Trust in travel
Trust is fragile. It takes a lifetime to build, and can be broken in an instant.
Consumer distrust in the travel industry has been simmering underneath the surface for years. Now the world is reopening, people are watching to see what we do next. This is our opportunity to wipe the slate clean, by reminding travelers what they’ve been missing.
Travelport partnered with the world’s leading authority on trust, Edelman Data & Intelligence (DxI) to take the pulse on consumer trust in travel. We surveyed 10,000 people across the UK, Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia, the US, Canada, India, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand — asking them questions on different elements of trust. Here are the headlines.
Levels of trust
Trust Hinges on Expectation
Major tech companies like Amazon, Alibaba, Netflix, and Spotify changed consumer expectations forever. Truly modern retailers, these companies are there for customers all the time, any time, on every channel, with a little UX magic thrown in just for fun. When you shop them, you use their tools, you access advice from other customers, you compare costs and brands with ease. If travel retailing falls short of these standards, people notice. So, we need to get in step.
We asked respondents whether they felt they could trust travel companies to do the right thing. Travel is inherently a leap of faith. Because when we travel, we’re taking a journey into the unknown. Trust underpins the entire experience, and that starts with a booking. And for businesses, being trusted enables success.
Our research shows that when trust exists:
Do people trust travel?
Level of trust by industry
Levels of trust
We’ve Got Work to Do
As an industry we’re not quite bottom of the class (that accolade goes to Financial Services, while Healthcare scores high in the year of the vaccine). But Edelman’s research shows we’re still scoring low.
Only 46% trust the travel industry
Makes sense. over 70% have had their trust broken by a travel business in the past
Travel's got trust issues
Trust in travel agencies
Agencies could do better: people have relatively low levels of trust in travel agencies, depending on type.
Trust in airlines
Trust varies by carrier type:
Trust major international and regional airlines
Trust low-cost carriers
Hotels are the most trusted
Factors influencing trust
1. Price Transparency
People hate ‘hidden’ costs. They expect transparency and personalization, with a clear fee structure and a product tailored to their needs.
Price transparency is more important to travelers than anything. That’s not an exaggeration — along with fully flexible or refundable products, people ranked it 16% more influential on trust than an airline’s long-term safety record.
'No hidden costs'
For 55% But 60% Say this isn’t delivered.
The majority thinks the travel industry managed covid-19 well.
We impressed 56%
2. Performance During COVID-19
Travelers are raring to get back on the move, and they give the industry reasonably high marks for reacting to COVID-19. They may forgive past negative experiences if we prove trustworthy now.
Some sectors have fared better than others. Major international hotels were some of the first businesses in the sector to reopen, regaining consumer trust through clear, consistent safety measures and transparent cancellation policies. Beyond COVID-19, hotels build trust by prioritizing the traveler experience in ways airlines often do not. A simple example is the mindset of welcoming ‘guests’ not ‘passengers’.
Travelers are also still wary about some measures like air filtration, social distancing, and managed boarding being fully implemented, and need more reassurance around refund/exchange flexibility.
People value their privacy — that’s not new. Travelers have higher trust in companies using information shared voluntarily with them rather than from elsewhere. The most trusted sources include one-to-one conversations, while the lowest form is through tracking their social media activity.
90% will talk
about a negative exprience
40% will post
Online about a negative experience
4. Negative Experiences
Other people’s opinions matter to travelers. Reviews have been democratized by platforms like TripAdvisor, Instagram, and Facebook, and consumers have the power and confidence to use them to vent or resolve a grievance. When travelers say trust is the most important factor when buying, negative word of mouth is costly.
for trip planning
The Good, The Bad, and the Untrustworthy
People use a combination of different sources when planning a trip, Some are more trusted than others.
The key takeaway across consumers of all ages is that reviews and word of mouth are the most trusted options, as they perceive their interests to be aligned to their own.
Nobody Trusts Shills
People generally don’t trust celebs’ or influencers’ word for planning a trip. That doesn’t mean famous travel aficionados and legit expert bloggers don’t know their stuff. The point is, consumers know the difference between paid partnerships and genuine recommendations that are unmotivated by financial or personal gain. Like we said, people value transparency, which may be why celebs and influencers score lowest on trust, at 25-30%.
It’s the same story when it comes to types of information. People value the opinions or insights of other travelers more than travel companies or paid third parties.
Gen Z Are Wary of…Everyone
Misinformation is a huge part of the zeitgeist for Gen Z, and it’s made them suspicious consumers. Gen Z just about trust their friends and family but are skeptical of those with agendas misaligned with theirs.
Compared to Millennials at 48% (the second youngest consumer demographic), that’s on the decline. This indicates a worrying trend on the horizon among the biggest economic driving force.
Gen Z Don't trust
Only 38% do, the lowest score of all age groups
Ways to rebuild trust
Embrace modern retailing
How Can We Improve Consumer Trust in Travel?
The answer to the three trillion-dollar question is: by embracing and building on modern retailing standards.
Travel is a human need. We’ve got a great product, but we need to do better at selling it — and we can learn that from other industries. We’re at a unique point in history where we’ve got an opportunity to reset, and the technology to do it. The speed at which that happens will determine both recovery and our future success.
Hello modern retailing
Find out how Travelport+ is modernizing travel retailing and simplifying how travel buyers and sellers connect.