Travelport study says 46 percent of people prioritize trust over everything else when selecting a travel provider; this is one of the key findings from a major survey conducted with the a leading global authority on trust, Edelman Data & Intelligence, to take the pulse on consumer trust in travel. The answer to the key question is, Travelport tells us, by embracing and building on modern retailing standards.
To get to the above answer, the Travelport/Edelman study takes the reader through a series of differences in attitudes toward different economic sectors, as well as different components of the travel and tourism industry. The survey base included 10,000 people across 10 countries, asking them questions on different elements of trust. INBOUND uses the report’s own language as we take you through the key points of the survey.
Trust Hinges on Expectation: Major tech companies like Amazon, Alibaba, Netflix, and Spotify changed consumer expectations forever. Truly modern retailers, these companies are there for customers all the time, any time, on every channel, with a little UX magic thrown in just for fun. When you shop them, you use their tools, you access advice from other customers, you compare costs and brands with ease. If travel retailing falls short of these standards, people notice. So, we need to get in step.
Trust Sells: We asked respondents whether they felt they could trust travel companies to do the right thing. Travel is inherently a leap of faith. Because when we travel, we’re taking a journey into the unknown. Trust underpins the entire experience, and that starts with a booking. And for businesses, being trusted enables success.
We’ve Got Work to Do: As an industry we’re not quite bottom of the class (that accolade goes to Financial Services, while Healthcare scores high in the year of the vaccine). But Edelman’s research shows we’re still scoring low:
Trust in Travel Agencies: Agencies could do better: people have relatively low levels of trust in travel agencies, depending on type.
—Trust In Airlines: Trust varies by carrier type
—Trust Major International and regional airlines: ˃50 percent
—Trust low-cost carriers: 40 percent
—Hotels are the most trusted: 57 percent
Factors Influencing Trust
1. Price Transparency: People hate ‘hidden’ costs. They expect transparency and personalization, with a clear fee structure and a product tailored to their needs. Price transparency is more important to travelers than anything. That’s not an exaggeration—along with fully flexible or refundable products, people ranked it 16 percent more influential on trust than an airline’s long-term safety record.
2. Performance During COVID-19: Travelers are raring to get back on the move, and they give the industry reasonably high marks for reacting to COVID-19. They may forgive past negative experiences if we prove trustworthy now.
Some sectors have fared better than others. Major international hotels were some of the first businesses in the sector to reopen, regaining consumer trust through clear, consistent safety measures and transparent cancellation policies. Beyond COVID-19, hotels build trust by prioritizing the traveler experience in ways airlines often do not. A simple example is the mindset of welcoming ‘guests’ not “passengers.”
Travelers are also still wary about some measures like air filtration, social distancing, and managed boarding being fully implemented, and need more reassurance around refund/exchange flexibility.
3. Privacy: People value their privacy — that’s not new. Travelers have higher trust in companies using information shared voluntarily with them rather than from elsewhere. The most trusted sources include one-to-one conversations, while the lowest form is through tracking their social media activity.
4. Negative Experiences: Other people’s opinions matter to travelers. Reviews have been democratized by platforms like TripAdvisor, Instagram, and Facebook, and consumers have the power and confidence to use them to vent or resolve a grievance. When travelers say trust is the most important factor when buying, negative word of mouth is costly.
5. Trusted Sources for Trip Planning—Nobody Trusts Shills: People generally don’t trust celebs’ or influencers’ word for planning a trip. That doesn’t mean famous travel aficionados and legit expert bloggers don’t know their stuff. The point is, consumers know the difference between paid partnerships and genuine recommendations that are unmotivated by financial or personal gain. Like we said, people value transparency, which may be why celebs and influencers score lowest on trust, at 25-30 percent.
It’s the same story when it comes to types of information. People value the opinions or insights of other travelers more than travel companies or paid third parties.
Gen Z Are Wary of … Everyone. Misinformation is a huge part of the zeitgeist for Gen Z, and it’s made them suspicious consumers. Gen Z just about trust their friends and family but are skeptical of those with agendas misaligned with theirs.
Compared to Millennials at 48 percent (the second youngest consumer demographic), that’s on decline. This indicates a worrying trend on the horizon among the biggest economic driving force.
Generation Z don’t trust travel companies. Only 38 percent do, the lowest score of all age groups.
Ways To Rebuild Trust
1. Let’s be clear. Price transparency is essential to building trust. During the pandemic, it was obvious how important clear cancellation/refund policies are. This now extends to eliminating hidden fees, so expectations are set from booking. Communication is key, whether you’re a travel agency or supplier.
2. Now it’s personal. Travelers are overwhelmed by too much choice. Agencies can build trust by taking a curatorial approach, using the right content and tools to reduce the list of options to something manageable and personal. The caveat is getting the balance right between using your own and external data to inform that personalization.
3. Authenticity, always. Consumers are more and more mistrustful of anything claiming to be genuine endorsements but smell like paid sponsorships (that’s why #ad is a thing). Travel businesses should avoid using influencers to rebuild trust. Eschew what looks like schilling, and your customers will have confidence that you’re the real deal.
4. Get the youth vote. Prioritize Gen Z as if the next 20 years depends on it (it does). These are the consumers most likely to bail on their jobs to travel the world, and are now a major (and growing) economic force. You need to understand them and meet their needs — even ones that feel new and alien.
5. Experience is paramount. Experience makes or breaks trust. Travel businesses need to keep delivering on quality, but close the gap between your interest and consumers’. When travelers are happy, everybody wins. We need to enable customer reviews and ratings, so they can share positive experiences far and wide.
In sum—How can we improve customer trust in travel? The answer to the three trillion-dollar question is: by embracing and building on modern retailing standards.
Read the complete report here: https://www.travelport.com/trust
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