If you do business in Europe, it’s important to keep up with the latest traveler motivations and preferences. The objective of this survey is to show what consumers expect of the travel industry and how it should evolve to cater the needs of future travelers. Consumer behavior and technology are evolving more rapidly than ever. Data-driven, intelligent mobile platforms and new entrants have changed the ways consumers want to access information and shop for everything, and also the way they manage their travel experience.

The transformation of the way consumers live and work has quite clearly included the way consumers travel. With cultures having different expectations of technology, the Envision series of events provides a deeper understanding of regional differences between travelers.  Previous instances include the UK and Germany, where we shared fresh looks into travelers in those regions. Now we’re taking a look at Italy, surveying travelers in that country about their motivations and preferences when it comes to personalized offers, the sharing economy, and virtual reality.

Some reluctance to share information

The majority of those surveyed were less interested in sharing personal data or other identifying information. In fact, a large chunk of travelers — 35 percent — were not keen on sharing any personal details whatsoever.

While this reluctance is shared across regions, there’s still a large group interested in personalization. About a fourth of respondents was interested in personalized offers in return for sharing personal information with airlines and hotels.

At its face, this might be discouraging to travel brands. But having a core group of travelers interested in personalized offers can actually prove quite valuable. It makes the task of starting in on personalized offers much easier while increasing the chances of success. Rather than be overwhelemed with how to segment, the process can start from a smaller subset of travelers.

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Geo-location is one simple way to segment. This is an ideal approach to engage the Italian traveler, as 38 percent of travelers are interested in location-based offers. This means that simple segmentation based on location is an effective approach to targeting offers to Italian travelers. This also ensures that the offer can be personalized in a most straightforward way rather than focusing on the more private traveler details.

How to personalize for the Italian traveler

In many cases across Europe, data privacy is of greater concern than in other Western countries. Given the Italian traveler’s reluctance to share too much information, it’s even more important for travel brands to adjust accordingly.

Suggesting the right offer to the right traveler via the right channel is the name of the game — and have more confidence in that “right offer, right traveler” proposition. Because that same mantra (right offer, right consumer, right time) applies to personalization in general. But when communicating with a skeptical consumer, accuracy and empathy should be upfront and center.

For a more detailed look, here’s how these travelers felt about how travel companies should personalize communications:

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Definitely err on the side of caution when it comes to addressing Italian travelers by name or using their past behavior to personalize communications. Perhaps offer a way for each traveler to customize how they want to be marketed to. This gives the traveler control and also builds trust with the community.

As far as communication style, 62 perecent preferred email while a nearly identical 32 to 35 percent preferred text message or through an app. Phone calls were preferred by only 15 percent of respondents. One noteworthy result was that 1 in 4 travelers actually wanted to deal face-to-face. This is the playing field for travel consultants to offer a personal, customized experience to the Italian traveler. Again, there is clearly a place for the traditional retail travel experience in Italy!

The sharing economy

According to this cohort of travelers, the sharing economy is not yet disrupting the industry by a large margin. For example, only 27% of respondents see hotels impacted by the sharing shift and only 22% see an impact automotive/ground transportation. This makes sense, as the Italian traveler is still discovering the sharing economy.

A sizable proportion of Italian travelers is interested in various segments of the sharing economy. It’s not quite a majority and is a smaller proportion than in other industrialized countries. It seems that traditional travel services maintain a solid base of loyalty among Italian travelers.

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Virtual reality makes inroads

The virtual reality world seems destined first for those areas with large populations of tech workers and gamers. And Italy might actually be one of those areas, as an impressive 78 percent of travelers see the technology becoming more prevalent in the travel industry.

As far as other industries that might benefit from VR, there seems to be a clear view that VR is for testing real-world products, services and experiences.

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While this research was only for Italy, we’ve also looked at personalization across the regions. The compilation of this separate research is a resource called “Personalization and the Regional Traveller.” Please let us know a bit about you so that we can learn and create even more helpful content in the future. There will be no ongoing emails from this, rest assured!