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Smart insights: Travel and Hospitality

Travel companies are facing intense competition for customers, caused by oversupply, an increasingly fragmented market and consumer demand for services to be provided across every channel.

To stay ahead in this environment, you need travel market intelligence that captures big data across all channels and travel areas. And you need it integrated and filtered to deliver smart insights that offer the potential for bigger and better performance.

GfK is the only global research agency to provide travel, tourism and hospitality market insights based on live booking data from thousands of sales points (POS) – both offline and online, across all devices – combined with the broad industry knowledge of our travel research specialists.

This combination gives you clear understanding of what is happening and why through the entire purchase journey, from first contact to the final transaction, across all industry silos.

Whether you are an airline, accommodation provider, travel agent, tourist board, cruise line operator or travel logistics company – we monitor consumers at every touchpoint, to show you the key factors and experiences that are influencing traveler decisions within the travel and hospitality industry.

Rob Highett-Smith
Rob Highett-Smith
Australia and New Zealand
+61 2 9900 2888
Success Stories
  • Improving the user experience of a ticket machine interface

    Improving the user experience of a ticket machine interface

    20.04.2017

    Improving the user experience of a ticket machine interface

    We aimed to improve the user experience of Deutsche Bahn’s touchscreen user interface for customers, thereby improving the ticket- buying experience.

    Situation

    Deutsche Bahn sells more than 183 million tickets a year across 6,700 ticket machines at 3,900 locations in Germany and neighboring countries. These ticket machines are one of its most important distribution channels. The railway company asked us to help it test a new touchscreen user interface it was developing for its ticket machines. It wanted to refine the design and the overall process to maximize the user experience for its customers.

    Approach

    We did four iterations of qualitative interviews with participants representing a mixture of Deutsche Bahn's target users. The first iteration focused on testing different design concepts and the second and third on the needs of different audiences. In the final iteration we tested a revised concept of the current ticket machine interface based on the quick wins from the previous interviews. We had participants complete tasks with a prototype of the new user interface concept while also gaining insight into their previous experiences with ticket machines.

    Across all four iterations, we observed users’ behavior and gathered detailed feedback about their experiences with the new user interface. At the end of each test, we gave recommendations based on the findings and helped define next steps with client stakeholders who attended the sessions.

    Outcome

    By conducting this study with an iterative approach, Deutsche Bahn could test different concept ideas and refine them after each iteration. After hearing users’ feedback first-hand, along with our insights, the client’s design team took immediate action to advance their concept. They could focus on what their users wanted as they redesigned the new ticket machine user interface. Since 2006, our research and design experts have been helping Deutsche Bahn to improve the user experience of other customers’ touchpoints, too, such as the DB website and app.

    Click here to download our success story

  • Tracking holidaymakers as they plan their next trip

    Tracking holidaymakers as they plan their next trip

    01.12.2015

    GfK research helps a global travel group understand the purchasing behavior of holidaymakers and sharpen the effectiveness of its marketing and sales forecasting.

    Our client is a leading global travel and leisure group that generates revenues of more than $10 billion (€8.6 billion) from over 20 million customers each year.

    Situation

    The Internet has fundamentally transformed holidaymakers’ decision-making and purchasing patterns.
    Awareness and consideration have lost predictive power, and even consumers don’t know how they will proceed to their booking.
    In order to plan strategically and market effectively, our client needed a thorough understanding of the research and buying process.

    Approach

    We showed that consumers are unreliable predictors of their own behavior, and that tracking of actual behavior was needed.
    We set up a Media Efficiency Panel to gather demographics, intentions and purchase actions, while our browser plug-in continuously tracked all online behavior for 15,000 households. This was complemented by an offline-behavior questionnaire.

    Outcome

    • The research provided highly granular insight into consumers’ holiday purchase patterns. It analyzed how they research their trips, including the websites and search keywords used and the vital role of aggregators.
    • This allowed our client to influence the process effectively by enhancing its promotional tools and marketing at every step. It also made it easier to forecast future sales.

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

    Rob Highett-Smith
    Rob Highett-Smith
    Australia and New Zealand
  • Using guest feedback to improve the customer experience

    Using guest feedback to improve the customer experience

    28.08.2015

    Using guest feedback to improve the customer experience

    GfK partnered with the hotel group to power its new guest experience program. The hotelier uses our GfK Echo solution to gather guest feedback in real-time from numerous sources, including guest survey results, property audits and guest reviews from websites.

    This leading hotel group is one of the largest in the world and has received numerous awards for demonstrating innovation and an extraordinary level of service.

    Situation

    This leading hotel group aims to:

    • have high-quality dialogue with its guests
    • bring relevant and current data and analyses to its hotel operators so they can use it to improve the guest experience

    These goals demand that the hotelier extends the gathering of feedback beyond the traditional mechanism of surveys to include social listening intelligence from channels such as web reviews and social media.

    Approach

    We partnered with the hotel group to power its new guest experience program. The hotelier uses our GfK Echo solution to gather guest feedback in real-time from numerous sources, including guest survey results, property audits and guest reviews from websites.

    Outcome

    The hotel group now has a guest experience tool that gives it:

    • a structured way of capturing feedback from the day guests arrive at a property, in the form and channel in which they prefer to provide it
    • the ability to view feedback from multiple channels on a single dashboard
    • a means to distribute actionable customer experience information to employees and managers at each hotel

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

    Rob Highett-Smith
    Rob Highett-Smith
    Australia and New Zealand
Latest insights

Here you can find the latest insights for travel and hospitality industry. View all insights

    • 06/25/18
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    Key insights within travel: Three current themes for exploration

    With summer fast approaching – yes, it officially started on June 21st – Americans once again will be vacationing in record numbers. Recent forecasts estimate that over 246 million passengers will fly domestically between June and August (which averages to over 2.5 million per day). Flying of course is not the only travel option – with road trips being a normal part of the American genre. In fact, according to recent research from GfK Consumer Life, 67% of US leisure travelers have done so in a vehicle (vs. 54% traveling by plane). As more consumers look to travel, services such as Airbnb and Couchsurfing have become more popular – allowing many travelers to specifically land on what type of vacation they truly want. Here are three current travel trends that brands can leverage to further attract the traveler target.

    Surprise destinations

    Six in ten Americans now feel “the places where you spend your vacations” is an expression of themselves. This is now ahead of “the home you live in”, which has historically been on top when comparing both attributes (though consumers, led by Millennials are moving away from placing importance on the home). According to Airbnb’s own travel data, top destinations within the US are still considered mainstays (i.e. ‘tourist-y’) – places like New York City, Orlando, etc. However when looking at top trending destinations – those that have increased the most on searches and bookings from 2017 to 2018 – a different picture emerges. Middle American cities such as Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Columbus, OH move towards the top of the list – one can assume that travelers are undoubtedly looking for a different experience in these places. The psyche of ‘been there, done that’ and/or ‘taking it slow’ could definitely be emerging among consumers. In addition, the ‘value for dollars’ equation probably gets solved easier when visiting places that are undoubtedly more affordable.

    ‘Last Chance’ Tourism

    Americans are also acknowledging that the world is rapidly changing today: 21% cite ‘global climate change’ as a top-three concern (from a list of 21), and +6 pts from just 2015. In turn, another travel trend that has gained popularity is the notion of ‘last chance’ tourism – visiting a place before the relevant experiences, or the destination itself, is gone forever. Many tourists have visited the Great Barrier Reef in Australia to see it “before it’s gone”, which may or may not happen anytime soon. Cuba has experienced increased tourism recently – with the idea that the native culture within the country might change if and when more Americans start traveling there. Authenticity (i.e. a feeling of ‘realness’) always seems to have a place within consumer sentiments – nearly seven in ten American feel authenticity as a ‘personal value’ is extremely/very important (consistently ranking it in the top-five among a list 50 personal values in recent years). The novelty factor will continue to be a hook for travels, as 69% of Americans agree, “I am always eager to see new places and do different things”. On the domestic side, a few US national parks are playing into this trend.

    Food and travel always mix

    Think of the last time you shared your travel experience with someone (or vice versa) – questions like “how was the food?” and “where did you eat?” were probably a part of the conversation. Well then, it’s probably not a surprise that 70% of Americans travelers agree, “I always like to experience local culture and foods when I travel”. And now, newer experiences such as food tours and cooking classes are increasingly sought after by travelers (Tripadvisor says both experiences rose ~50% in 2017 among US travelers). Coinciding again with the ‘sharing economy’ or ‘access economy’, offerings such as Meal Sharing and EatWith also allow for more local & authentic food experiences. As most of us all like to travel one way or the other, expect more and more consumers to curate the travel experience they truly desire. Companies can leverage these three areas of opportunity and offer solutions that will continue to appeal to the traveler mindset.
    • 04/16/18
    • Technology
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    Tapping into people’s need to take a break

    I had two friends who posted on Facebook recently within hours of each other. One had spent the day at a theme park with her family, all of whom left their phones “in the car ON purpose. Best way to enjoy the day together!” The other had been sharing many stunning photos of a vacation in Egypt; yet on the last day, she decided not to take photos but “just to see with my own eyes.” This is hardly surprising. “Experiences are more important than possessions” perpetually ranks among the highest-rated attitudinal statements in the annual GfK Consumer Life global study. It ranks seventh out of 42 statements listed. It also ranks third for teenagers 15-19 and in Canada. Taking a tech break It is certainly ironic that my friends talked about their tech breaks on social media, yet this reflects the mixed feelings many people have toward technology. Yes, it helps us do many things we could never do before, but people are increasingly recognizing its addictive nature as a real problem. This is something that we warned about two years ago when we found that Technology Leading Edge Consumers were in the forefront of being concerned about this drawback to technology. Fully 45% of global consumers belonging to this early adopter group agreed “I find it difficult to take a break from technology, even when I know I should,” 13 points higher than average. Taking a tech break can be easier said than done, of course, and going cold turkey isn’t necessarily the answer. Some brands take a hybrid approach by promoting tech use specifically to make time for real life. For example, Citi is promoting its mobile app with a cute dad-and-kids ad and the slogan “spend the moments in the moment.” The Pocket Points app motivates students to focus on classes; when they lock their phones while on campus, they earn rewards points for local and online merchants. Another approach is to take a complete if temporary break from tech. Musician Jack White has banned phones from his upcoming concert tour because he “wants people to live in the moment.” Organizations such as the YMCA and Boy Scouts encourage families to help children take a tech break. The Story Inn goes a step further with its slogan “One Inconvenient Location Since 1851.” The Inn is actually a cluster of buildings in a virtual ghost town in Indiana that offers lodgings, dining, and a venue for special events. Rooms are billed as “One Distraction-Free, Tranquil Escape” and have been converted from the likes of a one-room schoolhouse, carriage house, and grain mill. They don’t have TVs, phones or internet service. Taking a real-life break Vacations represent a different kind of break, a pause from the real life that so many people find stressful. Destinations like Walt Disney World epitomize this type of experience on a grand scale, but an infinite number of products and services can offer mini-breaks at any time and anywhere. The Rituals home- and body-care brand emphasizes the benefits of incorporating soothing experiences into everyday life. “They are the seemingly meaningless moments we all tend to overlook. Rituals unveils these moments and reminds you to experience them with joy.” L.L. Bean encourages people to “live every day like it’s the weekend.” Then there is literal escapism – the phenomenon of escape rooms, a hybrid of team role-playing and the classic locked-room mystery. Although not for everyone (such as those with claustrophobia), they can provide respite for problem-solving thrill seekers. Most people prefer more serene escapes, however. The share of respondents to a GfK Consumer Life global survey who prefer a relaxing vacation over an active one is 62%, up 7 points from 2012. Photos submitted by respondents indicate that sandy beaches top the list of places where people like to relax, followed by other outdoor venues such as forests, lakes, gardens and parks. We don’t need research to tell us that nature makes us feel good, but in fact, research does bear this out. And yes, video games provide escapism, too, but it’s important to keep in mind that most people still don’t view virtual experiences on par with the real thing. Just 30% of global consumers agree that “virtual interactions with people and places can be as good as being there in person,” ranking it #40 among 42 attitudinal statements. Conclusion Virtually every product and service can tap into people’s desire for experiences, whether they be social or solitary, physical or intellectual, tech or non-tech. The key is to understand precisely what kind of experience your customers crave. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, 'f959b7ac-800c-45ab-bd5f-350e588da27a', {});
    • 01/30/18
    • Press
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Global
    • English

    Paris continues its reign as highest-rated city

    The latest Anholt-GfK City Brands IndexSM (CBISM) reveals that Paris retains its position at the top. 
    • 11/22/17
    • Health
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Global
    • English

    What does living ‘the good life’ really mean? Hear it from consumers

    When we think about “living the dream” or “living the good life”, we usually think about health, family, work, experiences and finances.  But what is really the most important in the eyes of consumers, and how do those factors stack up against each other? This was the focus of our most recently published global study, where we asked thousands of consumers around the world about which factors they personally see as being an essential part of ‘the good life’ or the life they’d like to have.  Would the results differ by age group or from country to country?  And have any new trends emerged this year? Here are the factors in order of international popularity, according to consumers.

    Top factors internationally

    As seen above, the top ranking factors internationally for being part of “the good life” are good health, financial security, and free time/leisure time, followed by a happy marriage, the ability to travel for leisure, owning a home, control over one’s own life and a job that is interesting. What’s also revealing is the factors that rank lower on the list, such as children, spiritual enrichment, having a nice yard and a lawn, and having a luxury car or second car. For brands and marketers, the results of this global study have implications on the future and what consumers value most.  Are your products and services aligned with the consumer’s vision of their ideal life?  What kind of messaging and advertising will resonate best with consumers and which products and services have the most increasing or decreasing mass appeal? In digging a little deeper, we see that there are variances for each age bracket, with younger age groups seeing a college education as more essential to the good life, and older age groups placing more emphasis on financial security.  Clearly, those with more life experience value the security blanket that health and wealth provides, whereas it could be argued that the younger demographic trends more toward prioritizing accumulating those life experiences.

    What are the differences regionally?

    To help identify specific market opportunities, we offer a country by country breakdown of the results from our global study. Financial security, which is the second highest ranking factor internationally, has the most resonance with consumers in Russia, followed by Germany and Belgium.  On the other hand, when it comes to travelling for leisure as part of the good life, Argentina takes the lead, followed by Brazil and Spain.

    What this means for brands

    So what does it really mean to live the good life, and how can businesses respond?  As consumers internationally increasingly value time and experiences over materials and possessions, balanced with more practical factors like good health and financial security, they will continue to look to brands to help them achieve the life they’d like to have.  The brands that are able to deliver on fulfilling this promise will live “the good life” of their own, with a healthy business, financial security, and control of their own life.

    About the study

    The survey question asked, “When you think of the Good Life – the life you’d like to have – which of the things on this list, if any, are part of that Good Life as far as you, personally, are concerned?: A home you own; Good health; A happy marriage; A job that is interesting; Children; A yard and lawn/a nice garden; Free time/leisure time; Spiritual enrichment; A college education; Financial security; A luxury car or second car; Travel for leisure; Really nice clothes / accessories / jewelry; Having the latest electronics and gadgets for my home; Control over one’s own life; None of the above; Don’t know” GfK interviewed 23,000 consumers online in 17 countries in the summer 2017. Data are weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the online population aged 15+ in each market. The global average given in this release is weighted, based on the size of each country proportional to the other countries. 4 Countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, UK and USA. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, '95504ccc-2c71-46d8-8d2f-04ad49517883', {});
Solutions
  • Brand and Customer Experience (BaCE)

    Brand and Customer Experience (BaCE)

    Brands are under pressure to develop emotional connections and relationships with consumers and business decision makers.  Brands need to respond in-the-moment, to enrich the customer experience – and develop strategies that influence ”moments of truth” throughout individual brand journeys.  

  • Market Opportunities and Innovation (MOI)

    Market Opportunities and Innovation (MOI)

    Brands are under constant pressure to maintain relevance in an increasingly crowded market. Identifying when, where and how to deliver compelling experiences that deliver new value for both consumers and brands is critical.

  • Point of Sales Tracking

    Point of Sales Tracking

    Retailers and manufacturers are under pressure to develop products and services that maximize sales and profit and to keep customers coming back.

    Success relies on having the most up-to-date sales data, combined with robust analysis to understand which products and services are performing well in the market – and which are not. With this information, clients can set clear strategies for commercial growth and increase return on investment.

  • User Experience (UX)

    User Experience (UX)

    Our user experience (UX) research and design experts help our clients create and improve customer experiences for existing or new products and services

    Today’s consumer is bombarded with promises for compelling experiences. They are sophisticated and demanding.  To be successful, a new product or service needs to be intuitive, usable, engaging and desirable. The user experience needs to be emotional in order to be memorable.

  • Geomarketing

    Geomarketing

    Our geomarketing solutions and consultancy provide our clients with smart insights into location-specific factors that impact the success of business sites, shops, sales territories, target groups, as well as chain store and distribution networks.

  • Mystery Shopping

    Mystery Shopping

    Consumers face a complex array of brand touch points every day of their lives. To deliver a consistent brand experience, marketers need to know how consumers are actually experiencing their brand. Our mystery shoppers give you all the help you need to understand these experiences, and respond to them to maximize the return for your business.

Contact us
Rob Highett-Smith
Australia and New Zealand
General