Additionally 83% of millennials place a premium on personalization and are willing to have brands track their habits in exchange for a bespoke experience.
'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, evp 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.'
The recent online study, which surveyed more than 1,000 consumers, found people are placing an even higher premium on the experiences they enjoy through travel. Eighty-two percent are more interested in making memories than making money, and 85% plan to travel as much, if not more, for leisure in the next five years. Some 91% would rather focus on meaningful life experiences over their profession.
When it comes to planning, travelers want to be involved in all aspects, from preparing an itinerary to documenting and sharing their experiences with others. In addition, most respondents (85%) said a customized itinerary is far more appealing than a pre-packaged one, and 72% would spend more time planning a trip that is tailored to their interests. Additionally, 90% said they appreciate the efforts of a travel professional to customize an experience based on their preferences.
Contrary to the perception that technological advances can replace human customer service, the study found the personal touch remains critical, with 93% of respondents saying the value of personal service cannot be replaced despite digital advances in the travel industry. This is especially true for moments when something goes awry. Eighty-nine percent said they also want human assistance for canceled flights or lost luggage, and 53% said they want it for getting an insider scoop on a destination.
Travelers prefer technology, though, for some aspects of their trip planning. When it comes to booking flights and hotels, 76% of respondents said they turn to technology. Seventy-three percent use the web for researching places to go for leisure travel, and 60% use tech features to check in to flights or hotels and nearly half (47%) of respondents and 65% of millennials say the ability to share their travels experiences on social media adds to the enjoyment of the trip.
Since high-touch personal service will be a critical component of the optimal travel experience, American Express Travel—as part of its 100th anniversary this month—is launching a campaign highlighting 'Journeymakers,' the travel service professionals who can make travel more memorable.
American Express Travel created a digital experience at www.journeymakers.com where consumers are invited to share their own stories and recognize the Journeymakers they have met through their travels. Travel partners such as Delta Air Lines and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide are also participating.
Plus, the platform lets travelers show their appreciation by sending a personalized, printed note to a Journeymaker, which will be delivered to the Journeymaker by using a map technology powered by TripAdvisor. Additionally, visitors are encouraged to share their Journeymaker moments with a social postcard that can be used on their own social media platforms.
American Express Travel is offering special experiences for select destinations and other travel discounts beginning July 13 through Aug. 31 as part of its anniversary celebration.
Promotion details are here, while the full American Express travel trends study—including findings on UK, Mexican and Chinese travelers—is here.