To help the travel marketer better understand the state of the upscale British traveler, there is The Kuoni Worldwide Trends Report 2018 and, although the consultation with a Kuoni agent, usually in a comfortable environment inside an upscale department store, the Trends Report notes that even its customers have become more digitally dependent for purposes of holiday planning. This and other points of interest from the Trends Report are summarized below:
- In 2017, internet browsing on a mobile device finally became more popular than using a desktop computer. This important shift is especially noticeable with Kuoni as 60 per cent of visitors to the website are now on their phone or tablet. Last year, mobile sessions were up 14 per cent and Kuoni saw a slight decrease in desktop visitors. With more customers interacting in this way, Kuoni have improved the online experience for mobile users.
- Kuoni’s research shows that, while people love browsing the web for ideas and inspiration, there is a swing back to “real expertise” when it comes to booking. Conversations are still central for premium travel. Although the vast majority of people may be going online for research, when it comes to more complex, multi-center travel real expertise and advice is still central to converting browsing into booking. The company’s research shows that 79 per cent of people now admit they feel overwhelmed by the volume of search results when they start their holiday planning.
- Are we drowning in data? Survey research has found that 49 percent of travelers strongly agree that travel planning has become more of a headache than an enjoyable part of the holiday. As well:
—52 percent say they are unsure which online sites, reviews and data to trust when booking a holiday
(Source: Independent research by Censuswide, carried out in January 2018.
- Travel by Appointment: Planning and booking a holiday is one of the most exciting and important decisions of the year and, in the case of honeymoons, weddings or other special trips, it’s one of the most important decisions not just of the year, but sometimes of people’s lives. With tea, coffee or champagne, the appointment service from Kuoni is on the rise. (At the time the Trends Survey was being prepared, appointments for January 2018 were running 31 per cent ahead of the same week the previous year.) Technology behind the scenes has been developed so the Kuoni team can book appointments with Personal Travel Experts most relevant to the destinations or types of holidays the customer is interested in. Some numbers:
—There was a 38 percent increase in appointments last year, compared to 2016.
—The average length of a travel consultation was 2 hours
—59 percent come in for a consultation “with a blank sheet”—they don’t have a destination in mind and are happy to be inspired.
- Webchats Now Drive Bookings. The website is effectively the biggest shop window and Kuoni is seeing more customers make initial inquiries through webchat. It’s been four years since webchat was first introduced at Kuoni and, as the travel experts get better trained and more used to handling it—and shoppers more used to the format—it’s a great first point of contact. While people don’t book on the basis of webchat alone, it’s a great ice-breaker, says Kuoni, and provides a friendly starting point for many customers to iron out a few initial queries. Increasingly online chats go on to more detailed conversations about the trip face-to-face at an appointment or on the phone. A note: Kuoni experience 33,288 chats in 2017 vs. 27,196 chats in 2016
- Specialist Phone Calls are up, but Generic Phone Calls are down: There’s been a shift in how people plan and book holidays over the phone. The Kuoni website gives people a choice of how they get in touch by phone, either a general number or contact details of Personal Travel Experts directly who have specialist knowledge or are local to customers’ homes. ONLINE INSPIR ATION In 2017, internet browsing on a mobile device finally became more popular than using a desktop computer. This important shift is especially noticeable with Kuoni as 60 per cent of visitors to the website are now on their phone or tablet. Last year, mobile sessions were up 14 per cent and Kuoni saw a slight decrease in desktop visitors. With more customers interacting in this way, Kuoni have improved the online experience for mobile users.
- Finally, the Top 25 Destinations for Kuoni Customers: Kuoni sells more than 90 destinations worldwide; the Top 25 list is based on those destinations which have seen the highest booking numbers for 2018 holidays at the time the Trends report went to press. (Remember that, in almost all surveys of holidaymakers in the UK, the USA ranks as the number one overseas destination.)