Tech assist makes holiday travel merry and bright

It’s that time of year again, when holiday festivities are incomplete without… travel. That’s true for almost half of all consumers (47%), in keeping with the last couple of years.

Before the 2021 holiday season, roughly a third of consumers took holiday trips. In 2021, holiday travel bumped up to around half the population; it has been holding steady ever since.

This year, continuing their summer travel spree, consumers are primed for holiday travel, despite lingering concerns about rising travel costs and the snarl of highways and airports.

Where they’ll go and how they’ll get there

The majority of travelers (71%) range from 17 to 44 years of age. And their overall holiday budgets are higher than the average consumer’s ($2,562 vs $1,530).

With the majority of travelers staying in state for holiday trips, automobiles are the mode of choice. Meanwhile, 46% will also board flights for out-of-state (45%) or international (8%) travel.

Approximately half our holiday travelers will use online booking sites, while a third will go directly to the travel provider. Branded hotels and family or friends are top choices for where they’ll stay.

Where will travelers stay this holiday?

Branded hotel
Family or friends
Independent hotel
Short-term rental
All-inclusive facility

Note: Top 5 choices from a list of 9 options
Source: PwC Holiday Outlook 2023
Q: What type of accommodation are you likely to stay in this holiday season?
Base: 1,884 holiday travelers

A virtual assistant for every traveler?

Tech-savvy consumers — typically men between the ages of 17-40 — plan to use AI (65%), extended reality (48%) and the metaverse (44%) for holiday shopping and travel this year.

They welcome emerging tech to interact with customer service (57%), for gift recommendations (52%) and to buy products they’ve browsed or tested via metaverse platforms (39%). More than a third (36%) prefer mobile payment.

For now, emtech is largely the domain of an early-adopting vanguard. However, almost 40% of consumers told us they either don’t know enough about these options or would consider using them in the future — a group primed to learn more.

Tech-savvy travelers are open to AI for these services

Recommending places to stay
Conversational AI interacting with me when entering or browsing a website
Recommending reviews (of a location, hotel, restaurant, etc.)
Pop-up alerts or reminders to help complete parts of the booking process
Deleting or removing negative reviews (of a location, hotel restaurant, etc.)

Source: PwC Holiday Outlook 2023
Q: How comfortable would you be with AI doing the following when booking holiday travel? (Those responding somewhat comfortable and very comfortable.)
Base: 718 holiday travelers who use emerging technologies

Loyalty in the making

As wanderlust endures, brands have an opportunity to re-engage returning customers and woo new ones with can’t-turn-down offers. How can you lock in loyalty?

  • Customer experience
    For hospitality more than other sectors, customer loyalty is rooted in experience. Build a resilient, consistent, intuitive customer experience to help secure your customer base.
  • Rewards programs
    With 58% of travelers planning to redeem rewards for travel this holiday, the evidence is in: Structure loyalty programs to provide consumers with the deals, personalization and convenience they crave.

For brands seeking to drive customer loyalty, the holiday season brings good tidings.

Contact us

Jonathan  Kletzel

Jonathan Kletzel

Principal, Transportation and Logistics Leader, PwC US

Barbra Bukovac

Barbra Bukovac

Vice Chair, Consumer Markets, PwC US

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