Where consumers start their flight search and factors driving the booking decision

From flight shopping to day of travel, OAG’s latest passenger survey reveals current preferences and future trends. Here are some of the key findings including OTAs versus Google Flights and thoughts on the airport experience.

Travel search

Airlines and OTAs still beat Google Flights, at least for now.

OAG’s research finds that only 10 percent of North American travelers start their travel search on Google Flights. Only 23 percent of travelers use Google Flights at other points in their travel search.

Instead, the clear winners of the flight search competition are the airlines.

• 41 percent start with their favorite airline’s website or app

• 28 percent start with an online travel agency or meta search engine

• 11 percent start with discount travel websites and apps

• 10 percent start with Google Flights

• 4 percent start with travel agents

That said, OAG found that Millennials are more than twice as likely (21 percent) to start their flight search on Google Flights.

And 62 percent of survey participants said they would be comfortable booking directly through Google Flights, if this was an option.

Information and predictability

Survey participants expressed a desire for more information about their flight options and greater transparency.

• 53 percent said they’d like to know the probability that a flight’s cost will increase or decrease in the coming weeks.

• 52 percent said they wanted to know the probability that they would make their connection based on historical On-Time Performance (OTP) and route analysis.

• 46 percent wanted more transparency on baggage fees and extras.

• 40 percent wanted details on the OTP for each flight they were considering.

• 28 percent wanted more information on amenities available in-flight.

oag consumer surveyOAG says information on in-flight amenities has become less important to travelers, and is no longer viewed as critical information. The company attributes this decreased interest in amenities to passengers’ reliance on their own technology for in-flight entertainment and comfort.

On the other hand, OTP data can drive the booking decision for a significant number of travelers.

• 43 percent of those surveyed said that—price and schedule being equal—OTP becomes the deciding factor.

• 19 percent of travelers were unaware that metrics on OTP were available, but said they would use information as a deciding factor moving forward.

OAG claims that travelers value being on time enough to pay extra.

• 41% of travelers would pay a premium for a flight which guaranteed reimbursement in instances of flight delays or cancellations.

In general, fare forecasting hasn’t earned consumer trust. OAG finds that only eight percent of travelers trust travel price predictions enough to book based on those figures.

• 31 percent of travelers don’t trust fares predictions at all.

• 62 percent say fare predictions are helpful, but they don’t really influence when they book.

Getting to the airport

OAG says that ride-sharing has “eclipsed” other forms of transport in North America as an option to get to and from the airport.

• 65 percent of travelers (and 71 percent of business travelers) said they wished Uber and Lyft services were available at more airports.

But many travelers are unaware of ride-sharing options to and from the airport.

80% of survey participants said they are not aware of which airports offer ride-sharing

65% of participants wanted that information to be available as part of their flight search and booking process.

TSA and other headaches

No surprise OAG’s survey shows that travelers are frustrated by the airport security process.

• 42 percent of survey participants find security procedures and wait times to clear security irritating.

• 24 percent are upset by a lack of transparency and timely updates when flights are delayed.

• 12 percent expressed frustration with the check-in process.

• 12 percent said the baggage process tries their patience.

OAG says:

“Business travelers are especially frustrated by the lack of transparency and timely flight updates – they were 28 percent more likely to list this as their top frustration than the rest of the population.”

Better information on these way-points in the journey would relieve a considerable amount of that stress.

• 68 percent said they would want better information on security wait times

• 66 percent want to know when their flight is delayed, but they also want to know the specific cause of the delay.

• 39 percent would like to know an estimated of the time it will take them to get from land-side to air-side, arrivals to gate

• 26 percent said they’d like to know traffic conditions getting to the airport

Read also: Airports looking to reach new frontiers in the passenger experience

The TSA has actively promoted its TSA PreCheck to frequent flyers as a solution chronic long lines at security. OAG says:

“According to the TSA, more than four million travelers are enrolled in TSA PreCheck today. Of those surveyed by OAG, 43 percent of all travelers, and 60 percent of business travelers, reported being members, with another 11 percent planning to enroll in the next six months.”

But as airports also process non-vetted passengers through these queues, TSA PreCheck has lost value and credibility.

“The problem: Over the past 12 months, 45 percent of travelers with TSA PreCheck – and 57 percent of business travelers – report that TSA PreCheck has become too crowded and is losing its initial value. Nearly 44 percent of travelers went a step further, saying they would be interested in a second level of expedited security that is faster and less crowded than TSA PreCheck.”

The survey of 2,474 travelers (31 percent business travelers, 69 percent leisure travelers) was conducted from December 2016 to January 2017 and distributed to users of the company’s FlightView mobile travel app on iOS and Android.

Related reading:

Travellers want to See Airbnb show up in OTA search

Over half of all travel-related searches are for hotels

Airports looking to reach new frontiers in the passenger experience

As social media evolves, travelers demand joined-up customer service

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