Travelers in the US are strongly influenced by the digital experience of the brands they choose to travel with and are looking to new technologies to further enhance their trips, according to Travelport’s Global Digital Traveler Research 2019.
The company surveyed 23,000 people from 20 countries, including 1,000 travelers from the US. The research showed the importance of a good digital experience is critical to travelers irrespective of age, although younger travelers did place a higher emphasis on it than older ones.
• Gen Z (81 percent), Gen Y (78 percent), Gen X (67 percent) and Baby Boomers (60 percent) consider whether a brand offers a good digital experience e.g. online check-in, gate information, room key on your smartphone etc., as important when booking an airline or hotel
• Three-quarters of Gen Y (76 percent) also said in-room technology e.g. smart TV, digital music player or Bluetooth speakers is important when choosing accommodation
Demand for voice search as well as augmented and virtual reality experiences is now significant:
• At 64 percent, Gen Y rated the highest in using voice assistants for travel and 70 percent think augmented or virtual reality would be useful when planning travel
• The majority of generations, including Gen Y (76 percent), Gen X (59 percent) and Baby Boomers (48 percent) are comfortable using Biometrics
According to the study, levels of frustration amongst travelers indicate travel suppliers need to go further to satisfy demand for transparency and simplicity:
o Gen Y (59 percent) said they find booking with online travel agencies harder than shopping online for other products and services
o A high percent of Gen Z (69 percent) and Gen X (54 percent) found it frustrating not being able to see the availability and cost of extras e.g. prebook seats, food, WIFI and baggage
o The majority of travelers, Gen Z (62 percent), Gen Y (56 percent) and Gen X (50 percent) found the complicated rules/terms and conditions around cancellations or changes frustrating
Social media is an important influencer but less important once travelers reach the ‘research’ stage:
o Channels like social media, are opening new opportunities to land bookings and have increased in influence
o Instagram is considered most influential by Gen Z (71 percent) whilst Gen Y find both Facebook and Instagram influential (64 percent and 25 percent respectively). Facebook tops the ‘influence’ list for Gen X (70 percent) and Baby Boomers (58 percent)
o Gen X (43 percent) rated the highest in using social media for researching and booking travel on social media platforms, whilst smaller proportions of Gen Y (30 percent), Gen Z (29 percent) and Baby Boomers (24 percent) did
Technology is not replacing the important of expertise and the ‘human touch’, especially amongst younger travelers:
o Gen Y (50 percent) and Gen Z (25 percent) nearly always turn to travel professionals for recommendations e.g. travel agents or tour operators compared to Gen X (20 percent) and Baby Boomers (8 percent)
o Almost half of Baby Boomers (49 percent), Gen Y (44 percent) and Gen X (43 percent) surveyed found it frustrating not being able to speak with a human when they wanted to
o Gen Y (66 percent) and Gen X (49 percent), Gen Z (37 percent) and Baby Boomers (32 percent) also indicated that a live chat with a travel representative, is an important feature in travel apps
Globally, some additional trends stood out. Value is more important than cost for the majority of travelers, but can be hard to find. Travelers also indicate they want more control and transparency when it comes to personalization:
o When booking a flight, value is a top priority for over four out of five (86 percent) travelers today with just one in five (18 percent) now booking solely on cost. This trend is apparent across all age groups led by Baby Boomers (91 percent) who prioritize value marginally more than younger generations.
o Across all age categories, when booking a flight, travelers typically want to personalize their own experience (42 percent) through add-ons like extra legroom, additional baggage allowance and meal upgrades. One quarter (24 percent), however, prefer to receive branded offers, which provide a basic level of personalization.