Travelers who were left stranded—of all places—in their own homes during the pandemic are now making up for lost time. In the summer of 2023, 85% of adults plan to take a trip, up 5% from 2022’s post-pandemic surge.
To keep a pulse on the still-evolving travel and hospitality industry, FullStory conducted a survey of 1,500 US consumers to understand their behaviors and preferences—particularly as they relate to digital experiences—going into this year’s vacation season. The survey illuminated three important trends businesses should know to ensure their happy customers don’t turn into weary travelers.
Read on for a look at the trends travel-oriented businesses need to know to stay off of travelers’ no-fly lists.
Survey data reveals important truths about US travel industry
1. Americans are not spontaneous travelers
As much as some may daydream about throwing a dart at a map and hopping on a last-minute flight, the reality is that most Americans plan their travel well in advance. The survey showed that nearly eight in 10 (78%) of US travelers always or frequently book some portion of their trips online. Moreover, 44% of respondents book the entirety of their travel plans in advance online, including flights, lodgings, and activities at their destination.
If customers are researching and booking their entire travel agenda before you ever see them in person, your digital experience is the way to influence their booking decision, give them a great experience from the start, and ultimately keep them coming back.
Among high earners making $150,000 or more, these numbers are even higher. Eighty-three percent of this group always or frequently researches and books online, and nearly half (49%) reserve every part of their trip online ahead of time.
“Digital properties are the most prevalent way customers make travel decisions and transactions, so travel brands can’t afford any digital missteps. With so many trips almost entirely planned online in advance, brands need to start channeling empathy for the digital consumer and proactively find and fix digital issues before they impact customers.” - Darren Kennedy, SVP of Customer Experience, FullStory
2. Travelers have low tolerance for turbulent digital experiences
This is your captain speaking: Friction in your digital experience is likely causing people to abandon your site.
In the survey, over half (55%) of respondents say they are likely to leave and book with another provider if they become frustrated with a travel site or app. DX issues can earn your brand a one-way ticket to a customer’s bad side—and pose a serious revenue risk.
JetBlue reduced frustrating payment errors by 20% with FullStory's Digital Experience Intelligence platform. Check out their story.
According to the survey, many travel brands have plenty of legroom when it comes to opportunities for improving their digital experiences. Over one in five (21%) of respondents say they always or frequently feel frustrated when booking or researching travel online.
While 75% of respondents say that digital experiences can enhance the overall travel experience, some sectors are pulling ahead of others. The survey showed that hotels rank highest for digital experience satisfaction, while rental car companies rank the lowest.
3. Function outweighs frills
If you’re wondering what improvements to make on your site or app, the data shows you should prioritize finding and fixing frustrating issues over adding fancy new features.
In the survey, most Americans say they would prefer to make practical improvements over flashy additions. Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents would like to see enhancements to interfaces and navigation improvements, and 17% are interested in improved stability and reliability.
These functionality improvements are far more desired than additions like AI chatbots (preferred by 7% of respondents) and augmented reality experiences (6%).
In fact, another recent survey revealed that four in five US consumers (81%) say their top priority when transacting online is having the ability to quickly accomplish what they came to do. Furthermore, 40% of American say they “don’t care” where they shop, “as long as it works.”
“Our research continues to show that customers are loyal to experiences, not brands, and they’re searching for brands to do the basics really well—even more than ones that offer fancy new features.” — Darren Kennedy, SVP of Customer Experience, FullStory
Additionally, 57% of US travelers would be willing to pay a premium for the guarantee of a flawless digital experience, regardless of income. Exactly how much more would people pay for the promise of clear skies during the booking process?
8% would pay 10% more
23% would pay 5% more
27% would pay 3% more
FullStory helps you provide a first-class digital experience for your customers. Get a demo to learn more.