The 5 hidden payment behaviors of travelers

The 5 hidden payment behaviors of travelers

For product managers considering best practices for payments, consumer preferences are the bellwether. By understanding the habits of travelers, products can more effectively use payments as a lever for conversion and differentiation.

Here are five hidden behaviors of travelers that should influence how your product integrates payments.

1. Splitting costs with others

As a cohort, millennials are more likely to split costs with others. This group was the first Internet generation, so there’s a natural tendency to use mobile phones for payments. This has led to an expectation for flexibility when it comes to payment options.

Our survey of 1,000 consumers found that 33% of millennials (in the light blue, below) have split costs on at least half of their leisure trips. This compares to a quarter of non-millennial respondents.

Pay By Group Travel Study figure 1
Data from Pay By Group survey of 1,000 consumers.

For its part, Gen Z is also “more likely than older consumer segments to use payment technology that allows them to share or split purchases with friends,” per analysis.

This “mobile-first” cohort hasn’t known a time in which they couldn’t easily move money among friends. Accenture’s recent 2017 North America Consumer Payments survey found that 68% of Gen Z consumers are interested in instant person-to-person payments— more than any other age group.

2. Payments as a make-or-break feature

Recent research from WEX shows that payment options continue to be an important factor for travelers when choosing where to book.

This means that a lack of expected payment methods can push a consumer away from a particular platform – a forced error that underscores why products must match consumer expectations of payment types.

WEX Travel Study figure 1
Data from ‘WEX’s 2018 Travel Trends, Attitudes, and Usage’ linked above.

Our consumer survey backs this up: Compared with other groups, 64% of millennials would choose one site over another based solely on offering bookings whose cost can be split. A diverse array of payment options when booking is a clear competitive advantage.

Pay By Group Travel Study figure 2
Data from Pay By Group survey of 1,000 consumers.

3. Transactions as social media

Travelers are keen to share what they’re doing, and with whom. Within the frame of peer-to-peer payments, transaction data has become a new type of social media.

Rather than posting a photo with friends, the user posts a transaction to the Venmo feed. These socialized transactions increase the acceptance and regularity of splitting payments with friends in a group setting. It’s not only cool to split costs, it’s expected.

In fact, this generation has come to expect easy payments between friends: 69% of shoppers across 13 countries want to be able to transact on social media. Without an option to pay friends within existing platforms, shoppers will lean on third-parties to facilitate these transactions.

4. Boost transaction size

When it comes to business, money matters. Our research showed that a sizable minority of consumers would spend at least 20% more on a given booking if offered a way to split the total cost.

Pay By Group Travel Study figure 3
Data from Pay By Group survey of 1,000 consumers.

Another key piece of boosting transaction size is providing a place to purchase all aspects of the trip. When hotel, flight, and ground transportation are bookable in one place, there’s a natural trend towards larger transactions size. Coupled with the proclivity to spend more when cost can be split, it’s recommended to offer split payments alongside an end-to-end travel booking platform.

Expedia Travel Study infographic
Data from Expedia’s 2017 Generations on the Move report (

5. Group travel on the rise

The most important behavior that sits above all the rest is the simple growth in group travel. The concept of “social traveling” mirrors age, with younger demographics being more interested in group travel.

WEX Travel Study figure 2
Data from ‘WEX’s 2018 Travel Trends, Attitudes, and Usage’.

As younger travelers look and book in groups, payments options should reflect their unique preferences. A travel product that appeals to younger travelers must feature the ability to split payments among friends, integration with social networks to share their transactions with friends, and the ability to book multiple aspects of a given trip in one place. While this generation is still on the rise, now is the time to evolve product plans to include these features.

When crafting products around these five hidden payment behaviors, keep one thing in mind: the user experience. As Accenture reminds readers, “As the payments universe expands, customer experience is becoming the prime competitive differentiator.”

The full infographic from our consumer survey is below.

Pay By Group Travel Study infographic

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