Restoring trust in travel can go a long way towards boosting industry recovery and stimulating purchasing behavior found a study released this week by travel solutions provider Travelport.
The global analysis conducted over the March 19-29 period by Edelman Data & Intelligence on 11,000 travelers across 10 countries identified four trust gaps: price transparency, Covid-19 health and safety, data privacy, and information credibility – which if addressed effectively can potentially accelerate the pace of travel industry recovery.
“This study has shown, as an industry, we are not as trusted as we would like. The good news, however, is that we now know what the issues are and we also have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hit reset, as countries re-open and travelers eagerly get back on airplanes. If we move quickly to address these issues, we can accelerate industry recovery as well as the modernization of travel retailing,” said Greg Webb, CEO at Travelport.
A closer look at the findings reveals the two most important factors in building consumer confidence in travel agencies and suppliers, such as airlines, are having ‘no hidden costs’ (55 percent) and ‘fully flexible or refundable products’ (45 percent). More than half found industry performance in both to be poor with travelers in New Zealand and Australia to be the most disappointed.
“The request from consumers here is clear; the time has come to eliminate hidden fees and improve the overall transparency of pricing and communication,” said Webb.
More than half (56 percent) of travelers polled said the travel industry has done well in implementing Covid-19 health and safety protocols, adding however, that they would like more reassurance on how robustly some measures are being enforced, in particular, improved air filtration, social distancing and managed boarding and queuing.
Webb goes on to note that “travel suppliers and agencies will benefit from being clearer in their communication on certain measures, like social distancing”.
Only four out of 10 travelers (40 percent) reported that they currently trust travel companies to use their personal information in the right way – a feeling that is stronger among Baby Boomers (33 percent) and Gen Z (36 percent) respondents.
Study participants said they are less comfortable when personal information is sourced indirectly, for example, through social media activity (35 percent), public records like credit scores (37 percent), and past shopping, search and booking behavior with other companies (40 percent).
According to the research, the most trusted sources of travel-related information that travelers use when researching a trip are those perceived to have aligned interests: friends and family (67 percent) and review websites (50 percent).
The least trusted are those with a clear vested interest in selling, such as social media influencers (30 percent) and celebrities (25 percent) with Gen Z being the least trusting in almost every category.
With regard to different types of travel-related information, customer ratings (54 percent) and written customer reviews (51 percent) are among the most trusted.
Third-party certification (39 percent), photos of products such as hotel rooms provided by travel companies (42 percent), and third-party ratings such as hotel star systems (43 percent) were among the least trusted.
Travelport research also found that trust directly influences purchasing behavior. Due to Covid-19, almost half (46 percent) of travelers were shown to prioritize trust over all other factors when choosing a travel supplier. Many travelers also said they will consider purchasing multiple travel-related items (48 percent), upgrade their package (43 percent) and buy non-travel-related items such as credit cards (34 percent) percent when trust is in place.
“When trust is combined with cutting-edge technology and effective sales, it becomes a powerful proposition,” said Webb.
Find the full Travelport study here.