Perspective

Unpacking travel: What makes today’s travel consumer tick

A study from Carat Manchester has identified four key motivational trends, which influence the consumer throughout the holiday booking process.

With support from Canvas8, a leading behavioural insights consultancy, the 2018 travel trends report discusses the challenges faced by travel companies needing to adapt to the desires of consumers who are increasingly focused on personalisation and seeking unforgettable experiences.

The outlook for the year ahead looks steady, whilst taking into account that prices are set to rise – the demand for holidays will remain the same. Half of UK adults have reported that they are looking to take an overseas holiday this year, which is an increase of 3% from 2017. As to be expected the online booking travel market is continuing to grow with online visits to travel companies being 13% higher year on year in the first eight weeks of 2018.

Highlighted in Carat’s 2018 travel trends report, the four motivational trends for consumers are as follows:

1 ‘Comfortable spaces’ – in today’s world, stress in the workplace is at an all time high. Global research is suggesting that 60% of workers in significant global economies are experiencing increased stress at work. 59% of people said that relaxation is at the top of their agenda whilst on holiday.

2 ‘Streamlined standards’ – due to the never ending rise of technology and popularity of on-demand services, people now expect great service, fast delivery and outstanding quality – all for the cheapest possible price. Ambient browsing has meant that a holiday is no longer something that is always planned for months in advance, for example 22% of 25-34 year-olds in the UK choose and book their holidays within three weeks of their departure date.

3 ‘Inclusive trips’ – consumers across the board increasingly want to see inclusive brands, this ranges from catering for consumers on a basis of their religion, sexual orientation or disability. There are a range of start-ups that target those areas left unfulfilled for specific niches, such as HalalBooking or Serendipity which is tapping into the muslim market (estimated worth of £20.5 billion) and helping people booking holidays in accordance with their faith. Similar businesses cater for the gay community, or female solo travelers. By 2020, 25% of tourism spending in Europe is expected to come from consumer with accessibility requirements, meaning it will be beneficial for both businesses and consumers to become more inclusive.

4 ‘Local connections’ – nowadays, 51% of people describe themselves as global citizens, they want to feel part of an international community. Souvenirs are no longer a high demand for holidaymakers, 59% of them prioritise experiences over material items. In 2018, 35% of travellers want to try a local delicacy, and 28% want to experience a unique cultural event – gone are the days of lounging by the poolside. People want to immerse themselves with locals and want the culture to be accessible, 76% of Boomers and 62% of Gen Xers rate authentic local culture as the most important aspect of a travel experience.

5 These four motivational aspects are key for travel businesses to be aware of and to cater for, in society as it is today. There is a sense of a “me” generation, consumers want everything to run smoothly and be tailored to suit them, they want to be able to talk about their amazing experiences. For example, health and wellbeing retreats have doubled in popularity this year, so much so that Blue Worlds Cruises is now offering a wellness experience at sea.

Rachel McDonald, Managing Director, Dentsu Aegis Network North, said: ‘Britons’ appetite for holidays has remained strong. There were 45 million trips taken abroad in 2017, the highest number of holidays taken on average per person in the last five years.

“Yet people expect more from players within the travel industry. Whilst incomes may be squeezed, consumers continue to be willing to pay more to have their expectations met and to get their ideal destination. Travel businesses need to strike a balance between offering immersive experiences to an impatient audience whilst still meeting demands for convenience and comfort.”

The report, which was undertaken in partnership with leading behavioural insights consultancy Canvas8, also measures the impact “influencers” have on holiday buyers. It found that people are increasingly turning to bloggers for holiday inspiration, with 39% of travellers reporting that reading blogs or watching YouTube videos sparked ideas for holiday destinations in 2017.

Jerome Linder, Client Services Director at Canvas8, said: “The customer service that technology allows companies to provide is raising consumers expectations across the board - including in travel. And it’s resulting in new behaviours whilst on holiday. For example, ‘authenticity’ might be a buzzword, but the desire for meaningful experiences means that people aren’t satisfied with insider local knowledge of the best places to go - they want to connect with these people and make friends to go back and visit.

“The ubiquity of technology and popularity of on-demand services has left patience in short supply – people now expect exceptional experiences, and they won't accept anything less. This is the mainstreaming of diva behaviour - nobody wants their holiday to be ‘average’. Instead, they expect every aspect of the customer journey - from the booking to the flight - to be something to remember, be it a seamless, stress free airport experience or sharing a drink with members of the local community.”

Additionally, virtual reality (VR) offers holidaymakers the chance to “try before you buy” it’s also increasingly popular, particularly with gen-Y and X travellers. Tour operators including Thomas Cook and Barrhead Travel currently offer VR holiday previews, with 64% of travellers saying that they would like to try it before they go on holiday. Technology will become a huge changer in the travel market, and there is appetite for it.

This report created by Carat Manchester and Canvas8 used a combination of preliminary research to scope the behaviours, and interviews with a diverse group of holidaymakers from across the UK, to gain a deep understanding into people’s motivations when booking a holiday.

Download the report here.