Stats: 73% of U.S. Consumers Want Innovation in Travel

When considering whether to buy travel products, services or experiences, 73 percent of leisure travelers care “a lot” or “somewhat” about whether those offerings are innovative, according to a new study from travel insurance and assistance provider AIG Travel. The company surveyed 1,700 U.S. consumers for their thoughts on innovation in the travel industry. 

While 79 percent of the poll respondents reported being either “pleasantly surprised” or “fairly comfortable” when they hear something has changed or is about to change, Millennials (ages 23-38) are three times as likely (15% vs. 5%) as traditionalists (ages 74 and older) to “eagerly await” an innovation in a travel-related service that they’ve used consistently. Conversely, traditionalists are nearly three times as likely as Millennials (17% vs. 6%) to react with ambivalence or annoyance when learning that such an innovation is forthcoming.

In terms of the single most innovative travel development over the past century, 79 percent of consumers cited the Wright brothers’ first flight. The debut of GPS car navigation systems came in second (56%), while the first commercial passenger flight came in third (50%). Other travel developments that rated a 1 on an innovation scale of 1-6, with 1 meaning “most innovative,” included:

  • First transatlantic flight (50%)
  • Advent of online travel booking (43%)
  • Debut of wheeled suitcases (33%)

Only 17 percent of the polled consumers rated the advent of ride-sharing services (i.e., Uber and Lyft) a 1 for innovation, and only 15 percent of respondents rated the launch of home-sharing services (such as Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO) a 1. Other innovations that some of those surveyed rated a 1 for innovation included the debut of:

  • Expedited airport security/Customs/immigration processing programs — i.e., TSA Pre✓, Global Entry, CLEAR (30% of respondents scored these a 1 for innovation)
  • Bullet trains in Europe (23%)
  • Seat-back entertainment systems (21%)
  • The Concorde jet (20%)
  • In-flight Wi-Fi (17%)
  • Self-service kiosks for ticketing/check-in (17%)
  • Suitcases with tracking technology (15%)
  • Frequent-flyer reward programs (13%)
  • Suitcases with USB charging ports (10%)
  • Vacation time-share properties (3%)

Finally, when considering whether to buy travel products, services or experiences, 60 percent of respondents feel it’s important that the provider of these offerings has been around for 75 years or more. While 25 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 55-73) agree that this is important, only 7 percent of Millennials do.

AIG Travel distributed the Pulse Poll from May-June 2019 to consumers who identify as interested in travel, including followers of the brand’s social media channels and people on its U.S. direct marketing email list. The survey received 1,761 responses from May 17-June 17, 2019. A majority of respondents (68%) reported having traveled three to 10 times for leisure in the prior 12 months, while most (77%) shared that they had traveled internationally between one and five times during that time frame.

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