US travellers value choice over price

A survey of more than 1,000 leisure travelers in the United States revealed that what Americans really want is value for their money. Given the choice, American travelers would be willing to pay extra for amenities that would make their flight more comfortable or convenient.

This may equate to choosing a 10 a.m. departure over a 6 a.m. flight or actually having overhead storage above their assigned seat rather than 20 rows back.

According to the exclusive survey from Amadeus, a leading travel technology provider, and research firm Leflein Associates, when it comes to booking travel online at an airline’s Website, nine out of 10 travelers find value in the ability to find flight and fare information quickly.

87 percent of respondents also expect to see a wide selection of dates, schedules and fares.

Ultimately, travelers want value, and that equates to options and flexibility, not necessarily the cheapest ticket. When it comes to finding flights and fares, consumers want choice, control and convenience.

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“Amadeus found that travelers are not just looking for a low fare - they want choices, and are even willing to pay for amenities and options that will enhance their flying experience,” said Chris Barnes, vice president of e-commerce sales for Amadeus North America.

“Consumers are not always looking for the lowest price; they are looking for the best price that fits in line with their travel needs.”

Respondents also said that given the choice, they would be willing to pay for optional amenities when booking a ticket online:

—52 percent would be willing to pay more for the ability to use points to upgrade ticket class, on discounted fares that normally do not allow upgrades

—49 percent would be willing to pay more for the ability to get more frequent flyer miles than ticket class allows

—40 percent would be willing to pay more for the use of an airline’s exclusive club

—40 percent would be willing to pay more for the choice of in-flight entertainment (movies, sitcoms, video games, etc.)

—31 percent would be willing to pay more for guaranteed overhead storage above their seat

—30 percent would be willing to pay more for meal/snacks ordered from a menu

—25 percent would be willing to pay more for priority baggage handling

Good News for Airlines

The survey found that two-thirds of leisure travelers, and nearly half of business travelers, book personal travel through an airline’s branded Web site, rather than other online travel sites.

Of the survey respondents who use travel Web sites, 83 percent said they would switch to an airline Web site if it offered flexible fares and add-on options, which is encouraging news for the airline industry.

“Improved consumer choice and improved airline profits represent a win/win situation,” said Barnes. “Airlines that provide consumers flexibility - choice, control and convenience - can more effectively compete for consumers’ business. Choice instantly increases consumer confidence, because when you know what you’re getting, you are more likely to be loyal.”

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted November 3-10, 2005 among a nationally representative sample of 1,001 adult travelers 18+ (those who have traveled by air for personal reasons at least once in the past 12 months and booked their ticket online), comprising 485 men and 516 women.

Note that not all US households have an Internet connection. The survey was developed for Amadeus North America by Leflein Associates, Inc. The margin of error for the sample overall is +/-3.0%. The margin of error for subgroups is larger.
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