American Express Travel is taking the pulse of travelers and coming up with some insightful trends in travel. A new survey, released this week at a yearly conference held this month in Orlando, FLA spots three new prime movements in travel, according to consumers, that were not necessarily so significant in the past: the demand for guidance, the demand for experiences, and the need to work with agents in spite of diligent research.
Travelers Want More
- The leading guidance offered to customers is the ‘whole package’
74% of travel counselors say their customers are asking them to shape the entire trip, followed by 60% who help in finding the best destination and experience that is right for their customers, while 53% guide their customers who’ve done their research but need help in uncovering deals.
- Virtually all (96%) travel counselors said they’ve had more (56%) or the same amount (40%) of repeat customers this year compared to last year.
- Travel counselors noted they book an average of five trips for their repeat customers – 37% between three to eight trips and 33% more than eight trips.
Traveler Buying Behaviors
- 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 – is their most important tool over the next five years.
Changing Industry Landscape
While the Internet continues to prove it is a useful resource, travel counselors are valued for their ability to personalize travel experiences.
- 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% 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%).
Key Impacts on Travel
Travel counselors also noted the most impactful developments in travel this year, including:
- 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%)
The survey amassed response from some 350 travel counselors working with franchises that are part of American Express Travel’s U.S. Representative Travel Network.