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Get to Know the Leisure Travel Trendsetters

Posted February 22, 2017


Who—and we mean this literally—is going to influence travel brands’ strategies over the next few years? While corporate decision-makers, travel bloggers and industry media have some clout, it’s the travel trendsetters—the customers—who will inspire business decisions ranging from pricing to technology offerings to marketing campaigns. Potential new customers live around the globe and represent a wide variation of ages, interests, and travel preferences, but we’re going to look specifically at the five market segments that are expected to drive the most change.

Pursuing a diverse marketplace isn’t as easy as breaking consumers into segments based on age, gender, or even income bracket. That’s the message from MMGY Global, who defined the modern traveler “microsegments” you’ll see below in their 2016-2017 Portrait of American Travelers report. We’ve added our thoughts on how to best approach these dynamic consumers with ideas for making the most of every opportunity to thrill them with satisfying travel experiences.

Brat PackThese are children 12 and under who influence their families’ travel decisions. Almost half of them, finds MMGY, have parents “at their mercy” when it comes to choosing destinations, picking activities and otherwise spending the family travel budget. So from airlines and hotels to destination cities’ tourism centers, travel brands targeting family business are well advised to appeal to the youngest family members.

As explored in How Travel Companies Are Gearing Up to Accommodate Generation Z, some best practices include catering to these consumers’ sense of immediacy (e.g. text messaging, quick calls-to-action), digitizing services and messaging, and inciting their sense of adventure and overall enthusiasm for the diversity in the world around them. Read more about making trips enjoyable for the youngest (to the oldest) travelers in It’s a Family Affair: Multigenerational Travel and Four Generations of Travelers Mean Four Kinds of Travel Marketing.

HENRYsTravelers who are High Earners, Not Rich Yet. They’re young and affluent, but haven’t accumulated the level of wealth that enables them to take a “no holes barred approach” to travel spending. That means it’s a good idea to take an “aspirational” approach with these consumers, making them feel like they’re on the way up in the world, toward a hifalutin lifestyle. They’re likely attracted to luxury brands and appreciate the frills and prestige associated with big names and top-drawer amenities—but they are at least somewhat price-sensitive, at least today. See Current Insights into Today’s Affluent Travelers for a look at the types of products and services that appeal to these consumers.

At this stage in their life journey, however, they may be attracted to travel packages and deals that have curb appeal—allowing them to experience a range of exotic destinations and cultures—or that otherwise treat them to personalized attention (think spas and wellness) and give them options to create their own unique vacation, without breaking their banks.

Jet Sweaters—These are the amateur adult athletes without children who travel to fulfill their own athletic pursuits. Visiting distant cities to run high-profile marathons or to participate in iron man competitions might be on their agenda. Or, perhaps, scaling mountains, swimming across large bodies of water, or biking across the country are more their speed. Tour packages that accentuate adventure and activity, even in the realm of voluntourism, may offer what they’re looking for. (Read Making a Difference on a Volunteer Vacation for more on the voluntourism trend.)

And since they’re traveling without kids, they may have the resources to splurge on accommodations offering the most comfort (e.g. first-class cabin seats, quiet hotel suites) or opportunities to rejuvenate (pools, spas, and the like). Then again, these folks may be of the more rustic sort, who prefer to camp their way across the landscape or stay in private homes to better immerse themselves in local culture. In either case, consider ways to Win Customers By Offering The Right Destination Choices.

GottaGoSOLOs—Predominately Millennials and Gen X-ers, these travelers are the ones who leave the family behind when traveling. That could mean leaving them behind entirely for some quality alone time, or taking some time on their own to explore their destinations while their travel companions sleep in or enjoy a room service dinner. Independence is surely at the heart of their intentions, and probably some degree of adventure.

The answer to Do Millennials Make The Most Attractive Customers For Travel Companies?, based on results from a WEX survey of UK Travelers, is “likely, yes” because they spend more and take more trips compared to other age groups. But we don’t want to make too many generational assumptions about this set of the market; rather, focus on what makes their travel preferences unique. And that’s pursuing their interests on their lonesome, whether they’re looking for a local video gaming café or golfing. For suppliers, that might mean offering one-seater deals amidst family-friendly options or arming the concierge with ideas for the family-of-one.

YAHTZEES—Young At Heart Travelers Zooming Everywhere Enthusiastically are active retirees who travel more than 3 times per year and plan to spend over $8,000 annually on traveling. As retirees, it’s safe to assume the bulk of these travelers are over the age of 65 and part of the Baby Boomer generation. But as with the GottaGoSOLOs, travel brands can focus on these consumers’ preferences, rather than their age; although their willingness to spend money while traveling is an important consideration.

In this case, it’s their active lifestyles that brands need to accommodate today. Providing options to customize itineraries is one way to go, another is making it easy for customers to maintain their workout schedules and healthy eating initiatives. Consumers in this microsegment might have an appetite for visiting multiple destinations within the same trip and making the most of each destination through cultural, entertainment, or dining activities. This makes international travel and cruise trips particularly enticing, especially if they’re on the traveler’s “bucket list.”

For more, take a look at the 3 Ways to Delight Boomer Travelers in 2017.


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