The standard of digital experience offered by airlines, hotels and travel agents now carries significant influence over the booking decisions of young British travelers, according to the findings of Travelport’s Global Digital Traveler Research 2019, which surveyed 23,000 people from 20 countries.
Two thirds (67%) of millennial travelers in the UK now actively consider whether an airline offers a good digital experience when booking a flight, while half (51%) consider it when choosing accommodation. Half (48%) also get frustrated when booking information isn’t available round-the-clock on mobile devices, such as smartphones and smartwatches. This compares to one third of Gen X travelers (34%) and just one in five baby boomers (20%).
Nilo Srinivasan, Head of Account Management for the United Kingdom at Travelport, said: “Demand for high-quality digital experiences is notably high among all travelers, but is especially important to millennial travelers in the UK. This shouldn’t come as a surprise bearing in mind just how high the bar has been set in recent years by trailblazers in travel and other industries; as well as the fact this age group are digital natives. Demand for a good digital experience does mean that businesses should now really be offering them as standard; with differentiation and the deepening of engagement with customers achieved through excellence.”
Travelport’s study also revealed that two fifths (40%) of UK millennials now want augmented or virtual reality experiences to help them better plan their trips, compared with a quarter (26%) of Gen X travelers and one in ten (12%) baby boomers. Other findings also show how two fifths (38%) of millennial travelers in the UK have used voice search to help them manage travel, with one in ten (12%) ‘nearly always’ using the technology for this. Some of the most popular questions millennial travelers in the UK ask their voice search capable devices relate to information about the weather at their destinations (53%) and directions to their hotel (49%).
Sirinivasan added: “We expect the range and sophistication of questions asked through voice search to expand exponentially as more travel specific capabilities are introduced. easyJet is a great example of a company embracing voice search. The Speak Now feature on its app, developed by Travelport, will enable customers to search for flight options in a matter of seconds. And it’s not just about speed. Importantly, features like this also help make travel booking easier and more accessible for the visually impaired.”
According to the study, when researching a trip, four fifths of millennial travelers in the UK (83%) have now reviewed videos and photos posted by travel brands on social media and a quarter (27%) ‘nearly always’ do this. Facebook is considered the most influential social media platform by millennials in the UK. This view is shared by Gen X travelers and baby boomers, however, Gen Z travelers put Instagram ahead.
Sirinivasan continued: “So much content today on social media is travel related. According to Adweek, 52% of Facebook users are dreaming about holidays when on the channel, even when they aren’t planning a specific trip. This makes social media not only a fertile environment for inspiration but also an exciting channel for converting looking into booking. We’re seeing more and more companies take advantage of this.”
When booking a flight online, half (52%) of millennial travels in the UK today want to personalize their experience through add-ons like extra legroom and additional baggage allowance. However, when attempting to do so, three fifths are currently left frustrated by not being able to understand what is included as standard (60%) and not knowing what add-ons are available to them (62%). Two fifths (39%) also get frustrated when companies don’t remember their preferences.
Sirinivasan concluded: “Travelers today want more control and transparency when it comes to personalizing their trips. The results of our study show the travel industry has work to do here. However, new industry standards, as well as merchandising products like Travelport’s Rich Content and Branding, are moving us firmly in the right direction. 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.”