With the first month of 2019 almost behind us, conference planning season is officially underway. Unlike previous years, W5 plans to take their insights (and flights) to new heights. This year we are attending all three The Quirk’s Event in London, Brooklyn, and Chicago. New territory means new learning curves—but also gives way for new opportunities! In the midst of the early stages of travel planning, it is apparent that the traditional consumer journey has evolved for prospecting travelers. What was once comprised of a simple Google search accompanied by a few clicks is now a more immersive consumer-focused journey, targeting prospects earlier and more strategically. As market researchers we have a deep understanding and familiarity when it comes to studying Consumer Journeys. Needless to say, we were interested in exploring this topic further.
Debatably, the most important component of travel is transportation. Aviation is popular by demand. Reports show 48% of Americans traveled by plane in 2017. Shopping for tickets is now easier than ever. With price monitoring apps like Hopper, shoppers are provided real-time updates that notify users when ticket prices fluctuate. When the time does come to buy, shoppers have an array of travel search engines to ensure they are getting the best deal. Websites including Skyscanner, eSky, and Kayak hunt for best prices and provide price comparison.
Another factor to consider is sleep accommodations. Traditionally, hotels were a go-to for travelers. But with new options emerging (i.e., Airbnb, VRBO, etc.), a new layer of complexity has been added to the consumer journey. Now travelers are forced to consider the type of experience they’d prefer, choosing between one marketed to be a “home away from home” vs. a more luxe experience.
Traditionally reserved for travel experts, today’s consumer is participating in the day-to-day activity planning. Finding things to do in a foreign environment is not as daunting as it once was. Airbnb offers Experiences, allowing users to explore activities curated by hosts on the site. Shoppers have also taken to travel vlogs to gain deeper insights and inspire new activity ideas. Vlog viewers get “eyes on the inside,” assessing the vlogger’s travel experience through video rather than text.
As the W5 team prepares for a year of new travel experiences, we are also noting the changes that have impacted our journey as consumers. Leveraging the growing number of travel options and travel insights, we can all agree that more informed decision-making strategies will take place when planning the upcoming conference season.