Americans are slowly (about 20%) becoming comfortable utilizing artificial intelligence, via travel bots (e.g. Alexa or Google Home) to book personal trips abroad. The awareness and acceptance is happening as more Americans plan to travel to Europe and Asia-Pacific this year.
According to a new survey for WEX and Mastercard, younger consumers are more engaged with new travel technologies and report being more open to receiving personalized suggestions digitally. Almost one-quarter of all respondents (24%) would allow a computer to plan a trip based on data from their previous travel history; however, Gen Z and Millennials are almost three times as willing to consider this than Boomers.
From yoga retreats to international hiking trips, cycling adventures, volunteering or “foodie” tours, all signs point to travelers being more adventurous in 2019—and younger travelers seem to be driving this shift. They’re also more likely than Gen X and particularly Boomers to combine leisure travel with a purpose, such as volunteering, and to travel to take a class or learn a new skill.
The research also reveals older travelers still prefer to book directly with an airline or hotel while online travel agencies are more popular with Millennials. Age even has bearing on how travelers pay for their getaways. Older travelers are more likely to use their credit cards to pay for travel expenses, while younger travelers are more likely to use debit cards.
The desire for pampered, comfortable accommodations outweighs the thirst for accommodations that offer an authentic, live-like-a-local experience. Across age cohorts, hotels remain the most popular accommodation type. Three quarters of those who prefer to stay in hotels do so because they like feeling that everything is taken care of for them. The majority of travelers also say they prefer staying in a hotel because it makes them feel like a tourist.
Gen Z and Millennials are most open to sharing economy services like Airbnb and Uber. For Millennials, the majority sentiment is sharing economy services allow them to afford travel. Many respondents also reported that they use these services because they make them feel like a local.
Meanwhile, another survey found travel is a top priority for millennials and they know their way around the credit card rewards game. About 16% make it a priority to apply for credit cards with big mileage bonuses; 7% use their status from premium credit cards for hotel upgrades; 7% use airline miles to fly business class; 7% hire local guides while traveling; and 6% use premium cards for free lounge access.