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Can you hear voices? Shocks spring from travel survey

November 27, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The speed at which travellers are adopting voice search and mobile booking apps is revealed in a new comprehensive survey of 16,000 respondents in 25 countries – and when it comes to the most digitally savvy nationalities in the field of travel, stand by for some startling surprises.

Step forward India, whose citizens are the world’s most digitally advanced travellers for the second consecutive year, according to Travelport Global Digital Traveller research.

That’s not such a surprise – India is known for its tech expertise. But consider this: according to the the 2018 Global Digital Traveller League Table, Australia lags a long way behind Nigeria and Mexico in digital advancement in the field of travel – let alone lagging behind India. Australia is also a long way behind Indonesia, Turkey, Colombia and Saudi Arabia.

The table stands presumption on its head, with advanced countries like Japan, Germany, Britain and France all overtaken by developing economies.

More about that in a minute.

Key highlights from the Travelport global research include:

  • 47% of travellers use voice search when researching a trip. Chatbots like Google Assistant, Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon) and various airline AI bots such as Air New Zealand’s Oscar.
  • Over 33% of travellers book their trip on a mobile device.
  • 71% of business travellers believe digital boarding passes make traveling so much easier.
  • 16 different categories of apps are used on average when travelling.

The world’s travellers say mobile devices are as vital for travel as for other aspects of their life – and demand is increasing for new traveller technologies such as voice search, e-payment and digital room keys.

The survey reveals that while mobile remains crucial, travellers want a consolidated experience:

  • Almost half of those surveyed have booked and paid for an entire or part of a trip through their smartphone. China is the global leader, with close to 100% of survey participants booking and paying for travel through their mobile phone. (That figure, 100%, is not a typo.)
  • Nine out of 10 travellers now have apps to make their life easier when at their destination with maps, airlines, weather and social media topping the list of favourites.
  • On average, travellers use 10-12 apps throughout the searching, booking and traveling parts of their trip.
  • The top three most important features identified by leisure travellers in their travel apps are the ability to search & book flights (68%), real-time flight alerts throughout their journey (64%) and being able to see an entire trip itinerary in one place (67%).
  • Only around a fifth of travellers are currently using itinerary management tools.

New technologies are continuing to grow in prominence:

  • Over half of travellers use voice to search either during booking or whilst traveling – up 3% on last year globally.
  • In China and Turkey, over 70% of travellers are already using voice search. However, in Japan and some parts of Europe, the proportion of travellers using voice search is less than 40%.
  • Almost half of all respondents, both leisure (47%) and business (55%), think the ability to pay using Apple/Android pay (Touch ID) is important or very important.
  • Over half of business travellers asked said they wanted to be able to check in to their hotel via an app, rather than at a reception desk. 50% also wanted to use a digital room key to unlock their hotel room door from their phone.

Travellers want technology to continue to simplify and enhance the travel experience:

Most travellers asked would happily use biometric scanning to reduce the need for waiting in security lines, with little difference between those travelling for business (81%) and those travelling for leisure (75%). For Nigerian travellers, with one of the youngest populations in this year’s survey, 90% said they were happy to share personal data to speed through customs and immigration.

Over two-thirds of travellers think digital boarding passes make travel so much easier

Travelport president and chief executive, Gordon Wilson, commented: “We can all see the way technology is changing almost every aspect of our lives. The travel industry has always been about new experiences and adopted new technologies early. This is as true today, with such high demand for voice search and biometric screening, as it was when I joined this industry almost thirty years ago.

“At Travelport, we’ll always provide choice for customers and travellers, drive performance and use the intelligence in our platform to personalise and tailor your travel experience. But we’re also busy innovating, inspiring and experimenting with ways to use new technologies to make buying and managing travel continually better. It’s great to see confirmation that today’s travellers are already as excited about future technologies as we are about making them.”

Now, the 2018 Global Digital Traveller League Table 

The report also includes the 2018 Digital Traveller League Table, with India crowned champions for the second year in a row as the country with the most digitally advanced travellers.

The standings are based on a combination of the main indicators of using technology to enhance the travel experience. For example, India’s top position is maintained because 69% of that country’s travellers use voice search, over 60% want digital room keys and 88% say they are influenced to travel by friends on social media.


The 2018 Global Digital Traveller League Table 

Country 2018 Rank
(2017 ranking)
India 1 (1)
Indonesia 2 (3)
Brazil 3 (4)
China 4 (2)
Nigeria* 5
UAE 6 (8)
Turkey* 7
Saudi Arabia 8 (5)
Colombia 9 (9)
Mexico 9 (6)
South Africa 10 (7)
Singapore* 11
Argentina* 12
South Korea* 13
Hong Kong* 14
USA 15 (11)
Russia 16 (14)
Italy 17 (10)
Spain 18 (12)
France 19 (13)
Australia 20 (16)
Canada 21 (15)
UK 22 (17)
Japan 23 (18)
Germany 24 (19)

An asterisk* indicates the country concerned was surveyed for the first time this year.

Travelport’s Global Digital Traveller Research was developed by the company’s market intelligence team and carried out online through Toluna Research in August 2018. The research covered 25 countries and surveyed people who had taken at least one round trip flight last year. In total, there were over 16,000 respondents. The report is available to download from the Travelport site here.

Written by Peter Needham

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