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Travelers prioritize trust and transparency over all other factors when choosing a travel supplier in addition to prompt communication

As consumers around the world make plans to travel again, a new study across 10 countries commissioned by Travelport finds that the industry must regain their trust by addressing issues related to transparency and communication about pricing, health and safety, and usage of their personal data.

As I read the study results and findings, one of the important things I realized is that our assumptions around consumers being trained to purchase in the ways that they are accustomed to through personalization, through an appropriate application of data to create relevance, through convenience and price transparency – those are things that carry over from whatever you are shopping for into the travel space, and I think our industry has been slow to adapt to that

Respondents indicate the top two factors for them to trust travel companies are;  “no hidden costs” (55%) in the shopping process and “fully flexible or refundable products” (45%). But while they select those as the most important factors, the majority of respondents also indicate they do not believe the industry is succeeding in meeting either of these expectations.

To put it into context, having no hidden costs is a full 16% more influential on trust than an airline’s long-term safety record. The request from consumers here is clear; the time has come to eliminate hidden fees and improve the overall transparency of pricing and communication.

Do clients trust the source of information they see on the internet?

The study finds consumers are also wary of the sources of travel information, with the most trusted sources being friends and family (67%) and the least trusted being influencers (30%) and celebrities (25%).

being really transparent about information is key with this segment of consumers. I think they understand the game, they understand how sponsored content works, they understand how influencers work – pay to play – and they are very distrusting of information that comes through that, particularly for the travel industry.

And while the majority (56%) of travelers say the industry has done well in implementing COVID health and safety measures, many expressed a lack of confidence in suppliers’ enforcement of these measures. Only 46% of respondents say they believe suppliers have taken steps to improve air filtration and only 50% trust them to enforce social distancing and managing to board and queuing.

This is an area where, despite the best efforts of the industry to take appropriate measures, a lack of communication has created a gap in trust

Data privacy is also a concern for respondents, with just 40% indicating they trust travel companies to use their personal information in accordance with appropriate use guidelines.

Travelers indicate they are comfortable with travel companies using data they have actively shared through one-to-one conversations (46%), past booking behavior (46%) and loyalty activity (44%). But they are less comfortable when travel suppliers and agencies source information indirectly, for example through social media, public records such as credit scores and past shopping, search and booking behavior with other companies.

The good news for travel companies is that engendering trust can directly relate to booking behavior, with nearly half (46%) of respondents saying they prioritize trust over all other factors when choosing a travel supplier. 

Part of this reset is sort of understanding what those trust gaps are and rebuilding relationships with consumers, knowing just how valuable their dollars are

As the world recovers economically, spending on travel is precious. People are watching their money, and we have to be really respectful of the fact that travelers are being very selective of how they spend their money. And so we need to rethink our communication with them as an industry

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