SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine--(BUSINESS WIRE)--WEX Inc. (NYSE: WEX), a leading provider of corporate payment solutions, has released its 2019 Travel Trends and Expectations report in partnership with Mastercard, which conducted the primary research. For the second consecutive year, the report yields rich insight into how U.S. travelers view the travel landscape and how these attitudes and preferences will impact travel behaviors in 2019. This data is intended to help inform travel companies of the shifts in the travel market as business planning for the new year solidifies.
Among the key findings, travel abroad is anticipated to increase in 2019. In particular, more travelers say they will travel to Europe in 2019 than in 2018, and Asia/Pacific has become a popular destination among younger travelers. The data uncovered additional trends, including:
- AI as the new travel agents: The data showed a slight increase in awareness of travel bots—which allow travel booking by voice—from 2017 to 2018, with 21 percent of surveyed Americans saying they would be comfortable booking a trip by voice (e.g., with Alexa or Google Home). Nearly a quarter of respondents among all age groups (23 percent) agree that a digital assistant would improve the booking experience.
- Travel with a purpose: From yoga retreats to international hiking trips, cycling adventures, volunteering or “foodie” tours, all signs point to travelers being more adventurous in 2019—and younger travelers seem to be driving this shift. They’re also more likely than Gen X and particularly Boomers to combine leisure travel with a purpose, such as volunteering, and to travel to take a class or learn a new skill.
- Age is more than just a number: In terms of how people book, older travelers still prefer to book directly with an airline or hotel while online travel agencies are more popular with Millennials. Age even has bearing on how travelers pay for their getaways. Older travelers are more likely to use their credit cards to pay for travel expenses, while younger travelers are more likely to use debit cards.
- Sharing economy shaking up traditional models: The two cohorts that are most open to sharing economy services like Airbnb and Uber are Gen Z (62 percent) and Millennials (56 percent). For Millennials in particular (53 percent), the majority sentiment is that sharing economy services allow them to afford travel. Many respondents also reported that they use these services because they make them feel like a local.
- Hotels still rule in accommodations: The desire for pampered, comfortable accommodations outweighs the thirst for accommodations that offer an authentic, live-like-a-local experience. Across age cohorts, hotels remain the most popular accommodation type. Three quarters of those who prefer to stay in hotels do so because they like feeling that everything is taken care of for them. The majority of travelers also say they prefer staying in a hotel because it makes them feel like a tourist.
- Personalization inspires younger consumers to pull the trigger: As expected, younger users are more engaged with new travel technologies and report being more open to receiving personalized suggestions digitally. Almost one-quarter of all respondents (24 percent) would allow a computer to plan a trip based on data from their previous travel history; however, Gen Z and Millennials are almost three times as willing to consider this than Boomers.
“Technology is the thread connecting many of our travel findings and predictions for 2019,” said Jay Dearborn, president of WEX Corporate Payments. “The influence of technology on the travel industry, and on both the imagination and preparedness of today’s travelers, simply cannot be overstated. It is our hope that this report provides travel industry professionals with the insights they need to reach today’s self-directed travelers where they’re most likely to be: online.”
“Now that we’re in our second year of working with WEX to develop this report, we’ve been able to compare and track changes from the previous year, giving us great insight into exactly where the shifts in Americans’ travel habits and expectations are occurring,” said Ed Glassman, executive vice president North American markets at Mastercard. “Disruptive new services and technologies have made it a very exciting time to be both a consumer and a provider of travel services.”
Download the full report here.
The 25-minute self-administered web-based interviews were conducted from Oct. 3, 2018, through Oct. 22, 2018. There were 1,502 total respondents, with key demographic segments including, Gen Z, 18-20 (90); Millennials, 21-34 (436); Gen X, 35-54 (556); and Boomers, 55-70 (421). Before taking the survey, respondents were screened to ensure they had taken three or more personal (non-business related) overnight trips in the past 12 months.
Powered by the belief that complex payment systems can be made simple, WEX Inc. (NYSE: WEX) is a leading provider of payment processing and business solutions across a wide spectrum of sectors, including fleet, travel and healthcare. WEX operates in more than 10 countries and in more than 20 currencies through more than 3,500 associates around the world. WEX fleet cards offer 11.5 million vehicles exceptional payment security and control; purchase volume in its travel and corporate solutions grew to $30.3 billion in 2017; and the WEX Health financial technology platform helps 300,000 employers and more than 25 million consumers better manage healthcare expenses. For more information, visit www.wexinc.com.
Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. Our global payments processing network connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.