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Tuesday, 17 September 2019 11:41

Digital solutions attract travellers but trust of online travel reviews an issue

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Digital solutions attract travellers but trust of online travel reviews an issue Image Yongkiet, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Travellers across the world are increasingly prioritising value over cost, demanding more autonomy over personalisation and using digital solutions to research and manage their trips – but they have encountered problems of trust with online travel reviews.

According to the findings of Travelport’s Global Digital Traveler Research 2019, despite the increased use of digital, when shopping online travellers have mounting frustrations when it comes to knowing which companies they can trust (50%, up 6% on 2018).

And they are also frustrated by not knowing whether online reviews are genuine (50%) - and the time required to find the right option (43%).

According to Travelport, 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%).

Travelport says a wide range of technologies are now influencing decision making by travellers:

  • 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 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 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.

And the survey found that when booking a flight, value is a top priority for over four out of five (86%) travellers today with just one in five (18%) now booking solely on cost – and this trend is apparent across all age groups led by Baby Boomers (91%) who prioritise value marginally more than younger generations.

Travelport says demand continues to rise for technologies- including mobile devices - 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 9% on 2018. When it comes to age groups, frustration is particularly high among Gen Y (50%) and Gen Z (47%) travellers but 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 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 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%).

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 personalised 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 traveller.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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