Customers who book travel online hanker after the human touch when things go wrong, according to new research by a customer experience firm.
Responding to Webhelp’s UK survey, 81% of people said they tend to book travel online or via a mobile app and 77% book their main holiday of the year using an electronic device.
Among 18 to 24-year-olds, that figure rises to 93% while 90% of 35 to 44s do the same.
But when things go wrong with our travel plans we turn our backs on technology, according to data from the survey of 500 consumers.
Overall, 67% of people surveyed said they would prefer to resolve a travel issue that occurred before their journey by telephone or face-to-face. The human touch is even more important for the over 65s, with 81% of them choosing the telephone or face-to-face options.
And 79% of people said they would prefer to solve an issue that occurred while they were travelling by telephone or in person. That figure goes up to 90% for the 55-64s.
Our dependence on devices to resolve issues while we are travelling varies according to the nature of the problem, the survey shows. For problems with onward connections or missing baggage, 81% of people opt for face-to-face or telephone contact to resolve things. Perhaps due to the fact many airports have customer service desks at arrivals, missing baggage is the travel problem people are most likely to seek face-to-face help to solve.
The more time sensitive a problem is, the less likely it seems we are to trust technology, according to the research. For a missed flight, train, bus or ferry, 85% want to resolve the problem with a person, either face-to-face or on the phone.
David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK, India and South Africa, said: “As far as the battle between travel agents and technology when it comes to travel bookings is concerned, there is no competition. Across all segments of the population, the vast majority of people prefer to purchase their travel via an electronic device, with only 23% of people preferring to book face-to-face or on the phone. The group most likely to want to book with a person are the over 65s, but even in this group 57% take the technology route.
“However, when it comes to sorting out problems or making changes to bookings people are quick to ditch their devices. The swing to people power is most pronounced when the issues are time sensitive, such as missed journeys. In this situation 85% of people prefer to deal with a person.
“This clearly illustrates how important it is for travel companies to ensure they have a customer experience solution that addresses a variety of situations. A one size fits all solution isn’t good enough because our preferred method of engagement changes depending on what stage we are at in our journey.”