Moving Beyond Demographics
Travel suppliers today are looking at more than demographic factors to understand and target their customers. They’re considering travelers’ psychographic characteristics and behavioral preferences as well, because these speak to peoples’ lifestyle patterns, attitudes, and expectations that most certainly drive travel-buying decisions. And now, they’re helping to shape the way travel brands engage with their customers.
Looking at Travelers in a New Way
Targeting the “married Gen-X businessman living in the London metropolitan area” for instance, is a place for travel brand marketers to start, but it’s not often enough. It only scratches the surface. For effective marketing, decision-makers need to know how their ideal “married Gen-X businessman living in the London metropolitan area,” prospect thinks, what they value and even what they wear and where they shop. These are the details that help marketers deliver relevant messages that resonate and that bring in more bookings.
The concept of connecting consumers’ hospitality brand preferences to their general lifestyle patterns is demonstrated by PlaceIQ in their location intelligence study of travel preferences. Here’s a look at some highlights:
Differences between people who visit San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and New York’s JFK International Airport (JFK):
- SFO: They visit Golf Warehouse and golf courses, fly Hawaiian Air, shop at Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom, drive Toyotas and visit SEA Airport.
- JFK: They visit NBA arenas, shop at Pottery Barn and Barney’s, drive Hyundais, are loyal to T-Mobile and visit ATL Airport.
Characteristics of Best Western Hotels & Resorts visitors:
- Age: 65+
- Income: <$50K
- Also stay at: The Wyndham Grand o Visit: Golfer’s Warehouse and Golf Galaxy o Watch: American Idol • Characteristics of Westin
- Hotels & Resorts visitors: o Age: 35-44 o Income: >$200K
- Also stay at: Le Meridian and the W Hotel
- Visit: Adidas, Old Navy and Nordstrom
- Watch: 60 Minutes
Characteristics of jetBlue customers:
- Age: 18+
- Also fly out of: American and Virgin terminals
- Visit: Equinox and Jamba Juice
- Watch: The Goldbergs
Characteristics of American customers:
- Age: 65+
- Also fly out of: United and Delta terminals
- Visit: Potbelly and NBA arenas
- Watch: Marvel’s Agent Carter
These insights show that while demographics provide an important piece of the puzzle, they don’t tell the whole story. When travel brands know what their customers enjoy doing and where they enjoy going, they can build more relevant campaigns that speak more directly to the travelers they want to reach and inspire-to-action.
The Challenge for Travel Brands
With these things in mind, travel marketers can begin to rethink their assumptions and retool their strategies. They can take a deeper, more detailed dive into segmenting customer bases. For instance, they can transform an existing audience of “married Gen-X businessmen living in the London metropolitan area” to more targeted sub-audiences.
Using behavioral data from their customer base, they may find 3 new audiences for whom they can create special offers and reach with a nuanced communications strategy:
• The “tech-savvy” man who’s always connected and likely to take action on mobile offers
• The “eco-minded” man who is likely to choose more environmentally-friendly or “green” brands and amenities
• The “active” man who is likely to take advantage of couples’ adventure or outdoor excursion packages
The travel brand in this example doesn’t need to see their “married Gen-X businessmen living in the metro London area,” through a foggy lens. By uncovering more about him—and his travel behavior trends—brands can serve his needs on a more personal level, offering him the tools, products and services he is likely to enjoy.
From here, the travel brand can take a closer look at their products, services, booking tools and customer value propositions to ensure they’re aligned with their audiences’ true preferences. There are opportunities to get closer to customers, driving additional value and loyalty. And with the competitive nature of the travel market, brands need all the differentiation they can get.