How technology influences traveler expectations

Technology is influencing consumer travel, and there is an opportunity for brands to better meet these new expectations, according to a report by Blitz, a Los Angeles-based creative agency, whose clients includes Hilton, Disney Parks and Resorts and other travel companies.

Blitz and sister agency Amp surveyed U.S. travelers between the ages of 18 and 55 who had taken a leisure trip within the past year. The survey and report, "Targeting Moments of Need in the New Travel Landscape," reveal the changing attitudes of travelers beginning with what inspires them to travel, how they plan and book trips, their experiences at the destinations and their customer-service needs.  

“Our research shows people are overwhelmed by the trip planning process but by and large they enjoy it,” said Peter Apple, VP of strategy at Blitz. “They also know they would be happier being a little more spontaneous when away from home. So a booking engine that can behave like a simplifier, or a destination that can prompt spontaneity, will drive better business. To compete in this new travel landscape, brand marketers will need to operate their brands as services.”

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Eighty-four percent of millennials are likely to plan trips based on someone else’s vacation updates and photos in social media. Marketers can create greater brand affinity and distinction by realizing how to leverage social channels differently from other marketing channels, according to the report.

“Millennials are looking for a truly original experience when they travel, and love to find that one thing that no one has found,” Giesa DiBianca, senior strategist at Blitz, told Marketing Daily. “Yet, they are also inspired by others and have FOMO [fear of missing out], so in the end they are torn between exploring for something totally new (without a review) vs. something that came with a strong recommendation and a picturesque social media post.”

Seventy-two percent of respondents said they feel overwhelmed when planning a trip. Much of their time is devoted to finding the best deals. Booking engines have an opportunity to provide consumers with time-saving experiences and better management of multiple-trip components.

Brands must balance tech with a human touch. Even in a connected world, travelers want to connect in person when they need help. Airlines, hotels and tourist attractions shouldn't be too quick to replace service personnel with digital kiosks. Instead, they must carefully select the right moments for digital interactions. For instance, 73 percent of travelers said they would be willing or very willing to receive text messages about unplanned excursions, dinners and other experiences while on vacation.