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Switchfly Trend Report: Consumer Travel Predictions for 2020

October 3, 2014 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

Switchfly, Inc., the technology company powering travel search/booking and loyalty point redemption solutions for the world’s most celebrated brands, today announced the results of its quarterly trend report that examined consumer expectations of how travel experiences and booking processes will change by the year 2020.

The report includes research developed by Switchfly and fielded by Harris to 2,017 US adults. Among the national trends discovered, 72% of Americans expect travel to be personalized in the year 2020, with consumers indicating they expect tailored offerings such as:

  • Computers will book on default your favorite place to sit in planes, and your car and hotel preferences – 39%
  • Travelers will use facial recognition software during check in – 37%
  • Making travel plans will require only one-click of your smart device (e.g., smartphone, smart watch, smart glasses) – 37%
  • Computers will know who you want to travel with – 20%

Expectations for Travel Booking Technology

The study discovered that most (80%) Americans plan to book travel in the year 2020, while more than half (63%) intend to do so on a computer and 1 in 5 (22%) will use a smartphone. 1 in 10 (14%) Americans plan on booking travel in 2020 using technology that has not been invented yet. An additional 1 in 10 (14%) plan to book trips through a travel agent.

When it comes to age, the expectation of how people think they will book travel in 2020 varies across generations. Millennials (ages 18-34 years), for example, are the most likely to rely on a smartphone to book travel in the future. Conversely, Generation X (ages 35-44 years) will turn to a computer and Baby Boomers (ages 65+ years) intend to use a travel agent in 2020. Wearable technology like smart watches and smart glasses fall within a budding category that both Millennials and Generation X are at equal pace to expect using in the next five years to book travel.

Expected Travel Booking Method Age Group Most Likely Generation Represented % Who Said This

in 2020

to Use Method

On a computer

35-44 Generation X 70%
Using a smartphone 18-34 Millennials 36%
With a travel agent 65+ Baby Boomers 18%
Using a technology not yet invented 35-44 Generation X 17%
Using a smart watch 18-44 Millennials and Generation X 6%
Using smart glasses 18-44 Millennials and Generation X 4%

“Technology is the through line in the evolution of travel. Our trend report demonstrates that consumers recognize that as fact, with younger generations like Millennials and Generation X—who are more immersed in tech-oriented lifestyles than their elders—naturally taking the lead in that outlook,” said Daniel Farrar, CEO, Switchfly. “Right now mobile is primarily being used for research and inspiration, but the ability to plan a trip while on the go is streamlining the entire travel experience. With the growth in mobile into booking over the next five years, brands will have a huge opportunity for customer re-engagement throughout the travel lifecycle.”

Outlook Good for Domestic & International Travel

When it comes to the ways that consumers think their travel experience will have improved by 2020, half (51%) of Americans think they will visit more domestic destinations while nearly 4 in 10 (38%) say they will visit international destinations. For global travelers, this is a huge leap when you consider that in the month of May 2014 the US Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (OTTI) reports 5.9 million Americans traveled internationally—equating to roughly only 2% of the nation’s current population of 318 million.

The nation is not only thinking about traveling between countries, Switchfly discovered. A small but ambitious portion of the US (5%) admits to anticipating having traveled into space around low Earth Orbit by 2020. Another 3% of Americans expect to have visited either the international space station or Mars. Examining age groups and gender among this particular audience reveals Millennial men specifically lead more than any other generation in expecting to experience space travel within the next five years.

Direct Communication to Stand Test of Time

Two-thirds (66%) of Americans today also expect to call hotels or airlines directly in the year 2020, and 4 in 10 (41%) expect to talk to a real person when they do so. Conversely, 18% say they expect to talk to a robot that will be more helpful than a person. An additional 16% believe when they call a hotel or airline direct they will encounter personalized offerings such as talking to someone who sounds like your best friend, family member or someone you find attractive.


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Switchfly from September 2-4, 2014 among 2,017 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact

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