• Transform magazine
  • May 25, 2019

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Travel companies rarely inspire trust or loyalty, survey shows

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The holiday season can be the most popular, expensive and stressful time to travel. In that setting of general mania and panic, travellers have the choice between opting for the most budget-friendly booking options and their most trusted, which might not always be the same brands. In a survey of over 1,100 British adults, travellers say brand loyalty is not a factor when booking holidays.

Brand technology agency Great State carried out the research to determine where loyalties lie. It found that 52% of people do not consistently book with the same travel providers. That becomes exacerbated to almost 75% when looking specifically at the over 55 age bracket. In that same age group, 15% say they wouldn’t trust any travel provider to offer a complete experience, compared to a 9% average across the whole population. Geographical differences also lead to differing trust levels.

But it’s not all bad news for travel companies. Brands that offer end-to-end experiences – the likes of Thomas Cook, Expedia and Trivago – see more loyalty than those that only cater for one part of the experience. And for four brands, it may have been a good Christmas. Thomas Cook, TUI, Expedia and Booking.com were all named both the most trusted and most loyalty-inspiring brands.

Matt Boffey, co-founder and director of consulting at Great State says, “It’s clear from our research that holidaymakers are more demanding than ever. And given how many things still go wrong when people are travelling – like delays, lost baggage and missed connections – that means it’s all too easy to disappoint consumers and lose them to an ever-expanding set of rivals. In this context, brands’ first priority must be to develop a great end-to-end customer experience, where common pain points are anticipated, and potential disappointment is transformed into delight. It’s the only path to winning a greater share of consumer attention, data and spend.”

The other key finding from the research was the level and integration of digital communications and transparency into the process. Brands that offer in-depth digital planning and research tools are more favoured; only 13% of people say they don’t expect a digital offer. Additionally, 53% of respondents say live information is the digital feature they expect most from their travel brands.

It’s a tough world out there for travel brands, but those companies that can inspire trust will also inspire loyalty.