If consumers are anything to go by, then the top choice of consumer sites offering travel bookings would be Amazon. That’s according to a new report by flight information site OAG on the future of bookings and payments.
Its survey of US travelers (67% leisure and 33% business), reveals that 44% would consider booking travel with Amazon if the service was available. That’s significantly higher than the next highest consumer site — Facebook — which only 14% of those surveyed would consider using as a travel booking platform.
The other sites mentioned in the survey — Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter — had only marginal consumer interest as potential travel booking platforms. LinkedIn was at the lead, earning 7% approval by consumers as a potential travel booking site.
OAG had included Google Flights in a previous survey conducted during 2017 which found that 62% of consumers would be comfortable booking directly with Google Flights if it was an option. OAG also found that 10% of all travelers and 21% of Millennial travelers start their travel search with Google.
The Amazon Echo came in behind other voice automated systems for travel booking preferences at 18% compared to Siri or Okay Google which 25% of those surveyed said they’d use to book travel.
Consumers aren’t quite ready to let intelligent assistants take over the booking process, however. Only 2% of participants say they have used a voice assistant to book travel and 49% say they can’t see themselves trusting booking assistants to remember preferences and book based on limited instructions without further review.
As many as 37% say they’d consider booking with short instructions such as, “Hey, Alexa book me a flight to San Francisco for next Monday,” and let the AI take care of the rest. Only 13% say they would be very comfortable making travel arrangements this way.
In related findings, consumers have reservations about blind bookings. Only 6% are comfortable taking up offers based on date and price with no specifics on airlines, flight times, accommodation details or sometimes even destinations. Of these different parameters consumers surveyed were most comfortable with blind flight bookings (66%) and blind hotel bookings (54%) which says something about the effectiveness of loyalty programs. Consumers were less comfortable with blind destinations (25%), experiences (23%), vacation packages (22%) or shared residence rentals like Airbnb and HomeAway (21%).
Consumers in the US. are also somewhat conservative about their payment methods. As many as 29% of those surveyed saying they aren’t interested in using any alternative payment methods mentioned in the survey. However a full 49% of those surveyed said they would pay for travel using PayPal.
The next highest preference was for Apple Pay at 42%. Google Wallet was selected by 22% of consumers surveyed and 6% of those surveyed chose Bitcoin. The preference for Bitcoin was significantly higher among Millennials at 14%.
Biometric payment options are also surprisingly popular alternatives, with any privacy concerns giving way to convenience. When asked whether they would consider paying for goods and services at the airport using fingerprints or facial recognition to approve transactions as many as 57% of those surveyed say they would.
Mike Benjamin, chief technology officer of OAG says:
“Convenience, speed and customer experience rule the travel ecosystem — and the booking and payment process is no exception. Travelers are already relying on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook for customer service. While we don’t expect a major shift in the travel booking market overnight, the threat of new startups and major tech players radically simplifying or transforming the experience should not be discounted.
“While the industry won’t change immediately, legacy airlines and booking engines need to continue to aggressively invest in innovation and the customer experience, both to win more market share and to fend off potential new entrants.”
The survey of 2,164 US travelers was conducted between December 2017 and January 2018.