A craving for trust – a consumer trend of heightened importance to the travel sector

"25 % of UK consumers agree they only buy from trusted brands +7 pts. vs. 2011".*

The general attitude that has grown most in the past five years in the UK is the idea that “I only buy products and services from a trusted brand. ”This is higher among Millennials aged 15 – 34 at 31%, and growth in this attribute is driven entirely by those aged below 50.

This cross-category trend seen in UK consumers is further accentuated in the travel sector. Genuine concerns around personal safety and security place an even greater  importance on trusting the travel company when choosing holidays.

Clearly this presents an opportunity for already established, trusted brands, not just for their core product range but also if they diversify into new offers. Reminding customers of their reputation and reasons to be trusted are powerful motivators. As travellers are pushed towards new destinations (e.g. as a result of terrorist attacks)  they will seek to do so with the emotional security of a brand they trust.

Travel brands can give the traveller confidence and peace of mind as they take the ‘risk’ of going to an unknown resort. The Jet2 campaign ‘Hold my Hand’, whilst built primarily around a message of the happiness of the holiday experience, perhaps also succeeds in strengthening a message of trust too.

Review sites and traditional word of mouth are core sources of trusted information and recommendation

Review sites are a key information source for half of all holiday bookers, both for the overall type of holiday and for the decisions around final destination.

There is considerable opportunity through review sites and other communications channels such as travel supplements, press articles, social media etc. to build trust in a travel brand.

The need for trust is heightened immediately after an extreme event

A third of travellers that have changed their travel behaviour in response to terrorist threats and attacks (15% of travellers overall and notably, 32% of young families) say that they will now only travel with (or avoid) certain airlines or travel companies. Against this background, brand trust and confidence should be seen as key to growth. Providing travellers with peace of mind, for example, by enabling them to change their holiday plans in response to an incident could lead to growth in the package and cruise markets.

Data from GfK’s ConsumerScope Travel Monitor shows this, having tracked the reasons British travellers booking a European trip gave for choosing the travel agent, tour operator, accommodation provider or airline they booked with. Our data (available on request) shows how travellers’ priorities have changed immediately following the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks, with reputation and confidence with the travel company immediately becoming significantly more important, whilst price becomes much less so. That switch in priorities then reverses over a period of weeks after the incident.

*Source: GfK Consumer Life Reports