Trust in travel companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will directly influence the speed and significance of the industry’s recovery, according to new independent research commissioned by worldwide leader in travel retail, Travelport. The research, released today, also revealed the top four areas that carry the greatest influence over traveler trust in the Kingdom: data privacy, price transparency, COVID-19 health and safety measures, and information credibility.
The study of 11,000 travelers across 10 countries, including 1,000 in Saudi Arabia, was conducted by Edelman Data & Intelligence (DxI), the research and analytics arm of Edelman, which has studied trust for over 20 years through the Edelman Trust Barometer. It uncovered clear evidence that, in Saudi Arabia, trust directly influences traveler purchasing behavior. Due to COVID-19, for example, over half (51%) of travelers in the Kingdom said they prioritize trust over all other factors when choosing a travel supplier such as an airline.
Many travelers in Saudi Arabia also stated, when trust is in place, they will consider purchasing multiple travel-related items (51%), upgrading their package (48%) and even buying non-travel-related items such as credit cards (46%) – the second highest statistics by country recorded in the study.
“The travel industry in Saudi Arabia has a golden opportunity to come out of COVID-19 strongly”, said Ifteqar Khan, Country Manager for Travelport in Saudi Arabia. “The majority of travelers in the Kingdom trust the travel industry so, by focusing on the most important issues for them, we can leverage this position of strength and accelerate industry recovery.”
The Four Key Trust-Building Areas
According to the results of the study, the area with the greatest influence over traveler trust in Saudi Arabia is data privacy (41%)1. Two in five travelers (42%), however, rated current performance by travel companies in this area as poor – signaling a need for industry improvement. In addition, just half (48%) reported that they currently trust travel companies to use their personal information in the right way.
When it comes to using information to personalize experiences, travelers in Saudi Arabia said they are most comfortable with companies using information they have entered in their profile or loyalty account (51%). They are less comfortable, however, when information is sourced indirectly, for example, through external data sources and public records such as credit scores (45%).
The second most important trust-building area for travelers in Saudi Arabia was shown to be having ‘no hidden costs’ (40%)1. Once again, the results showed there is room for improvement in this regard, with just half (49%) of travelers rating industry performance as good.
“The importance of price transparency can’t be overstated”, continued Khan. “To put it into context, having no hidden costs is a full 9% more influential on trust than an airline’s long-term safety record in Saudi Arabia. The request from consumers here is clear; the time has come to eliminate hidden fees and improve the overall transparency of pricing and communication.”
COVID-19 Health & Safety
While the majority (64%) of travelers in Saudi Arabia said the travel industry has done well in implementing COVID-19 health and safety measures, going forward, around half said they would like more reassurance on how robustly some measures, such as plexi-glass at check-in, managed boarding and queuing, and improved air filtration, are being enforced2.
Khan added: “The travel industry should be proud of how quickly and effectively it responded to COVID-19. What we learned from the study, however, is that travel companies will benefit from being clearer in their communication on certain measures, like improved air filtration.”
The sources of travel-related information3 that are most trusted by travelers in Saudi Arabia are friends and family (63%), price comparison sites (53%) and review sites (51%). In contrast, the least trusted are those with a clear vested interest in selling, such as social media influencers (44%) and celebrities (37%). When it comes to trust in different types of travel-related information4, customer ratings (57%) were shown to be the most trusted while third-party certification (46%) was revealed to be the least trusted.
Khan concluded, “Trusted companies make better retailers. When trust is combined with cutting-edge technology and effective sales, it becomes a powerful proposition. At Travelport, we will continue to invest in each of these areas in a bid to not only help the industry rebound from the pandemic, but come out the other side more agile and stronger.”
For additional trust in travel insights from Travelport, please visit travelport.com/trust.