by Natalie Good
What moves someone to travel, to transform a trip from a dream to reality? Practical things like budget and vacation time are important, but factors that influence travel decisions are usually more intangible—especially for younger travelers.
Fighting FOMO & Fueling Cultural Curiosity
Much has been written about the importance that Millennials and Gen Zers place on experiences over objects and how much these groups are motivated by the fear of missing out (FOMO). In a survey conducted by London-based Culture Trip, 59% of 18-24 year olds said they’d travel to the same destinations their friends have to feel included. That percentage declines significantly for older demographic groups.
Younger travelers are motivated by more than FOMO. Their desire for experiences is also driven by what Culture Trip calls “cultural curiosity.” The Cultural Mindset study Culture Trip conducted is based on a survey of 10,500 UK & US consumers and 150 interviews. Digging into the role culture plays in travel decisions, the company found 53% of respondents have friends who live overseas and 78% have friends or family of diverse nationalities and ethnicities.
The researchers also identified four distinct groups of travelers. Those who are: culturally aware, culturally curious, culturally immersive or culturally fluid.
Seeking Reviews In The Right Places
The stories others tell about their travel can be powerful motivators too, and reviews are micro-stories that can persuade travelers to book or to steer clear. In an article for Forbes, Matt Bowman cites several sources that looked at the impact of customer reviews.
Bowman reports that increasing a Yelp rating by just one-star can cause a 5% to 9% revenue increase for restaurants while having more than three negative posts in a search can result in losing 59% of prospective customers. On the subject of trusting reviews, Bowman writes that a company needs at least 40 reviews before consumers will believe the overall rating, and nearly 50% of consumers will only look at reviews posted during the past two weeks.
Both TripAdvisor and OTA sites are overshadowed by Google in terms of reviews, writes Kevin May for Phocuswire.com. May explains that 60% of 18-28-year old travelers use Google (or a similar search engine) to access reviews. According to May, 83% believe reviews are a key step in shopping for and booking travel, and 40% say they read six to 10 reviews. SaleCycle analyzed 280 million online bookings for a Phocuswire.com piece and noted that seeing positive reviews makes it less likely travelers will abandon bookings.
Listening To Real-Life & Online Influencers
Someone thinking of taking a trip is probably going to check out online reviews. They’re even more likely to get input from people they trust--friends and family and maybe even travel bloggers and social media influencers. The 2019 Travel Trends Report developed by WEX and Mastercard found 50% of respondents rely on recommendations from family and friends. Peter Lozanov, CEO and co-founder of 15toGO, a social travel app, shares that nearly three-quarters of social media users would think about changing travel plans based on a friend’s negative opinion.
Another important influencer in travel is, well, influencers. The Trekksoft 2019 travel trends report points out opinions are mixed on the impact of influencers to tourism. Travel companies are allocating varying percentages of their marketing budget to influencers. Some are all in and others are proceeding more cautiously.
About one-third of consumers would “most likely” purchase products endorsed by ordinary bloggers, while only 3% are swayed by celebrity endorsements. Specific to travel, 92% of social media users acknowledge blogs impact their decisions.
A simple Instagram post by the right person or well-written reviews can drive a travel decision in ways no ad or rack card can. Younger travelers continue to search for authentic experiences that connect them with others, often of different cultures. And their ideas and inspiration are drawn from those they trust. It all comes back to people.