Travel advisors continue to be popular with Millennial and Gen Z travelers, according to new research from Travelport. The company’s new Global Digital Traveler Research 2019, which surveyed 23,000 people from 20 countries, including 1,000 travelers from the United States, found that Millennial and Gen Z travelers nearly always turn to a travel agent when booking as compared to their older counterparts.
Fifty percent of Millennial and 25 percent of Gen Z respondents to the survey say that they nearly always turn to travel agents or tour operators for recommendations, as compared to only 20 percent of Gen Xers and 8 percent of Baby Boomers. At the same time, almost half (49 percent) of Baby Boomers, 44 percent of Millennials and 43 percent of Gen Xers surveyed found it frustrating not being able to speak with a human when they wanted to. Additionally, 66 percent of Millennials, 49 percent of Gen Xers, 37 percent of Gen Z and 32 percent of Baby Boomers also said that a live chat with a travel representative is an important feature in travel apps.
In fact, the report found a high degree of frustration when it comes to travelers booking by themselves online. Fifty-nine percent of Millennials said that they find booking with online travel agencies harder than shopping online for other products and services, while a high percentage of Gen Z (69 percent) and Gen X (54 percent) found it frustrating not being able to see the availability and cost of extras, such as pre-booked seats, food, Wi-Fi and baggage. The majority of travelers – 62 percent of Gen Z, 56 percent of Millennials and 50 percent of Gen Xers – said that they found the complicated rules, terms and conditions around cancellations or changes frustrating.
Other key findings from the report:
The importance of a good digital experience is critical to travelers, irrespective of their age. Gen Z (81 percent), Gen Y (78 percent), Gen X (67 percent) and Baby Boomers (60 percent) consider whether a brand offers a good digital experience e.g. online check-in, gate information, room key on your smartphone etc., as important when booking an airline or hotel. Three-quarters of Gen Y (76%) also said in-room technology e.g. smart TV, digital music player or Bluetooth speakers is important when choosing accommodation. Demand for voice search as well as augmented and virtual reality experiences is now significant. At 64 percent, Gen Y rated the highest in using voice assistants for travel and 70% think augmented or virtual reality would be useful when planning travel. The majority of generations, including Gen Y (76 percent), Gen X (59 percent) and Baby Boomers (48 percent) are comfortable using biometrics.
Channels like social media are opening new opportunities to land bookings and have increased in influence. Instagram is considered most influential by Gen Z (71 percent), while Gen Y find both Facebook and Instagram influential (64 percent and 25 percent, respectively). Facebook tops the influence list for Gen X (70 percent) and Baby Boomers (58 percent). Gen X (43 percent) rated the highest in using social media for researching and booking travel on social media platforms, while smaller proportions of Gen Y (30 percent), Gen Z (29 percent) and Baby Boomers (24 percent) did.
Globally, some additional trends stood out. Value is more important than cost for the majority of travelers, but can be hard to find. Travelers also indicate they want more control and transparency when it comes to personalization:
- When booking a flight, value is a top priority for over four out of five (86 percent) travelers today with just one in five (18 percent) now booking solely on cost. This trend is apparent across all age groups led by Baby Boomers (91 percent) who prioritize value marginally more than younger generations.
- Across all age categories, when booking a flight, travelers typically want to personalize their own experience (42 percent) through add-ons like extra legroom, additional baggage allowance and meal upgrades. One quarter (24 percent), however, prefer to receive branded offers, which provide a basic level of personalization.