Travel brands have an enormous opportunity to capitalise on a growing consumer backlash against digital noise by offering tailored advice and personalised experience, according to new Mintel research exclusively revealed at WTM London 2018 – the leading global event for the travel industry.
Mintel’s Global Consumer Trends: Opportunities for the Travel Industry presentation will draw on the organisation’s in-depth understanding of today’s consumer in order to highlight ways in which travel companies can make the most of emerging global consumer trends to remain relevant.
Delegates will hear that holidays are expected to be one of the best-performing sectors in terms of expenditure growth in the next few years, up 16% from 2017-2022. That compares to a forecasted 3% increase in tech spend.
In addition to prioritising experiences over material possessions, consumers increasingly want their experiences to be more personalised. Mintel’s research says: “One-size-fits-all is dead. Consumers now see personalisation as a right, not a privilege.”
But experience holidays don’t have to offer anything too radical. Sometimes offering an experience can just mean giving consumers the option to escape the beach for a day and head into a local city.
Consumers also face a ‘digital dilemma’ in that they expect to be connected wherever they go, yet also have a desire to switch off from tech.
Research author Paul Davies, category director of travel, leisure and foodservice research at Mintel, said: “Consumers find themselves in a catch-22.
“On one hand they want and expect to be able to connect to brands and services wherever they are, but on the other hand they want to escape technology in an effort to switch off and slow down.
“The travel industry continues to do a great job in providing consumers with the digital tools they require in order to discover places and communicate with brands, but a focus on holidays that provide an ‘analogue experience’ will appeal to those who want to escape technology.
“This does not mean banning the use of devices, but placing a renewed focus on how quieter, lesser-known destinations can prompt holidaymakers to put down their smartphone and take a moment to relax and reflect.”
The research also reveals that 31% of consumers trust the quality of a holiday more from a travel agent compared to online, increasing to 38% of Millennials.
Davies added: “Whilst Millennials are typically more tech-savvy than older generations, they are often less confident about making big financial commitments based on information found online. When it comes to booking a holiday many Millennials are visiting selected destinations or using travel brands for the first time. This makes them more likely to seek out expert face-to-face advice from travel agents they feel they can trust.”
The presentation will also reveal that Millennials are just as privacy-conscious as older generations but they are also more willing to share their data in exchange for benefits.
“Millennials already have a larger ‘digital footprint’ that most other generations, prompting many to have concerns about the amount of information they have stored on brand websites and social media.
At the same time they are the most likely to show interest in the benefits that data sharing can bring, namely personalised services, recommendations and offers. If brands are able to convince consumers of a strong value exchange, then Millennials are the most likely to share their data,” Davies explained.
And, despite fears to the contrary, package holidays are thriving, Davies added: “Package holidays are far from dead. In fact Mintel forecasts that the value of the UK package holiday market (for overseas trips) will increase by nearly 10% between 2017 and 2022.
“However the sector needs to adapt to embrace greater demand for customisation in order to sustain growth. Millennials are the group most likely to be willing to pay extra for package holidays that are tailor-made to their preferences, highlighting a clear opportunity for providers that offer more flexible packages.”
WTM London press and PR manager Paul Nelson said: “This fascinating Mintel research reveals that, far from being killed off, travel agents can not only survive in the digital age but thrive by offering trustworthy advice, while tour providers that can offer a more personalised holiday experience will also do well.”
Mintel’s session Global Consumer Trends: Opportunities for the Travel Industry takes place on Monday November 5 from 12:00-13:00 in the Press Conference Theatre situated in the International Media Centre ME580.
eTN is a media partner for WTM.