By Fig Cakar, Managing Director – the Americas, SiteMinder
When we think about future potential customers it tends to be those coming from markets that are opening up – China, India, Latin America…
And, the way we think of these customers is in terms of what their preferences, travel patterns and behaviours are through the trip cycle and, crucially, how much they spend.
But, what if going forward, travellers identify themselves less and less in terms of where they were born, and increasingly liken themselves to other groups – or, tribes?
This is the picture built up by global distribution giant Amadeus in its recent report – Future Traveller Tribes 2030.
The premise is that as the economic, political, sociological and technological advances are made and impact our lives, consumer behaviour changes.
The six tribes of travellers who could shape the travel landscape
Amadeus’ study highlights six groups of travellers who will shape the travel landscape going forward and they’re not mutually exclusive:
1. Simplicity Searchers
Travellers seeking ease and transparency in travel planning and comfortable with letting third parties organise it all.
2. Cultural Purists
Travellers willing to immerse themselves in unfamiliar experiences and have a complete break from what they’re used to at home.
3. Social Capital Seekers
Consumers who want to share their travels and experiences because they view them as a part of who they are, a ‘personal quality’. As such, they exploit social media to inform their potential experiences and relate them to their audiences.
4. Reward Hunters
Travellers looking for a return on how hard they work through their travel experiences. It could be a physical or mental return and they are often looking to treat themselves to do something out of the ordinary or luxurious.
5. Obligation Meeters
This group of travellers is probably best depicted by business travellers who need to be in a certain place at a certain time but are increasingly also seeking experiences.
6. Ethical Travellers
This is the final tribe and they are visiting a place for environmental reasons or political beliefs and might seek particular brands and services for these motives.
The report goes into detail about the attitudes, values, lifestyles and characteristics of each tribe as well as provide the potential landscape in 15 years’ time with factors such as the economy, demographics, consumer behaviour and technology taken into account.
A number of themes emerge, some of which we’re beginning to see already, such as the need for search engines to help consumers wade through the masses amounts of digital information thrown at them.
This feeds into the concept of ‘perfect price discrimination’ where travel brands set prices analysing data from multiple sources including browsing, past purchase behaviour, IP location and social media influence.
And, when it comes to the technology landscape come 2030, the themes are multi-purpose devices, virtual assistance and the use of biometrics – many of which are already in use.
Then there’s the concept of the power of community, which we see today in user-generated content, but how this might be leveraged going forward as current review sites evolve into huge repositories of hotels, attractions, businesses, which could shape how destinations might be designed.
A second part of the study looks at airlines specifically but, there are lessons there for other travel suppliers which might better take care of travellers as we move forward.
Ensure you personalise for each type of traveller
Studies like Future Traveller Tribes 2030 are important in terms of getting us to think beyond attracting, reaching and converting guests to fill rooms today but how we might want to manage guests going forward. Already, hotels are recognising the potential for wearable technology like Google Glass and the Apple Watch to change travel in a huge way, with capabilities such as keyless entry.
Perhaps a room or a group of rooms will cater for a particular tribe based on its characteristics and qualities. Or, maybe it will be even more granular than that and a room will change every time a new guest checks in according to what we know about them and their preferences.
The main theme to come across is the idea of personalisation in a world of multiple sales channels to create a better experience for travellers throughout the journey from inspiration to booking, pre-stay, during their stay and post-stay.
There are many exciting marketing and sales cloud platforms available to hotels to offer personalised experiences and engage return guests – through customisable emails and surveys, for example, or promotional codes to encourage repeat bookings. Commission-free booking engines such as TheBookingButton are particularly important for this reason, as they drive down the cost of guest acquisition and allow hotels to spend those saved costs elsewhere, ideally in other direct channels.
And when it comes to tackling the very essence of a multi-channel world, it is crucial hotels invest in cloud-based online distribution platforms to ensure they attract each kind of traveller – with every type of personality, behaviour and budget.