Travel Agent Appreciation
Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Dec 10, 2018
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Consumers finding themselves in a digital catch-22


Pictured above: Paul Davies, research author of Mintel’s new survey on worldwide consumer trends, presenting the findings at this year’s WTM 2018 in London.

Vacationers are increasingly finding themselves in a digital catch-22 situation. They expect to be connected wherever they go, yet they also have a desire to switch off from tech.

That was just one of the conclusions drawn from a new Mintel research survey into worldwide consumer trends unveiled at the recent World Travel Market in London.

According to research author Paul Davies, travel brands have “an enormous opportunity to capitalize on a growing consumer backlash against digital noise by offering tailored advice and personalized experience.”

He explained, “On the one hand, they want and expect to connect to brands and services wherever they go, but on the other hand, they want to escape technology in an effort to switch off and slow down.”

The director of travel, leisure and foodservice at the global research company noted, “The travel industry continues to do a great job providing consumers with the digital tools they require in order to discover places and communicate with brands, but a focus on holidays that provide an “analog experience’ will appeal to those who want to escape technology.”

In his ‘Opportunities for the Travel Industry’ presentation based on the global survey results, Davies told delegates that vacation travel is expected to be one of the best performing sectors in terms of expenditure growth over the next few years – up 16% from 2017 to 2022, compared with a forecast increase in tech spend of only 3%.

He told industry buyers and sellers, “In addition to prioritizing experiences over material possessions, consumers increasingly want their experiences to be more personalized. Mintel’s research shows that ‘one-size-fits-all’ is dead, and consumers now see personalization as a right not a privilege.”

The London-based exec said the research also revealed that 31% of consumers trust the quality of a vacation more from a travel agent compared to online, rising to 38% among millennials.

He explained, “While millennials are typically more tech-savvy than older generations, they are often less confident about making big financial commitments based on information found online.”

“When it comes to booking a holiday, many are visiting selected destinations or using brands for the first time, so this makes them more likely to seek out expert face-to-face advice from travel agents they feel they can trust,” he added.

And the Davies report had good news for tour operators too, with a prediction that the sector will remain in growth mode.

However, he did issue a caveat, explaining, “The sector needs to adapt to embrace greater demand for customization in order to sustain growth. Millennials are the group most likely to be willing to pay extra for vacations that are tailor-made to their preferences, highlighting a clear opportunity for providers to offer more flexible packages.”

Following the presentation, WTM spokesman Paul Nelson stated, “This Mintel research reveals that, far from being killed off, travel agents can not only survive in the digital age, but thrive by offering trustworthy advice, while tour providers which can offer a more personalized vacation experience will also do well.”