With 85% of consumers planning to travel the same amount—if not more—for leisure in the next five years, according to the recent “Future of Travel Report,” travelers’ expectations from service providers will grow in tandem with their desire for more tailored travel experiences.
The report was revealed at the start of the American Express Retail Travel Network Learning Forum & National Summit, a three-day conference gathers company executives, suppliers, and the U.S. Representative Network, which consists of franchise agencies who use the American Express Travel brand and have access to its programs and benefits, to set the course for the year ahead and beyond.
Personalization: The New Definition of Luxury
Gone are the days when luxurious travel was marked by fine china and extravagant tours. Today’s travelers seek highly personalized, meaningful experiences away from home: 76% of survey respondents said that personalized service can make or break a trip, and 63% would be in favor brands using personal data to deliver a more-personalized experience.
Where High-Tech Meets High-Touch
While technology keeps getting smarter, faster and more cost-effective, the human touch will be what differentiates unforgettable travel experiences from those that are simply good. Almost all survey participants in the U.S. (92%) said that using a travel professional completely or somewhat enhanced their travel experience. Additionally, 88% of respondents from the U.K. prefer to book flights, hotels and activities with the assistance of a person during travel.
Although travelers can easily toggle between high-tech and high-touch services, technology will help make routine travel tasks and destination research easier, while a travel professional can help with the emotional highs and lows of travel, such as helping with cancelled flights, lost luggage or making changes to an itinerary during a trip.
The hotel industry is also working to leverage technology to help provide more premium service: they will increasingly automate processes such as check-in and room service to free up staff to shift toward higher-value problem-solving and cultural orientation duties.
The American Express Future of Travel survey was completed online by 1,007 U.S. consumers who have traveled for leisure at least 2 times in the past 5 years. The survey was conducted by The Futures Company between May 26 and June 3, 2015 and the results reported in this release have an overall margin of error of +/- 3.1 at the 95 percent level of confidence. While this report focuses on the U.S. results, data was also collected in the U.K., Mexico and China.