Travelers want more, reports a new American Express Travel survey of its U.S. Representative Travel Network. 74 percent of travel counselors say the guidance their customers are asking them for is the “whole package,” to shape their entire trip.
60 percent say guidance is needed to help find the best destination and experience that is right for their customers, while 53 percent guide their customers who’ve done their research but need help in uncovering deals, the survey says.
Nearly 350 representatives completed the survey exploring trends in customer service and spending, along with the evolution of their relationships with customers.
The results were announced during the American Express Travel Retail Network National Summit, which kicked off this week at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate in Orlando, FL.
- Virtually all (96%) travel counselors say they’ve had more (56%) or the same amount (40%) of repeat customers this year compared to last year.
- On average travel counselors booked five trips this year for their repeat customers based on 37 percent reporting booking between three to eight trips and 33 percent more than eight trips.
- Travel counselors describe the most typical customer attitude toward travel – more than two in five (44%) say cost/savings is a key consideration, but a similar percentage (40%) say eagerness to take trips and spend on memorable experiences is also typical for their customers.
- In terms of spending, more than two in five (41%) travel counselors say their customers spent an average of $2,500-$4,999 per trip this year, followed by one-third (33%) who spent $5,000-$10,000.
- Travel counselors reported an increase in customer spend on accommodations (59%), room/cabin upgrades (59%) and tours/excursions (51%).
- One-half of travel counselors say “resources” – the ability to access deals and relationships with suppliers – will likely be their most important tool over the next five years.
While the Internet continues to prove it is a useful resource, travel counselors are valued for their ability to personalize travel experiences the survey notes.
- Six in ten (60%) travel counselors describe their typical customer’s attitude as overwhelmed by options on the internet and need expert help. Travel counselors are equipped for these consumers given 61 percent provide the distinct value of personalized attention, followed by experience (17%), efficiency (16%), and savings (6%).
- Nearly half of travel counselors (48%) encourage their customers to conduct research online prior to reaching out, as it can create a more effective exchange (10%), and is helpful in the beginning stages of planning a trip (38%).
Travel counselors also noted the most impactful developments in travel so far this year include:
- Increased accessibility to emerging destinations (46%) – such as Croatia, Iceland and Vietnam, among others noted to be on the rise
- Airline mergers (36%)
- Global expansion of hotel brands (4%)
- Introduction of new long-haul aircraft (4%)