Travel & Leisure

Changing Consumer Preferences in Travel Industry

( | Press Release | 2021-05-12 23:43:57 )
The travel and tourism industry has been badly affected by the ongoing economic and social crisis caused by COVID-19, with a huge drop in the international market as a result of global travel restrictions. The paradigm has shifted and to decode the changes, we, the students of Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies under the aegis of the University of Delhi conducted a survey on the Travel and Tourism industry to understand consumer preferences.

21st-century travelers are becoming more informed, more empowered, and are able to organize their trips independently. According to our research, 74.65 % of the respondents self-design their trips, 10.03 % use pre-planned packages and only 15.32% prefer travel agent-aided planning. The major reason being the digital era that allows tourism consumers to look for plenty of information on a brink of time and craft trips according to their own needs. Those customers who rely on travel agencies to organize their holiday face a major challenge in deciding where to go and how to carry out plans. Moreover, problems like digging through reviews for relevant information, budgeting, and lack of planning tools on travel websites hamper the planning and booking process. Through our research, we found out that high pricing of the travel packages is the most significant problem that customers face, followed by cumbersome booking procedures and lack of integration of services on a single platform.
The travel agency industry, which was once responsible for booking tickets and hotels, has now been nearly obliterated by online travel agents (OTAs)..Founder of TripMagus, Piyush Jain quoted, ”OTAs are the future of the travel industry. Where earlier travel planning used to be a complicated, anxiety-fraught exercise, travelers today feel much more in control of their bookings due to OTAs”. The data from our survey shows that 82% of the respondents book their flights via OTA's while only a minor section i.e 4% and 6% of respondents refer to offline agencies and tour operators respectively. Additionally, the breakout of covid has made approximately 17 % of our respondents shift to online agencies from offline, while 73% already used online travel agencies. When respondents were asked about how often they switch to an OTA platform more than half of them claimed to switch quite frequently like on every trip or once every 2-3 trips.

Since a majority of the respondents chose online travel agencies as their go-to platform for planning and booking their trips, it was found that there were some features that consumers preferred more to be available on OTAs. Around 14% of the respondents find customizable packages to be an essential feature on online platforms and 13% of respondents believe that these platforms should be inclusive of the user traveling experience and reviews. 12% of respondents selected 'free travel planning and booking consultancy' along with 'budget estimates according to destination' as one of their top preferences. Moreover, 9% of the respondents also look for on-trip personalized recommendations as well as visa support in OTAs.
One of the most difficult problems in the tourism industry is being able to include offerings that are specifically tailored to the needs of customers. And, as a result of the effect of technology on our lives, the environment is evolving at a faster pace. Consumers in the tourism industry are changing their tastes in sync. In an ever-changing market environment, travel providers must be ready to seize every opportunity that allows them to create a unique and meaningful experience for their customers. The survey's findings provide some empirical data on travellers' attitudes in the twenty-first century. They have moved to the online medium (OTAs) which they believe is more convenient and independent resulting in wiping out of the travel agency business, which was once in charge of booking tickets and hotels. Their top priorities include 'free travel planning and booking consultancy,' followed by 'budget estimates according to destination. Furthermore, they look to OTAs for on-trip customized reviews as well as visa assistance. Based on the survey result, we can summarise that an online travel platform that integrates all the services needed by a customer while booking and planning a trip while also solving the problems such as pricing, on-trip support, and transaction support is something that customers want.

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Piyush Jain

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