September 03, 2013

Travelers prefer online for booking, apps for holidays, and email for reminders


A new report surveyed 4000 consumers in the UK, US and Australia to uncover the expectations and behaviors of modern travelers. The findings indicate that travelers’ preferences differ depending on the channel they are using at the time of interaction.

SDL released the findings from its latest survey in a report “The Modern Traveler: A Look at Customer Engagement in the Travel Industry.” In this report, SDL illuminates consumers’ habits as they relate to the travel industry – specifically personal travel such as holidays or vacations.

To uncover the expectations and behaviors of modern travelers, SDL Campaign Management & Analytics surveyed 4,000 consumers in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. The findings indicate that travelers’ preferences differ depending on the channel they are using at the time of interaction.

Online: Online reigns supreme when it comes to booking travel, with nearly 80 percent of respondents making travel arrangements online. Of all the regions, the United States does far less travel booking in person at only 5 percent. With 84 percent of respondents stating that a positive online or web experience is important or very important when booking travel, the connection between the online experience and the likelihood to share a positive experience becomes critical, as the power of word-of-mouth recommendations is one of the most credible forms of information available today.

Mobile Apps: The survey respondents indicated that more than 60 percent use mobile apps when traveling. However, there are certain geographic markets leading the way in mobile app usage. At the top of the usage charts are the United States and Australia with 75 percent of U.S. travelers and 65 percent of Australian travelers using mobile apps while on vacation or holiday. This is in comparison with the United Kingdom, where less than 50 percent of the travelers use mobile apps while traveling.

Email: Results show that email is still an important channel for travelers, and it is mainly preferred for travel reminders, such as airline reservations, hotel check-in times and tickets for events. In fact, 83 percent of global survey respondents like to receive travel reminders by email with only nine percent not wanting any reminders at all.

Taking into consideration the differences in usage and preferences across these three primary channels, it’s clear that leading travel providers need to deliver consistent and contextually relevant omni- or multichannel experiences to win with today’s demanding customers. “The goal with our original research is to take a more in-depth look at specific industries as a way to discover insights on how brands can optimize their customer experience to increase engagement, revenues and loyalty,” said Bob Hale, CEO, SDL Campaign Management & Analytics Division. “With travel and tourism being identified as one of the fastest growing sectors, it is imperative that brands build and scale their customer experience management practices to meet the changing needs of customers around the world.”

The results of the new survey also show that vacation is the last vestige of relaxation with nearly 70 percent of respondents saying they unplug completely or as much as possible. And, those in the United Kingdom are the best at unplugging on holiday at 74 percent. Americans come in at 60 percent.

The digital unplug also means not tweeting about every meal or checking-in at every location. Travelers wait to share stories and pictures about their vacations via social media until after they return. While nearly one-third of survey respondents do share their vacation experience, it’s generally after they return.

Download the full report at SDL Campaign Management & Analytics (PDF 4.5 MB)