As I mentioned in our first blog post, consumer data will play a key role in our travel industry research at Atmosphere.
I’m pleased to share a few survey highlights with you here. We expect to publish the first of several reports using the data from this survey in the next few weeks.
First, some background on the survey, just so you know it’s legit. Atmosphere contracted with Survey Sampling International (SSI), a leader in consumer research panels, to field the online survey, using a random selection of respondents from SSI’s US panel. The survey was fielded in October 2011. It asked about respondents’ travel behavior, attitudes, brands used (we have data for 10 airlines, 27 hotels, and seven offline and online travel agencies), the economy, and more. A total of 5,058 people responded to the survey.
And now for those highlights:
- Pricing pressure will remain strong. Travelers are both emotionally and financially exhausted. Most travelers expect to spend about the same amount in 2012 as they did this year, but more travelers expect to spend less (25%) than spend more (21%). Travel sellers will once again have to walk the leisure travel pricing tightrope. Hike prices too much, and your sales may fall off. Those who discount too much may make it to the other side, but it will be a very wobbly process — and profitability will not be guaranteed.
- Mobile continues to sizzle. Almost half (49%) of US online leisure travelers own a smartphone, and 19% have a tablet computer. Without a doubt, the era of mobile travel has arrived. Smartphone users show strong interest in booking flights, hotels, and cars from their devices. But what’s just as interesting is how smartphone-owning travelers want to use their devices for customer service processes. Why is this so interesting? This opens more right time, right place opportunities for ancillary product merchandising, such as product up-sells or cross-sells.
- Online reviews and ratings resonate with a minority of travelers. There is both good news and bad news in travel review-land. Thirty-eight percent of travelers view online ratings and reviews as credible. The good news? A critical mass of travelers of travelers find these useful. This illustrates the natural affinity between social media and travel. The bad news? A majority of travelers don’t view ratings and reviews as credible. This is, no doubt, at least in part due to the existence of false reviews. Decisions like those of Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Marriott International to allow bona fide guests to post reviews will no doubt help the category — and aid these organizations‘ own websites as well.
I’m looking forward to digging into our data to explore ways in which travel firms can prosper. If you have ideas on reports you’d like us to consider writing, or questions you’d like us to consider asking in future surveys, please email me.
As always, thank you for your time.