High-Touch, High-Tech Travel in Demand by Consumers

Unlike strictly digital services, travel agents can provide insider knowledge and genuine customer service By: Valerie Chen
Travelers want both tech and personalized service. // © 2015 iStock
Travelers want both tech and personalized service. // © 2015 iStock

The Details

American Express Travel

According to a recent American Express Travel report, travelers want both technology and human service, in addition to trips tailored to their specific preferences. Those surveyed also reported prioritizing life experiences over wealth and careers and, as a result, consider leisure travel to be a worthwhile investment.

Why It Matters:
Out of the approximately 1,000 respondents, 85 percent prefer a customized itinerary to a prepackaged one, and 90 percent appreciate the effort required to create a bespoke itinerary. But with ample resources available only a click away, astute travelers have increasingly high expectations when deciding to hire a travel agent.

Agents can surpass these demands by combining insider tips and industry access with a client’s interests, passions and needs to create a unique, memorable trip. In addition, agents should provide genuine person-to-person assistance before, during and after the trip — a human element that automated apps and OTAs tend to lack.

Fast Facts:
- More than eight in 10 respondents would rather have authentic and sincere customer service interactions than automated and streamlined customer service.

- When asked if they would increase travel if they received more personalized service during trips, 45 percent of respondents said they either strongly agree or agree, including millennials (60 percent), Gen Xers (46 percent), baby boomers (37 percent) and matures (37 percent).

- 93 percent of respondents either strongly agree or agree that the value of personal service cannot be replaced, regardless of digital advances in the travel industry.

- 82 percent of respondents are more interested in making memories than money, and 91 percent of respondents are prioritizing life experiences over their profession.

- 85 percent of respondents consider travel to be worth the investment of money, and 65 percent of respondents consider leisure travel to be a priority.

- When considering their travel today, 85 percent of respondents intend to travel the same amount, if not more, in 2020.

- 60 percent of respondents either strongly disagree or disagree that the risk and uncertainty in the world today makes them want to travel less.

- When ranking the biggest motivations to travel among respondents, relaxing and unwinding came in first (79 percent), followed by spending quality time with family/friends (75 percent), escaping the stress of everyday life (73 percent), having new experiences (72 percent), experiencing nature/beautiful scenery (66 percent) and for excitement and adventure (55 percent).

What They Are Saying:
“Increasingly, travelers want to see the world on their terms with tailored, personalized and differentiated experiences that reflect their passions and needs,” said Claire Bennett, executive vice president of American Express Travel. “The boundaries between technology and personal service are being blurred, allowing more intimate connections for travelers with the world around them. This presents travelers and our industry with innumerable opportunities for partnerships to make more memorable journeys possible.”