Travellers may want better value, easier personalisation and smarter technology, but right now they can still be a little hard to find

It is fair to say that technology is transforming so much of our daily lives, and travel is no exception. Latest research from Travelport has confirmed just how important it is to today’s travellers, whether they’re seeking the best value flights, booking a personalised itinerary or managing their trip on the go. Based on responses from 23,000 travellers in 20 countries, its Global Digital Traveler Research 2019 reveals some key trends that are shaping today’s travel industry and predicted to be the market disruptors of the future.

Leading this, it says, “value is more important than cost, but it can be hard to find”. When booking a flight, responses show value is a top priority for over four out of five (86%) travellers with less than one in five (18%) now booking solely on cost. This trend is apparent across all age groups led by Baby Boomers (91%) who prioritise value marginally more than younger generations.

The research shows that to find offers of value, travellers “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, travellers 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%).

Travellers also want “more control and transparency when it comes to personalisation,” highlights Travelport. Across all age categories, when booking a flight, the research indicates travellers typically want to personalise 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 personalisation.

When attempting to personalise their experience, however, a growing number of travellers 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%). Travellers 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%).

Travelport also says “a wide range of technologies are now influencing decision making”. Nearly three quarters (71%) of travellers 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 travellers have reviewed videos and photos posted by travel brands on social media, up +2% on 2018. One third (36%) of Gen Y travellers today “nearly always” do this in the research phase, according to the Travelport research. 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 travellers (48%) now believe augmented or virtual reality experiences would help them better plan their trips. Demand is greatest among Gen Y (61%) travellers, though still significant among all other age categories.

Travelport also notes that demand “continues to rise for technologies that make travel easier to manage.” Nearly half (45%) of travellers today get frustrated when they are unable to access their booking information round-the-clock on mobile devices, such as smartphones and smartwatches, up a significant +9% on 2018. When it comes to age groups, frustration is particularly high among Gen Y (50%) and Gen Z (47%) travellers, but is also maintained among others.

Nearly half (44%) of travellers have now used voice search to help manage travel, with use greatest among Gen Y travellers (61%) and lowest among Baby Boomers (12%). One quarter (25%) of Gen Y travellers today ‘nearly always’ use the technology for this use. When the technology is used by travellers, some of the most popular requests, according to the research findings, 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 travellers, 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%).

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