Technology Influences Traveler Expectations, Especially Millennials

Technology is influencing consumer travel, and there is an opportunity for travel brands to better meet these new expectations. 

That’s according to Blitz, a Los Angeles-based creative agency, whose client list includes Aruba, Collette Travel, Icelandair, Hilton, Disney Parks and Resorts, Holland America, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruises.

Blitz and sister agency Amp surveyed U.S. travelers between the ages of 18 and 55 who had taken a leisure trip within the past year. The survey and report, Targeting Moments of Need in the New Travel Landscape, reveal the changing attitudes of travelers beginning with what inspires them to travel, how they plan and book trips, their experiences at the destinations and their customer-service needs.  



For example, 84% of Millennials are likely to plan trips based on someone else’s vacation updates and photos in social media. Marketers can create greater brand affinity and distinction by realizing how to leverage social channels differently from other marketing channels, according to the report. 

“Millennials are looking for a truly original experience when they travel, and love to find that one thing that no one has found,” Giesa DiBianca, senior strategist at Blitz, tells Marketing Daily. “Yet, they are also inspired by others and have FOMO [fear of missing out], so in the end they are torn between exploring for something totally new (without a review) vs. something that came with a strong recommendation and a picturesque social media post.”

One of things DiBianca finds most interesting about Millennials is how much they value travel. 

“Millennials place such a premium on that experience, over other experiences and far beyond purchasing possessions,” DiBianca says. “Even with very little money, Millennials will find ways to incorporate travel in their life and to enjoy an authentic experience — it doesn't need to be luxurious.”

For all demographic groups, travel brands must simplify the whole process, according to the report. Seventy-two percent of respondents said they feel overwhelmed when planning a trip. Much of their time is devoted to finding the best deals. Booking engines have an opportunity to provide consumers with time-saving experiences and better management of multiple-trip components. Niche providers are using simple, conversational interfaces. 

Brands must balance tech with a human touch. Even in a connected world, travelers want to connect in person when they need help. Airlines, hotels and tourist attractions shouldn’t be too quick to replace service personnel with digital kiosks. Instead, they must carefully select the right moments for digital interactions. For example, 73% of travelers said they would be willing or very willing to receive text messages about unplanned excursions, dinners and other experiences while on vacation.

“I see a lot of brands in the travel space right now testing and trying new things, which is great, but there are still a lot of untapped opportunities,” DiBianca says. “Virgin America's latest app is a great update — it has an excellent user experience from booking a flight to managing the day of the flight — by reducing the number of steps it takes to do something and offering a layer of personalization.”

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