Travelers across the world are increasingly prioritizing value over cost, demanding more autonomy over personalization and using digital solutions to research and manage their trips. These are among the findings of Travelport’s Global Digital Traveler Research 2019, which surveyed 23,000 people from 20 countries.
Value is more important than cost but it can be hard to find
• When booking a flight, value is a top priority for over four out of five (86%) travelers today with just one in five (18%) now booking solely on cost. This trend is apparent across all age groups led by Baby Boomers (91%) who prioritize value marginally more than younger generations.
• To find offers of value, travelers ‘nearly always’ use a combination of travel review sites like TripAdvisor (42%), price comparison sites like Kayak.com (38%), recommendation sites like Kiwi.com (36%) and have conversations with travel consultants (31%).
• But when shopping online, travelers have mounting frustrations when it comes to knowing which companies they can trust (50%, up 6% on 2018). They are also frustrated by not knowing whether online reviews are genuine (50%) and the time required to find the right option (43%).
Travelers want more control and transparency when it comes to personalization
• Across all age categories, when booking a flight, travelers typically want to personalize their own experience (42%) through add-ons like extra legroom, additional baggage allowance and meal upgrades. One quarter (24%), however, prefer to receive branded offers, such as Flexi and Saver, which provide a basic level of personalization.
• When attempting to personalize their experience, however, a growing number of travelers are getting frustrated by not being able to understand what is included as standard (52%, up 12% on 2018) and not knowing what add-ons are available to them (56%).
• Travelers are also increasingly frustrated by companies they regularly use not remembering their preferences (35%, up 4% on 2018). Frustration with this is most prevalent among Gen Y (39%).
A wide range of technologies are now influencing decision making
• Nearly three quarters (71%) of travelers today consider it important whether an airline offers a good digital experience when booking a flight, up +3% on 2018. Over half (58%) also consider this when choosing accommodation, up +7% on 2018.
• When researching a trip, three quarters (77%) of travelers have reviewed videos and photos posted by travel brands on social media, up 2% on 2018. One third (36%) of Gen Y travelers today ‘nearly always’ do this in the research phase. Facebook is considered the most influential social media platform by all age groups except for Gen Z, which puts Instagram marginally ahead.
• Nearly half of all travelers (48%) now believe augmented or virtual reality experiences would help them better plan their trips. Demand is greatest among Gen Y (61%) travelers, though still significant among all other age categories.
Demand continues to rise for technologies that make travel easier to manage
• Nearly half (45%) of travelers today get frustrated when they are unable to access their booking information round-the-clock on mobile devices, such as smartphones and smartwatches, up 9% on 2018. When it comes to age groups, frustration is particularly high among Gen Y (50%) and Gen Z (47%) travelers but also maintained among others.
• Nearly half (44%) of travelers have now used voice search to help manage travel, with use greatest among Gen Y travelers (61%) and lowest among Baby Boomers (12%). One quarter (25%) of Gen Y travelers today ‘nearly always’ use the technology for this use. When the technology is used by travelers, some of the most popular requests made are for information relating to the weather at their destinations (60%) and getting live traffic updates (54%).
• Technology, however, is not always the answer. Two fifths (42%) of travelers, for example, find not being able to speak to a human frustrating, up from 38% in 2018. This view was shared consistently across all age groups, though highest among Baby Boomers (43%).
Commenting on the findings of the research, Travelport’s Chief Customer and Marketing Officer, Fiona Shanley said: “Travelers are consumers too and they want an experience from travel providers and travel agents that is as simple and engaging as the best retailers. Travelport’s latest global research shows that technology is key to this – from serving relevant and personalized offers to providing attractive propositions from trusted sources. With increasing adoption of emerging technologies and use of new industry standards, this is precisely where the industry is heading. At Travelport, we will continue to accelerate developments in all these areas, and more, to help the industry keep pace with the rapidly evolving needs of the modern traveler.”