

The survey discovered, however, that travelers rely much more heavily upon the mobile web than mobile applications, a situation that will likely please many mobile marketers looking to capitalize on the enormous advertising potential of this growing community of mobile users. Compete’s findings reveal that 22% of mobile users research a “specific transportation company’s or hotel’s website,” with a comparable percentage using their smartphones to look into a specific travel agency’s website.

Given the findings of this most recent study, it’s safe to add the travel and hospitality industries to the growing list of industries growing in lockstep with the rapid expansion of the mobile web’s popularity and commonplace utility.