US Insights

Tech’s place in personal travel

Elizabeth Wilner

US Editor

Digital 07.14.2015 / 15:45

Laptop on holiday

93% say personal service can’t be replaced; 83% of Millennials would let brands track their habits to gain more customization

It's not always about having an app for that. While today's technology is making travel easier than ever, new research conducted by Kantar's The Futures Company for American Express Travel shows that future travelers will tap into both high-tech options and high-touch human service in order to achieve the ultimate travel experience. Ninety-three percent (93%) of travelers said that despite digital advances in the travel industry, the value of personal service cannot be replaced. Among Millennials alone, 83% place a premium on personalization and are willing to have brands track their habits in exchange for a more bespoke experience.

"Increasingly, travelers want to see the world on their terms with tailored, personalized and differentiated experiences that reflect their passions and needs," said Claire Bennett, executive vice president, American Express Travel, which marks its 100th anniversary this month. "The boundaries between technology and personal service are being blurred, allowing more intimate connections for travelers with the world around them. This presents travelers and our industry with innumerable opportunities for partnerships to make more memorable journeys possible."

Placing high value on experiences. The recent study, which surveyed more than 1,000 consumers on their attitudes toward travel, found that people are placing an even higher premium on the experiences they enjoy through travel:

  • 82% said they are more interested in making memories than making money;
  • 85% plan to travel as much if not more for leisure in the next five years; and,
  • 91% would rather focus on meaningful life experiences over their profession.

Personalized planning: where human touch and high-tech meet. When it comes to planning an epic adventure, travelers have a "me"-centric mindset and want to be involved in all aspects of the trip - from preparing an itinerary to documenting and sharing their experiences with others. In addition, travelers are not looking for a cookie-cutter experience: 85% of respondents said a customized itinerary is far more appealing than a pre-packaged one, and 72% would spend more time planning a trip that is tailored to their interests. Additionally, 90% of respondents say they appreciate the efforts of a travel professional to customize an experience based on their preferences.

Human touch is irreplaceable. Contrary to the perception that technological advances can replace human customer service, the study's results show that the personal touch remains critical, with 93% saying they feel the value of personal service cannot be replaced despite digital advances in the travel industry. This is especially true for moments when something goes awry. Eighty-nine percent said they also want human assistance for cancelled flights or lost luggage, and 53% said they want it for getting an insider scoop on a destination.

Where tech triumphs. Travelers do note, however, that they prefer to use technology for certain aspects of their trip:

  • When it comes to booking flights and hotels, 76% of respondents said they turn to technology;
  • 73% noted they will use the internet for researching places to go for leisure travel;
  • 60% will use tech features to check in to flights or hotels; and,
  • nearly half (47%) of respondents and 65% of Millennials say the ability to share their travels experiences on social media adds to the enjoyment of the trip.

Source: Kantar Futures

Editor's Notes

The American Express Future of Travel survey was completed online by 1,007 US consumers who have traveled for leisure at least two times in the past five years. The survey was conducted by The Futures Company between May 26 and June 3, 2015. The results reported in this release have an overall margin of error of +/- 3.1 at the 95% level of confidence. While this report focuses on the US, results, data was also collected in the UK, Mexico and China.

Journalists, for inquiries about the survey, contact us. Follow us on Twitter for the latest news or sign up to receive our email alerts.

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