WeTravel has launched its inaugural annual travel trends report, Purchasing Habits: The Future of Travel Bookings and Payments, using data from thousands of tour operators and group travel businesses to understand how travel purchasing is shifting in post-pandemic consumerism.
The report is comprised of the business’s internal data from more than 3,000 clients — that, through the platform, marketed more than 100,000 global tours and multi-day trips, leading to more than half-a-million traveler bookings and payments — and an external survey of nearly 150 non-WeTravel tour operators and group travel organizers, from wellness retreat leaders to destination management companies.
Comparing this year’s responses on how consumers are booking and paying for travel to pre-pandemic booking data (2019), the report finds a drastic shift in travellers’ expectancy of personalization, customization, and automation pre- and post-trip, with control on where, when and how they book and pay for personalized travel experiences.
Ted Clements, WeTravel’s CEO, said that: “As an anomaly to industry-wide, global consumerism, traditional—in this context, pre-pandemic—travel was often a well-thought, not impulsive purchasing decision, predominantly purchased up-front with cash or Credit Card, as the industry followed consumer cues with a slow embrace to e-commerce solutions that dominated other industries selling common goods or services.”
Clements continued: “However, after a two-year industry standstill, commonplace travel purchasing has been disrupted: Now the data finds expectation of personalization, customization, and automation—which is well expected from consumer purchasing in differing industries—is dominating this year’s purchasing decisions.”
Whether it’s personalizing tour offerings to appeal to travellers, expecting shorter booking lead times when managing your on-the-ground staff and suppliers, or understanding how to customize payment options — like more installment payments, with a shorter booking lead time; offering Book Now, Pay Later payment solutions in the process to increase conversion — the data marks a shift in travel consumerism.
Some of the key data findings in the report include:
Women Dominate Travel Purchasing, The Average Age of Purchasers is Maturing
- Of the thousands of travel companies’ data included in the report, women account for nearly 70% of all tour and multi-day travel bookings, dominating the purchasing decisions in 2023; In 2019, women accounted for less than 60% of all travel bookings.
- In 2019, the average age of a traveller (who booked and paid for a tour) was 30; in 2023, the average age of the traveller is closer to 40, with the highest growth in travel bookings coming from the 40 to 55 age group, then 61+ age group.
Tour and Multi-Day Package Pricing is Increasing to Recover Lost Costs, While Reflecting Global Inflation
- More than 86% of survey respondents increased their trip pricing by 10% or more in 2023 compared to 2022; nearly a quarter of respondents increased their trip pricing by more than 25% in 2023 compared to 2022.
- Of the thousand+ wellness travel companies using WeTravel’s platform to market and sell their tours, the average trip cost increased 16% in 2022.
Travellers Are Seeking Custom Packages and Tours Over All-Inclusive Vacations
- Fifty-six per cent of respondents stated an increased traveler demand for tours instead of all-inclusive packages.
- More than 85% of respondents offer add-ons or customizations to their tours, up nearly 20% compared to 2019; the most-popular add-ons are special activities and tours (64%) and extra days (36%).
Travellers are Booking Closer to Departure in Fear of Cancellations, But This is Reducing Refund Processing for Travel Businesses
- 60% of tour operators said travellers are booking less than three months prior to departure, more than a 20% decrease in booking lead time compared to 2019, which saw more than 50% of bookings with a six-to-12-month lead time.
- Less than 20% of travellers are booking more than six months before departure, which is down more than 15% compared to 2019.
- 50% of respondents stated they expect their travellers to book closer to departure date to reduce cancellations and refunds.
Travellers are Paying for Tours and Packages with More Instalments, More Traveller Focus on Reducing High Up-Front Cost
- Of all respondents — including tour operators, group travel organizers like wellness and student trips, destination management companies and travel advisors — the most common payment option in 2019 was deposit and final payment 30 days prior to departure, in 2023 the most common payment option is deposit and four instalment payments prior to departure.
- In 2023, the highest-growth payment option (10% growth compared to 2019) is more than four instalment payments, with some respondents claiming their travellers are seeking up to eight instalment payments prior to departure
- In 2019, the most-commonly used payment method for booking tours was cash or credit card; in 2023, the most used payment method is debit card, followed by alternative payment methods like Apple Pay
Travellers Expect Local Payment Methods When Purchasing International Trips From Global Companies
- Increase demand for consumers to pay with local methods — Interac in Canada, iDel in Netherlands and Sofort in Germany — when purchasing global tours, from international businesses.
- 30% of respondents expect their travel payment methods to change to online, local payment options by the end of 2023.
Said Clements: “In the report, our aim is to continue to support the tour operators and group travel organizers that collect into the tourism industry. We’ll use the information to help these operators make guided business decisions to support their operations – and their travelers.”
And he added: “With access to global data on the expectation shift from travel consumers, we believe the industry will be better placed to shift their e-commerce solutions to better attract and retain their customers.”
Go to https://resources.wetravel.com/future-travel-bookings-payments-2023 for the full report.
Photos courtesy of WeTravel