Travelport recently released the results of a research survey that explored how technology is shaping, enhancing and easing travel experiences. Twenty-five countries from across the globe were surveyed, with 16 200 travel participants across both leisure and business sectors.

The top trends that emerged were:

  • Mobile is crucial for travel
  • New technologies, such as voice search, are growing
  • Travellers want technology to simplify their travel experience

Mobile is king

The report revealed that travellers want a consolidated experience. Leisure travellers say the three most important features in their travel apps are:

  • The ability to search and book flights (68%)
  • Being able to see an entire trip itinerary in one place (67%)
  • Real-time flight alerts throughout their journey (64%)

Business travellers also want to be able to make hotel and car bookings (68%).

It is interesting to note that almost 100% of Chinese survey participants booked and paid for their travel through mobile phone. China also has the most consolidated app experience available, with WeChat being a consolidation of WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Venmo, Skype and Slack. This translates into increased mobile engagement.

Across the global base, travellers used an average of 10 to 12 apps throughout the travel process: from searching and booking, to the actual travelling. Over half of business travellers said they would prefer a single app to manage all parts of their trip itinerary. Only around one-fifth currently use itinerary management tools.

“Most of us are reliant on our mobile phones and it’s no surprise to see 80% of the travellers in our survey say they would be lost without their smartphone when travelling. There is clearly an opportunity to respond to travellers’ demands by building apps that do more than manage one part of a trip or which only have one function,” said Fiona Shanley, Travelport’s Chief Customer and Marketing Officer (CCMO).

Voice functionality

Voice search is growing in popularity, with over half of the travellers surveyed using their voice to search for some part of their trip. Globally, this is up 3% from the previous year.

While a large portion of Chinese and Turkish participants already use voice search (70%), less than 40% of Japanese and various European travellers are using voice search. This reflects a decrease from last year.

Payments and Touch ID

The report shows that nearly 2.1 billion consumers worldwide will use a mobile wallet to send money or make a payment in 2019, an increase of 30% from the previous year. The payment solutions market is being led by China and India.

Some 47% of leisure and 55% of business travellers indicated that the ability to make payments using Apple/Android pay (Touch ID) was important or very important.

“The world around us is changing fast, and new technologies are having an impact on every part of our lives. With voice search already being used in half of trip bookings, my team is excited about what’s coming next. We think VR and AR will start to play a bigger role, as Generation Z uses headsets they already own to find their next holiday destination. We want to ensure our travel content meets them there, rather than asking them to leave the platform they’re already engaging in to plan a trip,” says Mike Croucher, Chief Architect of Travelport.

Simplification is key

Biometric scanning was noted by the majority of participants (81% business, and 75% leisure) as a welcome streamlining technology to reduce the need for waiting in security lines.

And over half of business travellers want to check into a hotel from their phone, with 50% wanting to use a digital room key.

Top tech-savvy countries

The 25 surveyed countries were ranked by Travelport according to their digital savviness, with India coming top.

Noted were the following trends:

  • 69% used voice search while researching a trip
  • 88% are influenced to travel by their friends on social media
  • On average, 13 apps were used during a trip, with over 80% saying digital boarding passes and e-tickets made travelling easier
  • Over 60% want to use digital room keys and check into a hotel via an app, and 71% will avoid a hotel that charges for WiFi
  • Over 85% said they still booked their travel online via a computer rather than tablet (28%) or mobile (48%)

Here are the digital-savvy rankings of all the participants:

  1. India
  2. Indonesia
  3. Brazil
  4. China
  5. Nigeria
  6. UAE
  7. Turkey
  8. Saudi Arabia
  9. Colombia
  10. Mexico
  11. South Africa
  12. Singapore
  13. Argentina
  14. South Korea
  15. Hong Kong
  16. USA
  17. Russia
  18. Italy
  19. Spain
  20. France
  21. Australia
  22. Canada
  23. UK
  24. Japan
  25. Germany

Over the next few weeks we will be deconstructing the digital landscape across our top-five source markets – exploring what technologies are being adopted and utilised in travel, and how destination marketers and tourism players can capitalise on the dynamic digital needs of travellers.