In late 2018, TravelPort announced the results of their 2018 Digital Traveler Survey highlighting the digital needs most important to travelers. The survey collected responses from over 16,000 business and leisure travelers from over 25 different countries. Several interesting travel trends emerged during the survey.
This article highlights the key takeaways from TravelPort’s 2018 report and provides both commentary and predictions on travel technology trends over the next few years.
TravelPort (TVPT) provides a travel commerce platform that addresses all aspects of the travel supply chain.
Predictions & Analysis of the TravelPort 2018 Digital Traveler Survey Travel Trends
Several key travel trends were identified in the TravelPort Digital Traveler Survey:
- Trend #1: New technologies continue to grow in prominence
- Trend #2: Mobile travel tech remains important, but travelers want a smoother, consolidated experience
- Trend #3: Tech is great, but it simplify and enhance the travel experience
Below, is a deeper look at these three travel trends, along with commentary from the CBoardingGroup and travel tech predictions.
Travel Trend #1: New travel technologies continue to grow in prominence
Innovative new technologies like mobile pay and voice search make significant pushes into the travel experience. Here are several travel trends that emerged in the new technology domain.
Voice Search for booking travel increases in popularity
Summary of Travel Trend: Over half of survey respondents used voice search to look for and book travel or while traveling. This is up 3% from previous years.
Commentary: The rapid adoption of Alexa, Ok Google and Siri in consumer homes combined with their availability on most mobile devices make this travel tend completely unsurprising. What is surprising to the CBoardingGroup is the potential loss of privacy that voice search technologies (which are always “listening”) that travelers are willing to cede.
Prediction: Voice search technologies will soon dominate over 75% of travelers likely as soon as 2020. A significant privacy breach (related to voice search companies) will occur within the next 5 years, but the pace of adoption will remain unabated.
Mobile pay capabilities are highly sought after
Summary of Travel Trend: Everyone wants to pay using their mobile phones (especially business travelers). 55% of business travelers surveyed and 47% of leisure travelers feel that the ability to pay using Apple Pay / Google Pay is a hugely important.
Commentary: The CBoardingGroup find this survey result completely unsurprising given the technological improvements in this technology in recent years combined with the increased adoption by brick and mortar stores. Moreover, the documented willing increase in travel frequency of travel by younger, tech savvy Millennial travelers plus intriguing developments in new forms of electronic payment in the form of cyrptocurrency create the perfect conditions for the rise of mobile payments.
Prediction: Older travelers will continue to eschew the use of mobile pay – preferring to use more traditional methods like credit card. However, within 3 years nearly 100% of establishments will support mobile payment technology and it will become the predominant form of payment. Cryptocurrency will continue to make slow, but steady inroads, likely taking much longer to reach widespread adoption given technological challenges. Ultimately, Cryptocurrency will become the primary (perhaps only) form of payment within the next 10 years.
You might be interested in Travel News: Ripple Added as Payment Method to Leading Travel Website — CryptoCenterNews.
Hotel mobile apps are increasing in demand
Summary of Travel Trend: People want to skip the front desk. Over half of travelers would prefer to skip the front desk and check into their hotel rooms via mobile devices with a similar amount willing to use their phone as a room key.
Commentary: People don’t want to wait. They also don’t want to interact with people as much anymore preferring instead to interact with their social media networks virtually instead. This trend is not all the surprising to the CBoardingGroup, but the fact it’s so high was a little surprise.
Prediction: Within 10 years, hotel front desk clerks will be all but extinct. Kiosks combined with strong mobile app solutions will be the primary means of hotel check in. Remaining hotel employees will consist of cleaning and maintenance staff.
Travel Trend #2: Mobile travel tech remains important, but travelers want a smoother, consolidated experience
Travelers want efficiency and they want their travel plans to be smooth. Less interaction with unnecessary people (where technology is perfectly suitable) whenever possible. And tech in general is fine, but it needs to contribute to a more consolidated, smoother and meaningful experience.
Use of smart phone to book travel is undisputed
Summary of Travel Trend: TravelPort notes that nearly half of all respondents used their mobile phone to book some or part of a trip. China is the undisputed leader in this category with almost 100% of surveyed respondents using mobile devices to book or pay for travel.
Commentary: Statista reports that the number of people who have phones will reach 4.68b in 2019. With this many phones in peoples hands, plus the ability to travel with relative ease combined with continual emergence of travel tech innovations, this trend is also not surprising. China’s nearly 100% adoption is somewhat surprising, however. That said, given they have the WeChat app which, as the TravelPort report acknowldges is sort of a Facebook-Twitter-Venmo-Slack combined app, it’s likely this unified experience plays some role here.
Prediction: Continued adoption of mobile apps for booking will increase, however it will continue to simply be an extension of traditional web booking companies (like Orbitz, Travelocity, etc). Google’s travel features will continue to rise, perhaps offering the only real chance to aggregate and consolidate this experience in meaningful ways.
Everyone is using mobile apps to improve their travel experience
Summary of Travel Trend: 90% of all travelers now use various mobile apps to improve their travel experience. Social media, mapping, airline apps and weather are the most popular. Of the most popular features, the ability to search and book flights, real-time flight alerts and a consolidated view of the traveler’s itinerary were the most sought after features with over 60% rankings for all three.
Commentary: The proliferation of mobile apps has affected all industries including the travel industry. Thus, this travel trend is no shocker. The only surprising element here was that fact that while the desire to have a consolidated view of your travel itinerary is high, the actual adoption of tools that provide this is low (see next travel trend, below).
Prediction: Market consolidation will occur with a few winners coming out on top as the de facto travel apps. Those that integrate with the non-travel aspects of travelers lives will be more likely to succeed given the tight integration with daily scheduling and tracking.
Itinerary management, however, is less popular
Summary of Travel Trend: Ironically, while tech is on the rise, only 1/5 of those surveyed indicated they use itinerary management software while traveling.
Commentary: The CBoardingGroup finds this result unusual. Given the importance travelers place on the feature of itinerary management itself, it’s surprising that only 1/5 of respondents use the tech. Perhaps this is an indictment of current itinerary management providers or lack of consumer awareness. It may also reflect that many leisure travelers book their travel from a variety of sources, thus complicating efforts to aggregate itinerary information into a consolidated view. Sounds like a good problem for Google to solve.
Prediction: Universal itinerary management apps (those that span multiple booking platforms) will increase in popularity as an overlay solution to the growing need. This company will ultimately be acquired by a leading travel platform. Google’s travel offerings will continue to grow.
Travel Trend #3: Tech is great, but it must simplify and enhance the travel experience
Unnecessary or useless tech is pointless. But tech that simplifies and enhances the travel experience is wildly loved (like digital boarding passes).
Digital boarding passes are wildly popular
Summary of Travel Trend: 2/3 of respondents in the survey are very happy with the recent switch to mobile boarding passes.
Commentary: The CBoardingGroup is hardly shocked at this result. Mobile boarding pass technology has radically improved in recent years and the ability to check in online and receive a mobile boarding pass is incredibly useful. Travelers do not want to interact with additional people on their journeys, wait in lines, or print physical boarding passes.
Observational evidence suggest that roughly 2/3 of people traveling are in fact using mobile boarding pass technologies.
Prediction: Kiosks will decline in popularity over the next 5 years. Instead airlines will direct travelers to use mobile boarding passes only. While a few kiosks may remain to service “legacy” travelers, the hassle of use will drive more and more passengers towards mobile technologies.
Travelers willing to trade privacy for speed
Summary of Travel Trend: Travelers indicate a willingness to trade privacy for speedier security processing while traveling. Over 3/4 of all travelers surveyed were willing to use biometric scanning if it improved the speed of their security processing.
Commentary: The CBoardingGroup continues to be surprised at the willingness of people to readily give up their privacy. However, any traveler who’s spent 45 minutes in a security line is probably ready to give up any and all privacy just to get through the security line at that point. Moreover, privacy in general has become something of an illusion in recent years. Society seems to be trending towards a willingness to accept little to no privacy in return for security or expediency.
Prediction: DNA-based airport security systems will become mainstream (and relatively affordable) within 15 years. Think Altered Carbon.
Final thoughts on Digital Travel Trends
The 2018 Digital Traveler Report is fascinating, if not unsurprising. Anecdotally, most fellow travelers would agree with most of the results of the survey. The CBoardingGroup was largely NOT surprised by much of any of the findings noted therein, but it is still helpful (and important) to gather and document these types of travel trends.
Here at the CBoardingGroup we are hopeful that travel tech continues to improve – particularly for our key demographic: business travelers.
Readers can download the Full Report here.
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Key Reference: https://www.travelport.com/company/media-center/press-releases/2018-11-13/travelers-say-technology-key-their-travel-experience