If you are one of the hundreds of millions people worldwide who will fly this year, your travel choices and selections are being influenced by the connected economy. Whether you are a smart and well-informed travel planner, a “relaxed nomad” ready to roam without stress or strife, or a deal-seeker on a budget, technology is transforming your travel experience in a way that makes it even more accessible and frequent, new research shows.

According to a new study from the CMO Council’s GeoBranding Center and AIG Travel, What’s Changing the Way You Travel Today?, today’s diverse leisure travelers are smarter, more informed and better prepared than ever before. Beliefs, values and interests are influencing where, how and why people travel. Technology and service innovations are making it easier and cheaper to discover, reach and enjoy travel destinations. While deals, specials and promotions are driving desire and action, visually enriched and personalized digital content channels are making travel experiences more alluring and exciting.

The research, centered around a survey of more than 2,000 leisure travelers by Pollfish this summer, yielded some notable statistics. Nearly half of those polled say the Internet and device connectivity makes travel better. A further 42 percent believe technology innovations and advancements across all modes of travel have improved the experience, and 38 percent say these tech advancements have helped them find deals, discounts and destinations more easily.

CMO Council study explores impact of technology on travel experience

More than 51 percent of travelers surveyed say great deals and discounts are what prompts them to make a travel booking. Easier, do-it-yourself travel planning is also a major factor for 32 percent of travelers. Other influences are referrals from family and friends (29 percent), exciting images or video (21 percent), and interesting stories or articles (21 percent).

“We’re in the thick of a monstrous growth in global travel,” said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, which operates the GeoBranding Center, in a news release. “The message from today’s leisure traveler is clear: Travel brands from airlines and resorts to destination and location marketers need to be digitally empowered and data-driven in their go-to-market practices. The impact and influence of how people find, select, book, secure, share and rate their travel experiences in the connected economy has brought on record travel numbers that are not likely to slow.”

When asked to identify the top travel planning innovations and developments in recent years, 49 percent of those surveyed pointed to online travel booking sites and booking assurances, including insurance coverage. An equal percent highlighted deal or discount availability. Other marketing strategies and inducements that also rated highly by respondents included:

  • Loyalty programs with upgrades, privileges, and travel benefits (34 percent)
  • New ways to discover, source and receive personalized travel deals (33 percent)
  • Promotional incentives and options (28 percent)

A notable 46 percent of respondents said online travel aggregators and booking sites (Expedia, Travelocity, Booking.com, etc.) did the best job of assisting and satisfying travelers today. They out-performed travel agents (32 percent), lodging and hospitality sites (hotels, resorts, B&Bs, etc.), as well as travel deal and savings sites (Travelzoo, CheapTickets, etc.), which both received a 19 percent share of the vote.

“Advancements in technology have revolutionized the way consumers can now customize travel to better suit individual trip preferences and budget, including how travel insurance is researched and purchased,” said Jeff Rutledge, CEO at AIG Travel, in the release. “As consumers take more control over their travel booking process, all members of the travel industry must step up to deliver a seamless booking experience which, for the travel insurance segment specifically, means guiding travelers to the right products and services for their particular trip.”

Factors most influencing travel choices tended to be more about passions, self-interests and destination appeal, rather than travel issues or concerns:

  • Special interests, hobbies and diversions (43 percent)
  • Security, stability and friendliness of destination (36 percent)
  • Adventure, recreation or sports pursuits (30 percent)
  • Culture and history of the local people (29 percent)
  • Destination geography and diversity (29 percent)

Surprisingly, only 15 percent relied on their social media networks to help shape their travel choices, and just eight percent pointed to political ethics, human rights practices or prejudices in travel locales as a consideration when choosing travel destinations.

CMO Council study explores impact of technology on travel experience

When asked to characterize the type of traveler they were, most respondents selected more informed, relaxed and deal-seeking to best describe their approach to travel. Most prevalent travel types included:

  • Smart, well-informed planner (31 percent)
  • Relaxed nomad – easygoing and flexible (25 percent)
  • Deal seeker on a budget (22 percent)

Less common were those that felt nervous, stressed and anxious when traveling (13 percent) and fewer yet thought they were thrill-seeking and adventure-bound (5 percent). Topping the list of reasons why survey participants did not travel more frequently were:

  • Too many distractions or obligations in my life (19 percent)
  • Don’t like crowds or discomforts of travel (17 percent)
  • Lack time and a compelling reason (14 percent)
  • Too much anxiety, stress and danger (10 percent)
  • Hassles and headaches of travel (8 percent)
  • Difficulty and complexity of planning for travel (7 percent)

Download the full report here.

The research was conducted in Q3 of 2018 and highlights the results of a survey fielded to 2,000 adults in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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