Business and leisure travellers naturally expect that the rapid improvement in technology and connectivity should improve their experience when they travel. However, the reality can be very different. Travel suppliers are increasing complexity through the unbundling of their products and introduction of ancillary services, the Internet often provides an insufficient means of navigating the vast array of travel options and only basic mobile functionality is available in most regions.
What will change in the future? Will large players such as Google make significant strides to improve the travel search process? Will other global travel brands emerge to assist the consumer in not only booking their trip but inspiring them and offering relevant options when they are travelling?
Travelport engaged The Futures Company to conduct global research into the whole of the end to end travel process consumers undertake from inspiration to shopping and booking to post trip evaluation.
The Internet has brought choice and information to all, but the vast quantity and in some cases poor quality of that information has left some feeling as though technology is a hindrance and therefore consumers are still largely using offline travel companies for support. Travelport's research revealed how, despite wanting greater choice, the time required to research options is the most frustrating part of booking travel. Whilst many websites concentrate on selling air and accommodation only, our research also indicates that travellers like to book multiple services and add-ons at the same time (e.g. insurance to chauffeur transfers).
Travellers clearly need to feel they are getting a good price and in this area there is good and bad news. Travel supplier unbundling of products has made price comparisons even more difficult for consumers, with both business and leisure travellers struggling to understand total trip costs that include not only air fare, but also baggage fees, etc. Some improvements are being made. Meta-search companies such as Sprice.com are helping consumers by offering both choice and independent price comparisons to save consumers the time of trawling many different websites.
Globally, people are regularly engaging with friends and family through social networking sites thereby increasing the influence on the choice of supplier and destination for travel. No-one will deny the power of review sites such as TripAdvisor that are already well used by travellers. However, travellers are increasingly looking for more personal advice, so websites that offer suggestions from ‘friends' are proving invaluable.
Travelport's research showed that consumers in certain regions are still looking for what would be considered basic messaging via their mobile devices to help them whilst they are on their journeys. At the other end of the scale, mobile services are emerging that allow users to interact with others based in the same geographical location. Such interaction happens on a real time basis and so is likely to drive global mobile penetration at an even faster rate than the Internet via desktops. Countries such as India and China are expected to skip the desktop-based revolution which requires a good broadband network, moving straight to the more readily available mobile Internet platform.
The emergence of the Well Connected Traveller is changing the face of travel commerce - for consumers, suppliers and everyone else involved in the travel value chain. Read on for further insights and trends from Travelport's global survey of travel consumers and prepare yourself for the next generation of the well connected travellers.
The Well Connected Traveller: Survey Methodology
To crystallise what travellers are doing now - why they travel, how they plan and book trips, and what services they value most - Travelport working with The Futures Company and Lightspeed Research conducted a survey in early 2010 of more than 12,000 people in 12 countries around the world.
Travelport's online Consumer Travel Trends Survey involved a minimum of 1,000 travellers per country with quotas for the number of international, domestic, business, and leisure trips taken, and the type of transport used, such as air, rail and car to ensure accurate values and opinions.
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