Consumer expectations of travel tourism brands have shifted amidst the pandemic, and travel brands are primed for change powered by more personalized, values-driven experiences.
According to Appnovation’s latest consumer research, Digital Innovation for the Experience Economy: Travel & Tourism, the majority of travelers are ready to get back to local travel destinations, with 21% of travelers anticipating that they’ll be comfortable with international travel within six to twelve months and 28% in a year or more. Travel brands that integrate digital into customer-first experiences will thrive as the industry rebuilds and travelers regain confidence.
Appnovation’s research measured American and Canadian consumers’ sentiment around travel readiness amidst the pandemic, as well as their expectations of Travel & Tourism brands in relation to their digital experiences when planning and booking travel.
- Prior to the pandemic, day trips were the most popular form of travel. Day trips were the most popular form of travel for American tourists (64%), similar to their Canadian counterparts (71%). Americans were more likely to travel within their country, with 58% taking out-of-state trips, compared to only 44% of Canadians.
- Americans are keen to get back to traveling, but at their own pace. Just under half of Americans say they’re ready to travel out of state (49%) or internationally (24%), compared to only 33% of Canadians being ready to travel out of province now and 14% ready to travel internationally now. Traveler confidence gets higher as travelers look to the future.
- Cautious approach to the safe restart of travel. A third (33%) indicated that they would only feel comfortable to travel again once COVID-19 is gone or nearly gone. A quarter of people reported they would feel comfortable to travel once they and most people at their destination were fully vaccinated.
The Digital Customer Experience
- Travel brands must optimize the digital experience. Only 16% of travelers rate the current digital experience offered by destination organizations as ‘Excellent’, rating the digital experience of booking platforms slightly higher, at 19%. However, this indicates that there’s room for improvement.
- Travelers expect an exceptional digital experience customized to their needs. American travelers ranked easy navigation and up-to-date information as the most important factors (18% and 19%). A user-friendly design (16%) was ranked the second most important factor for a memorable online experience, meaning the user is able to easily and intuitively accomplish what they want.
- Resources for trip inspiration vary amongst regions. Travelers are visiting destination websites for information around accommodations (71%), places to visit (69%), things to do (62%) and dining recommendations (59%). When planning travel, Americans are more likely to use social media (28%) as a resource for information than Canadians (17%).
“Now is the time to reimagine the digital experience for the traveler,” said Anton Morrison, VP, Experience Design at Appnovation. “Whether they’re planning, booking or experiencing a vacation, travelers are more cautious. That means there’s likely more research and more digital interactions happening before they’re ready to make a decision. It’s never been more important to invest in a digital experience that serves the relevant information they need alongside the inspiration they want.”
Travel Brands Should Focus on Values-Driven Experiences to Exceed Consumer Expectations
Customers ultimately value a seamless omnichannel experience that combines innovative, adaptive and convenient digital experiences with personalized and seamless in-person ones.
Three Actions Travel Brands Must Consider
- Focus on the customer. Different generations value different things when it comes to the online experience. It’s important to understand what the customer wants and how they’re behaving at every step of the journey in order to deliver a best-in-class experience.
- Provide personalized, data-driven experiences. By collecting and analyzing data, travel brands can create data-driven experiences that are personalized to the individual customer. When this happens consistently, customer loyalty and trust follow.
- Implement scalable, flexible technology to achieve this flexible and agile CX. Technology that allows for personalization, scalability and the addition of new channels as customers’ expectations evolve is essential.
The full report can be read here.