Younger travelers are keen to engage with bots and are more likely to be swayed by personalized offers as they head into 2019.
According to a new report co-authored by WEX Inc. and Mastercard, 36% of Gen Z and 32% of millennial travelers in the United States believe chatbots or digital assistants would make the booking experience easier and frictionless.
Comparatively, 22% of Gen X travelers and just 11% of baby boomer travelers agree with that sentiment.
Overall, awareness of travel bots has increased only slightly from 2017 to 2018, the report finds, with 21% of those surveyed across generations saying they’d be comfortable booking a trip via voice assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home.
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Although 69% of travelers across generations say they would prefer a human to answer their travel questions over a computer, younger consumers are more open to technology holding the reins.
Some 33% of millennial and 32% of Gen Z travelers say they’re comfortable allowing a computer to plan a trip based on data from their travel history - almost three times more than baby boomers at 13%.
Millennial and Gen Z travelers - at 45% and 37%, respectively - also say they’re likely to book a flight after receiving a personalized notification, such as a marketing email, compared to 35% of Gen X and 20% of baby boomer travelers.
According to the report, online travel agencies that utilize data to create personalized offers will be positioned to win over the next generation of consumers.
The sharing economy
The 2019 Trends and Expectations Report also finds that younger travelers are more open to sharing economy services such as Uber, Airbnb and HomeAway, though for accommodations, travelers across all age groups still prefer hotels.
About 62% of Gen Z travelers and 56% of millennials are open to using services like Airbnb, and for millennials, 53% believe the sharing economy allows them to afford travel.
Overall, survey respondents say they prefer hotels because everything is taken care of (74%) and they make them feel like a tourist (64%), while 39% of travelers say they prefer home-shares because they help them feel like a local.
In 2019, the report predicts hotels and online travel companies will shift their offerings to include more discounts, rewards and reviews to make travel more affordable and locally driven for millennial and Gen Z travelers.