We all know good news travels far and wide. A memorable experience creates a ripple effect, fueling the imagination and fascination of potential customers everywhere. This leads us to question: in the hotel industry, where word-of-mouth plays a decisive role, how adept are hotels in creating positive, memorable experiences?
GLOBAL TRAVELER INFLUENCES AND BEYOND
Today’s travel industry and digital technologies make exploring the world both easy and hard. With a few clicks one can find out about a destination and sort travel arrangements. Yet, with so many travel destinations and ideas to consider, the same few clicks can cause information overload and become a very daunting task. Travellers are constantly bombarded by travel news and attractions as various brands in the travel industry strive to gain their attention. So, how do travellers’ decide? What influences them? Who is setting the pace and laying the path for future travels?
Trendsetters are globetrotters and passionate about travel, willing to sacrifice spending in other areas to gain the travel experiences they crave. They are open-minded and spontaneous in their trip planning, taking advantage of any travel opportunities that come their way.
In a continuation of the travel-themed articles that Engine has recently published, this latest edition explores people’s travel motivations and influences, with a particular focus on ‘trendsetters’, as a way of looking into future trends. These trendsetters have an experimental mindset and early adopters, always in discovery mode, influencing people in their community and creating a ripple effect of change. Hence, to explore their journey and behaviour is to ‘crystal-ball’ into the future of more mainstream travellers’ needs and ‘bucket-list’ desires.
Trendsetters are frequent globetrotters, both for business and leisure, with 35% of them travelling 5 times or more, and 26% of them travelling mostly for business, in the last 12 months. Indeed a recent Cassandra macrotrend “Where There’s A Will, There’s Away” has found that travel is a passion for younger trendsetters, adjusting other areas of their lives in order to have money and/ or time to travel. They’re not only cutting back in other categories to cobble together disposable income to finance trips, but they’re also taking on things that make travel more attainable, such as choosing a job that enables them to travel for work or have the flexibility to frequently travel for pleasure.
Trendsetters are forever expanding their global footprint, visiting more places, more frequently and, in doing so, gaining exposure to different and exciting experiences. As a result, the trendsetter is seen as the go-to person when others are seeking travel advice and inspiration and are therefore highly influential in the final trip choices that their friends and colleagues make.
The implications go far and wide beyond travel. For instance, from a talent retention point of view, employers will need to start looking at creative ways to accommodate the need to travel and explore (e.g. unlimited vacation days, sabbaticals and home / mobile office).
Likewise, brands across all industries need to show that they too value and embrace people’s passion for travel, whether by offering curated travel recommendations related to the brand’s lifestyle or leading travel explorations that align with their brand.
Through such approaches, employees/ consumers will then resonate more strongly with a company/brand that shares their passion for travel.
When it comes to planning their trip, trendsetters are open-minded and spontaneous, with more than half preferring to plan their trip just 2-4 weeks before they travel. They are much more likely to track travel prices to find deals and take advantage of opportunities that come their way, whether that be jumping on a last minute deal or saying yes when a friend suggests they come along on a trip.
Travel recommendations from friends is THE key influencer for non-trendsetters; conversely trendsetters prefer to spread their independent wings further, when seeking inspiration and use travel agents both to get the latest trends and to outsource the burden that comes with booking an impressive trip.
In terms of what influences non-trendsetters when planning their trip, recommendations from friends is, by far, the most influential and particularly for females (46%).
This is not the case with trendsetters. While their friends seek out their insightful advice and recommendations gleaned from their numerous globe-trotting trips. Trendsetters are largely independent, instead drawing inspiration further afield, digitally, with travel agents and outside their social groups, hungry for new ideas in their search for that unique trip experience. Trendsetters are also looking to outsource the burden that comes with planning an impressive trip and hence are more likely to use a travel agent to ensure the ultimate personalized experience.
Blogger recommendations are highly influential for 1-in-6 Hong Kong & Singaporean travellers, but barely make a ripple among Australians, who are more likely to seek out advice from a travel agent. 1-in-3 Hong Kong travelers are seduced and inspired by travel programs.
When it comes to making the final decision on travel destination, while online blogs are a key influence for 1-in-6 in Hong Kong and Singapore (particularly among the under 35’s, where 1-in-4 are highly influenced), they have a minimal part to play among Australians, where a human recommendation from a travel agent/website and communication from their airline loyalty programme carry far greater weight.
Travel programs also have a significant influence among 1-in-3 Hong Kong travellers, suggesting that brands could feasibly predict up and coming holiday destinations based on popular current travel programs being aired and viewed.
Rest and relaxation are certainly not on the trendsetter’s bucketlist for the perfect trip. Rather they seek out wow factors, a journey of discovery that will ‘qualify’ for social media bragging rights and highlights their quest for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
When it comes to what trendsetters want to get out of their ideal trip, it is certainly not about escaping from the world, nor is it about rest and relaxation. Instead they are seeking out the wow factor, a journey of discovery that goes beyond the local cuisine on offer. Their experiences need to be unique, experiential and exclusive, in part motivated by their desire for enviable ‘bragging rights’ via their Social Media feeds.
But it goes much deeper than simply a desire to ‘show off’. It’s about these trendsetters using their Social Media as a way of cherishing and re-living those intrepid travel moments, as well as their desire to give back through sharing helpful tips.
Iconic sight-seeing (especially among the over 35’s) and tasting the local cuisine (under 35’s) are the 2 ideal activities that travelers actively seek out, particularly among Hong Kong and Singaporean travellers. Shopping for many Hong Kong and Singaporean travellers (especially among females) is also a must during any holiday, while for Australian travellers, the ability to re-charge their batteries and relax (and even better if it’s in luxury) are relatively more important must-haves for any holiday.
Singaporeans are the most likely group to be seeking to impress on Social Media (especially among the under 35’s), while Australians are the least likely to share their adventures online.
Conversely, the idea of a resort style holiday does not resonate strongly with most travellers, particularly Hong Kong (4%) and Singapore (10%) travellers.
Different motivations across different segments, age groups, life stage, and markets, reinforces the need for brands to ensure that messages are tailored and localized, in order to resonate strongly and drive maximum buzz with their target traveller. To do this, brands will need to look at how they can connect with today’s and tomorrow’s travellers. Once these insights are collected, brands can then create these more personalized and targeted messages that will drive the travellers’ attention.
Engine uncovers and connects the beliefs and behaviour of your most valuable prospects, to enable business outcomes via Engine Connect.
ENGINE APAC’s Life Checks tool has received a prestigious Good Design Award Winner Accolade in the Service Design category in recognition for outstanding design and innovation. Life Checks is a joint initiative of the Australian Government, led by the Department of Health, with Treasury, Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Department of Social Services, Department of Education and Training, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.