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Travellers willing to spend £60 on air extras and £56 on hotel extras to ‘personalise’ their travel experience, study finds

Sabre research reveals traveller appetite for personalisation and industry opportunity to generate more ancillary revenue 

UK travellers’ willingness to spend money on “personalising” their travel journeys significantly outstrips their current spending on ancillaries, a new study by global travel technology company,  Sabre Corporation, has found.  This personalisation may represent a significant, but largely untapped, retail opportunity for hotels and airlines.

The research was revealed at Sabre’s London Technology Week event, Envision.  More than 100 travel and technology professionals gathered to hear the research insights and what the UK travel industry was doing to deliver more tailored offers and services to individual customers.

Among the top findings was the revelation that the British consumers surveyed were willing to spend an average of £61 on airline extras to personalise their trip, and £56 on extras to personalise their hotel stays. This is significantly higher than revenue currently generated by airlines from ancillary sales, which is just £10 per passenger.  

Meanwhile, 69% of travellers think it’s important to receive travel options catered to their personal travel history and preferences.  “I receive custom music options after I download a song, and my bank remembers my preferences, so it’s no surprise that consumers expect the same from their travel suppliers,” said Eric Hallerberg, Managing Director, UK and Ireland, Sabre. 

“The travel industry is leaving money on the table by not making their ancillary services more widely available, wherever and whenever the traveller wants them.  It’s a significant retail and revenue opportunity, and one we are very focused on helping our airline, hotel and agency customers address.” 

Females more willing to spend than males
Women were also more likely than men to spend on personalising their journey, with 71percent saying they’d be prepared to part with cash for airline extras, versus 63 percent of males. Willingness to spend was also higher among younger travellers, with 20 percent of 16-24-year-olds willing to fork out more than £100 on personalising their travel compared with just 10 percent of over 55s. 

Opportunity for airlines to learn from hotels
Respondents were also asked which industries they associated with personalisation.  While banking came out top with 22 percent, the hotel industry was a close second with 21 percent.  Just eight percent of respondents associated the airline industry with personalisation.  This may signal an opportunity for carriers to learn some of the tactics already deployed by hotels.

I’ll share my information but expect something in return
Along with a willingness to spend money on personalisation, some UK consumers were also willing to share personal information in return for a more personalised service, with 25 percent agreeing to share their location and 33 percent sharing their travel history with travel suppliers.

“In the hotel industry, there is a real opportunity to use information from guests to create valuable and seamless experiences for them when they return,” said Lennert De Jong, Chief Commercial Officer at Citizen M Hotels.  “For example, you set your room to 18 degrees when you stay at Citizen M; why would we, on your next check-in, give you a room that is 24 degrees?  There’s an opportunity for hotels that can learn from and respond to their guests, which will create not just additional revenue through purchasing extras, but also will garner more loyalty from travellers that feel like their hotel knows and cares about them.  Travellers are likely to experience more of this seamless personalisation from their hotels within the near future.”

Social media – here today, gone tomorrow
UK consumers were also asked about their use of social media to share travel experiences. While Facebook was still the most popular across all age groups, 16-24-year-olds used a greater number of social networks to share their experiences, including newer apps such as Instagram and Snapchat. Perhaps surprisingly, Snapchat was also used by more than 25 percent of those aged 35 and over, suggesting emerging new attitudes to sharing information with Snapchat posts lasting up to 24 hours only before being wiped.

How did Londoners compare?
Londoners exhibited different technology habits to the rest of the country, with a higher usage of Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat during travel than other UK regions.  Capital-dwellers were also more willing to spend money on air and hotel extras, stating an average figure of £80 and £69, compared with the national average of £61 and £56 respectively. 

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