By Mark Abramowitz, VP Marketing, SiteMinder
Today’s era of travel is being labelled as ‘The Age of Connection’ as technology and human guidance continue to merge together to personalise a travel experience.
That’s the conclusion of a new report from American Express, titled ‘Future of Travel’, which surveyed more than 1,000 consumers who have travelled twice for leisure in the last five years.
Around 85% of respondents said they plan to travel the same amount – if not more – for leisure in the next five years. They also expect that service providers, such as hotels, will adapt to their increasing desire for a more tailored experience.
So, what does the future of holiday experiences look like according to the travellers themselves?
1. They will look for a more personalised travel experience
More than 75% of those surveyed by American Express said a personalised and meaningful experience can make or break a trip, and 63% said they would support a hotel or other travel service provider, using personal data to deliver an experience that’s specifically tailored to them.
“Travellers today are highly diverse and resourceful, and they are looking for travel providers who can deliver this,” said Yana Gutierrez, vice president, strategic partnerships and representative travel network, for American Express Travel.
“Based on our research, we believe that our industry will thrive if we continue to focus our talent and digital resources on addressing the needs of the individual and offering them the connection – to people, experiences – that they seek.”
2. They will seek human interaction to compliment technology
Despite the continuous innovation of technology, travellers say the human touch will be the aspect that differentiates unforgettable travel experiences from those that are simply good.
Almost all survey participants in the US (92%) said using a travel professional, completely or somewhat, enhanced their holiday experience. Additionally, 88% of respondents from the UK prefer to book hotels and alike with the assistance of a person during travel.
Travellers said they believe technology helps make routine travel tasks and destination research easier – such as when they visit online travel agents to compare their hotel options. They also said a trusted travel professional can help with the emotional highs and lows of a holiday experience, for example lost luggage or help enhancing an itinerary during a trip.
The report flagged the hotel industry as an example of a sector working to leverage technology to help provide a more premium service. Processes such as check-in and room service will become increasingly automated, allowing hotel staff to focus on enhancing the guest experience.
Many hotels are already using integrated technology, such as an internet booking engine like SiteMinder’s TheBookingButton, to build a rapport pre-arrival and secure guest loyalty post-departure. And the personalisation that travellers increasingly look for also comes into play here, as the emails are fully customisable by the hotel, ensuring the message really speaks to guests.
3. They will be happy to combine luxury and budget travel options
Many respondents said the cost of a holiday can be a barrier – more than 70% of US millennials agreed, followed by 58% of Gen Xers, 49% of baby boomers, and 45% of mature travellers. These holidaymakers told American Express that in the future they will find a way to travel on their own terms, even if that means combining luxury and budget extremes within the same holiday experience.