When it comes to planning a vacation, a lot of people find the whole researching and booking process a little overwhelming. With thousands of websites offering you comparisons of hundreds of thousands of vacations, it’s difficult to know where to start. So how do you decide which flight ticket to buy and which hotel room to book?
Choosing where to book a vacation
Destination and dates are not the only things you need to consider when booking a vacation; they're just the tip of the iceberg. You will be pulled in every direction by adverts from travel agents and providers showing you long sandy beaches, luxurious villas and stunning sunsets. Nowadays that has next to no influence on your decision. What does impact where you end up booking largely comes down to three things: cost, experiential value, and most of all, what your friends are saying about it.
Customer service beats cost-cutting
Vacation planning is simultaneously exciting and stressful as there are so many different elements to consider, like cost, amenities and what’s in the local area. Everyone will have a different priority but when it comes to picking an airline, most people are starting to deem the customer service is more important than the price. For 41% of British travellers and 38% of American travellers, the attitude of the staff and the crew is the most important factor. They’re more likely to be a loyal customer, even if it costs more than another airline. This is important because most people have no brand loyalty when it comes to choosing an airline. For a lot of people, the cost of flight tickets is the deciding factor when booking a flight.
However, you probably have a favourite coffee shop, and it’s your favourite based on factors like the ambience of the shop, the taste, the barista remembering your name and order — not the cost of the coffee. A cup of coffee from a big franchise costs about £3 or $5; a flight ticket can cost thousands. It’s baffling that we’re not picky about which airline we fly with but we wouldn’t even think to get coffee from anywhere else. In part, this is because there is a certain status attributed to the “savvy traveller”. Budget carriers tap into this status symbol and offer ridiculously low prices for flights to appeal to your desire to be considered “savvy”. There’s almost a sense of pride in being able to say: “You paid how much? I got my flight for half the price!” And yeah, it’s a good feeling when you get a discount on something as expensive as a vacation. However, that smugness might dissipate as you squeeze into the middle seat and have to pay £10 for a sandwich and a bottle of water from the trolley service.
Things are changing as we shift our priorities away from the financial and towards the experiential. We all like to feel like we’re valued as a customer - especially when you consider the recent scandals with some budget airlines which make it seem like customer service is now a luxury. Experience is beginning to take priority over prices and we think that, in a highly competitive industry which is consistently fighting with tight profit margins, this is good news. Businesses can potentially shift their focus to providing great services and away from cost-cutting to avoid bankruptcy.
Your friends will ultimately decide where you go
Changes in how airlines compete will naturally affect us but what we find more intriguing right now is the power of recommendations. The only way that travel providers will move from a cheap, no-frills approach to a more careful, considerate and customer-focused model, is if negative peer-to-peer reviews affect their numbers. It might seem far-fetched that one person telling another person not to use a certain airline or hotel will make profits fall. Word of mouth can be underrated when it comes to how well businesses do but it’s evident in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries that it really does matter. Recommendations not only inspire people, they truly have an impact on the decision-making process.
You might wonder if this actually converts to bookings. Whilst there are no statistics on airlines at the moment, academics have started to investigate this influence within the hotel industry. In 2012, a Slovenian study was conducted to work out the reason why people booked at certain hotels, which discovered that location is the most important factor when it comes to choosing a hotel to stay at, followed by the recommendation of a friend or travel agency. It also found that up to 41% of people would make a reservation based on a friend’s review. When you stop and think about it, of course you’re more likely to trust a friend than an advertising campaign. Your friend has no stakes in it so you know they have no ulterior motive (like a business trying to sell you something). If you choose not to follow their recommendation, it’s no loss to them. There’s a well-known study of 58,000 people by Forrester which found that 70% of US adults trust their friends and family, 46% trust online reviews by other consumers and only 10% trust ads on websites. Anecdotally, you can probably recall a time when a friend recommended a restaurant or shop, and you took their advice. Even if there is only a 50% chance that they’re right about how good that restaurant or shop is, the business still earned money from you and potentially gained another returning customer.
Bad customer service will stop you from booking
Returning to the battle of cost versus customer service, what is it that drives friends and families to recommend an airline or hotel to you? Well, 33% of UK travellers say that interactions with friendly staff were the main reason for suggesting an airline to a friend. Obviously, when it comes to a memorable vacation, you don’t recall the £20 you saved when booking but the experience itself. The only thing is that sometimes your friends can’t offer you a recommendation, or they only have negative reviews about a certain airline. This is when you turn to other factors like cost comparison, which puts you at risk of booking a flight or hotel room you won’t enjoy.
That’s one of the great things about TransferTravel.com. Every single listing is a booking someone else made that they can’t use anymore. They’ve done all the research and planning before they originally paid for it, so you know that they’ve chosen hotels they’d genuinely like to stay at and airlines they’re happy to fly with. Instead of having to scroll through three-star reviews for hundreds of vacations, you have the best of the best all in one spot. Our marketplace is like the ultimate curated list of recommendations.
What are you waiting for? Find your next vacation in the world’s #1 travel marketplace now!