Hands-free technology is the new key to worry-free travel.
With hygiene and sanitation at the top of everyone’s mind over the past year, airlines and hotels were quick to implement practices and procedures to allay traveler concerns and make them feel safe enough to travel. Social distancing and mask requirements were useful as temporary measures, but it’s clear that innovative long-term solutions are needed for the travel industry to get back to business as usual.
That need has accelerated the trend toward touchless travel technology. Paperless boarding passes and smartphone hotel keys have been around for years, but they were far from universally implemented. To learn whether the pandemic has increased demand for touchless tech among travelers, and to understand what other long-term changes consumers expect to see in the travel industry, we recently surveyed members of the 360 Travel Community as part of our ongoing travel market research.
Our research shows that touchless travel technologies that were once viewed as simple conveniences are now considered mandatory tools to help people feel safer when traveling. It looks like touchless technology may be the key to recovery for the travel market.
About 8 out of 10 consumers expect touchless tech to become a permanent part of the travel experience.
Our survey indicated that consumers have come to view touchless tech as a cleaner, safer way to travel, helping them feel more confident about their health and safety. Options like contactless payment, contactless bag check, electronic check-in kiosks at airports and hotels, digital travel documents, and TSA PreCheck® all contribute to an enhanced sense of safety.
Consumers have begun to see these changes as a mandatory and permanent part of their travel expectations. They consider contactless efforts to be the “price of admission” for the travel industry, and 3 out of 4 say they are not willing to pay extra to use touchless technology.
Touch-free options are viewed as the cost of doing business that the industry must absorb, which may represent an opportunity for brands to get ahead of the trend by promoting complementary touchless travel tools.
Consumers also expect a higher standard of cleanliness going forward.
Another long-term change that 8 out of 10 consumers expect to see in the travel industry is the continuation of enhanced cleaning and sanitation practices that began during the pandemic. Staying healthy while traveling has always been a top concern, so it’s not surprising that travelers have come to appreciate the new, more diligent, and visible focus on sanitation at airports and hotels.
Travel businesses can gain a competitive advantage by making an extra effort to maintain clean facilities. It’s a simple way to make travelers feel more welcome and comfortable, and it reflects well on any brand. As other pandemic-related measures like mask mandates are eased, the importance of enhanced cleaning measures will likely remain for years to come.
Touchless tech may play a larger role as pandemic restrictions subside.
Our survey revealed some optimistic news: 7 out of 10 consumers anticipate a return to normal regarding COVID restrictions like capacity limits, mask mandates, quarantine requirements, and “bubble dining,” all of which are now seen as short-term measures that will eventually come to an end.
As those restrictions wind down, long-term changes like touchless travel technology and enhanced cleaning procedures may come to be seen as even more important, helping to reassure travelers that—even though more visible precautions are no longer in place—businesses are still making their health and safety a top priority.
Read what consumers are saying about touchless tech and travel safety in their own words.
Our survey elicited a number of intriguing and insightful responses from consumers about their current and future expectations about their travel experiences.
Our 360 Travel Community members spoke about the existing measures they want to remain in place, the new measures they want to see implemented, and the restrictions they expect will be removed once the pandemic winds down.
We’ve compiled their responses in an informative report, “In Their Own Words: Consumers Talk About The Future Of Travel.” Download it now to read actual quotes from members of our proprietary online community of U.S. travelers, and learn exactly what they’re saying about the future of the travel industry.