Who doesn’t remember the 1994 episode of Saturday Night Live where David Spade and Helen Hunt act as the most insensitive airline crew? We laugh at this exaggeration because we can remember at least one less than pleasant travel incident.
Travel is indeed about experience. Whether shopping for airline tickets, renting cars, going on cruises or choosing hotels, travel purchasers are most likely to refer to their past dealings with brands and establishments.
Findings from S. Radoff Associates’ Large Purchase Study shows that discounts may sway travel service purchasers’ decisions. About one-fifth of travel purchasers say their buying decisions are influenced by such offers.
Like discounts, the impact of word of mouth on travel purchases is also dwarfed by the significant role of past experience. Fewer than a quarter of travel purchasers say they were driven by offline or online buzz when making their final choices.
Word of mouth is more likely to influence cruise and hotel choices and less likely to impact airline and car rental service choices. Cruise fans are the only group of travel purchasers who indicate that face-to-face conversations (32 percent) and online word of mouth (23 percent) influence their buying decisions.
Marketing, media and peer-to-peer channels may drive trial and awareness of travel services. Yet brand trust and customer loyalty are closely linked with experience. Customer satisfaction is travel industry’s key variable for growth.
To download the full report on how consumers make their travel purchases and how sources of consumer decisions vary by age, parenthood and ethnicity, please click here.