Nearly half of all consumers feel like they’ve overpaid for their recent vacation, said Audrey Hendley, president of American Express Travel, at the Skift Global Forum 2019. About one in five decided that travel planning was so complex, they ultimate gave up on taking a trip at all. But the most shocking stat she shared was this: “Forty percent of customers believe that finding their perfect travel experience is harder than finding their significant other,” she said to a hearty laugh from the crowd. “People are overwhelmed by what’s out there!”

In recent years, American Express Travel has worked to make travel planning easier, Hendley said, through strategic acquisitions of brands like Resy and an expansion of their network of Centurion Lounges in airports. Technology, too, is a critical tool for improving the sort of personalized and relevant offers that are reaching consumers, she said.

But with “social media is permeating our lives,” the next frontier for brands — within the travel sector and outside it — is in the inspiration phase of trips, Hendley said, before crediting companies like Away with stepping in to provide travel inspiration in new and interesting ways. “People have a paralysis of choice. There’s so much content out there, they don’t know what to do,” she added. For American Express Travel, the key is using technology to help provide a “personalization engine” that helps consumers pick the right trip for the right occasion and then book it with ease.

”For us it’s about the end-to-end experience for the customer,” Hendley said. From the inspiration stage to booking to the airport and at hotels, “it’s being there as much or as little as customers want us to be on their whole journey — right through to when they get home,” she added, “making sure it’s a deep, immersive experience.”

For the complete conversation, watch the full video of the session, The Consumer Experience Playbook: Making Moments Matter, held during the Skift Global Forum 2019.