Online, mobile and brand reputation is increasingly important for UK travellers, according to the latest eCustomerServiceIndex results from eDigitalResearch and IMRG.
The research shows that around three quarters of consumers (72%) prefer to research for holidays online, whilst a staggering 53% of consumers said that they avoided in-store travel agents altogether when researching and booking their holidays.
The results also show that brands need to be doing all they can to reassure customers as a number of travel brands have faced high profile industrial action and financial issues in recent years. 72% of the 2,000 surveyed said that brand reputation was either ‘very important’ or ‘quite important’ when considering their next holiday.
Mobiles are also playing a bigger role for holidaymakers. 68% of smartphone owners already use their device when travelling or planning to travel. Almost 1 in 3 (30%) of mobile owners have used their smartphone to browse for holidays or travel tickets, whilst another 11% of smartphone owners have completed a travel purchase from their device.
Derek Eccleston, Head of Research at eDigitalResearch, explains, “The travel industry has faced some turbulent times in recent years. A good multichannel strategy will be key for companies looking to grow in 2012, especially as our survey showed that 34% of consumers will use the internet more when booking and browsing for their next holiday, whilst 10% of mobile users said that they would use their smartphone more to do the same. Our research has consistently shown that consumers expect a seamless experience no matter how they shop and browse, and therefore travel brands need to make sure that they offer the same features and functionality across all their booking channels”.
The survey also found that, when browsing for hotels, travel tickets, or holidays, 70% of smartphone owners prefer to use a mobile optimised site rather than a mobile app. Yet, when searching for information, such as maps, timetables and weather forecasts, 70% prefer to use a mobile app, demonstrating the importance of developing a mobile solution to suit all consumers.
Andrew McClelland, Chief Operations & Policy Officer at IMRG, commented, “Online travel had a tough 2011, recording just 7% growth which is way below the average, but this is likely to be a result of the continuing economic downturn. These figures show that consumers want to use the online resources at their disposal in their own time and on their own terms, with 53% saying that they actually avoid in-store travel agencies altogether. With confidence in researching and purchasing travel through the mobile channel also growing, it seems clear that travel agencies’ physical stores need to look at innovative methods for bringing online technology in-store in order to increase footfall, ensuring that consumers feel they have options available to them and an increased sense of control over the process”.