New study looks at how technology can support travel recovery

Airplane
A new study examines what travelers want from technology. Photo credit: Serjio74/Getty Images via Newscred

To gain more insight into how the travel industry and governments can work to rebuild traveler confidence, travel technology company Amadeus commissioned research to learn more about travelers’ top concerns and what types of technology would help them feel safe and comfortable enough to travel and help spur recovery of the travel sector.

How Technology can Boost Recovery

Amadeus’ "Rethink Travel Global Survey" found that technology plays a crucial role in supporting recovery, with 84 percent of travelers saying technology would increase their confidence to travel in the next 12 months by addressing concerns around mixing with crowds, social distancing and physical touchpoints.

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When asked about technologies or technology experiences that would increase confidence to travel in the next year or make them more likely to travel, survey results show:

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  • 42 percent of respondents say mobile applications that provide on-trip notifications to inform about localized outbreaks and changes to government guidance would help boost their confidence to travel.
  • 42 percent of travelers cite contactless and mobile payment options such as Google Pay, PayPal and Venmo as key to reducing incidences of physical contact throughout the journey. 
  • 34 percent of travelers who have concerns about traveling in light of COVID say biometrics (i.e. facial or voice recognition) that enable check-in, pass-through security and boarding without the need for physical checks would make them more likely to travel. 
  • 33 percent of travelers agree they would like one universal digital traveler identification on their phone that includes all necessary documentation and immunity status so they only had to prove it once. 

Notably, the survey found that technology receptiveness and preferences differ by country and demographic, underscoring the importance of personalization in gaining traveler trust. Insights include:

  • Almost half (47 percent) of baby boomers said they would need to be able to socially or physically distance throughout the journey in order to feel comfortable traveling, compared to less than 3 in 10 (27 percent) of Generation Z.
  • Over half (52 percent) of travelers in Singapore who have concerns about traveling in light of COVID selected contactless experiences at hotels as a technology that would make them more likely to travel, while almost half of Indian travelers who have concerns about traveling in light of COVID (47 percent) selected mobile applications that inform them of the destination city’s safety measures.
  • For French travelers, automated cleaning processes (36 percent) and  contactless and mobile payments (34 percent) were the most popular of the suggested technology options. 
  • A quarter (25 percent) of U.K. travelers and just over a quarter (26 percent) of U.S. travelers said they’d most like technology to reduce the need for them to have physical documents. Additionally, 3 in 10 German and U.K. travelers (30 percent each) said they’d most like technology to minimize their physical contact with others. 

 The top five things travelers would most like technology to do when thinking about travel are: 

  • Reduce queues and congestion in public spaces (38 percent) 
  • Minimize face-to-face or physical contact with others (31 percent)
  • Protect financial data and personal information (31 percent)
  • Notify in advance when there is a delay (29 percent)
  • Ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of national test, track and trace programs (28 percent)

Survey results show that the top five ways to build traveler confidence under current conditions are:  

  • Provide access to flexible change, cancellations policies and payment terms to avoid losing money (39 percent)
  • Limit the number of passengers on a plane (38 percent)
  • An ability for travelers to socially or physically distance themselves throughout the journey (36 percent)
  • Having visibility to and assurance of sanitization, hygiene and safety measures in hotels and accommodations (36 percent)
  • Effective test, track and trace programs in place (34 percent)

“This research provides a source of optimism for the industry as many of the travelers’ concerns can be addressed by technology available now, at every stage of a traveler’s experience,” said Christophe Bousquet, chief technology officer at Amadeus. “Whether it is new mobile applications, biometrics or contactless solutions, we need to explore together as an industry and with governments how best to accelerate adoption if we are to encourage global travel, which is a major driver of global prosperity.” 
 
The research also shows that certain areas, such as social distancing and hygiene, remain a cause for concern for travelers during the journey itself, Bousquet continued. “We will continue to work side by side with our customers in order to increase awareness around the safety and sanitization measures that have been introduced. For example, recent research from the International Air Transport Association has shown the extremely low rates of transmissions onboard aircraft due to cabin air-filtering systems and other protection measures in place. By giving travelers easy access to the information they need to be assured of their safety while traveling, and giving them tools that address their individual preferences, we can build traveler confidence and speed up recovery.”
 
Stefan Ropers, president of strategic growth businesses at Amadeus, said the travel and tourism sector needs to overcome industry silos to build a better experience by connecting the travel ecosystem: “For example, via digital identity management, linking every step of the traveler journey.”

Thanksgiving Travel Trends

As Americans approach what is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year—the day before Thanksgiving—many people want to know if it will maintain its status, albeit under very different circumstances as COVID-19 cases continue to rise again. Amadeus is seeing a positive trend in U.S. hotel bookings the week of Thanksgiving. While overall occupancy remains below 2019, there are many areas showing higher occupancy levels one week out, indicating the 0-7 day booking window has increased slightly. 

“For the summer holidays of Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day, we saw a steady occupancy build-up from weeks three to two to one, with Labor Day at a final occupancy of 41 percent,” said Katie Moro, VP of data partnerships, hospitality, Amadeus. “For Thanksgiving, occupancy levels are trending higher compared to the summer holidays, and we are encouraged by seeing a number of markets with occupancy above 50 percent and in some cases nearing 80 percent.

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