Written by: Paula Ortiz
One of the biggest challenges in the tourism sector is to be able to offer products tailored to customer needs. And the world is changing faster due to the impact of technology on our lives. Tourism consumers are changing their preferences to the same rhythm. Your agency must be aware of the most important trends among your target audience in order to keep up with the dynamic pace of tourism. Especially for your company to know how to apply the new trends in your marketing strategy.
7. Interest in local culture and tradition
Thanks to the possibilities offered by the internet to tourism consumers, they feel more free to look for information. The traveller is becoming more informed, more empowered, and able to organize their trip independently. Although there are still customers who rely on travel agencies to organize their entire holiday, the number of customers who prefer to contact the agencies once they have decided to choose one or more products is increasing.
On many occasions agencies have been forced to compete in the market through prices. However, this consumer does not exactly seek to analyse tourism products by their prices. This traveller will study the tourism options which best suit their needs, their interests. Such is the change in their attitude in decision making that travellers will not mind paying more for the product if they are sure this product will bring them the value they ask for.
The consumer demand definitely highlights the evolution that has taken place in the last years. After decades of tourism focused on the summer season, travellers are looking for authenticity. They are looking for different destinations, such as areas away from the big tourist areas, and for products that allow them to live unique experiences, connected to the authenticity of those different places.
Basically, both the destination to visit, and the activities that the traveller can perform there, are the two key factors of the purchase decision. That is why part of the client's research includes the analysis of the opinions of experts in tourism as well as other travellers who have shared their experience on the internet.
In a world more aware of sustainability issues, the traveller is increasingly being involved in seeking options that reduce the negative impact on the environment.
Europe’s major tourist destinations, although they use their resources to keep clean their cities and environment, are now noticing the consequences of tourism overcrowding. That’s what the travel consumer feels too. While mass tourism is still popular, travel agencies who want to reach a more demanding traveller must consider the impact of their products on the destination.
That's why the most demanding tourism consumer seeks to move away from the big tourist areas, looking for destinations close to these which are less crowded. Or they choose to stay in big cities with the option of visiting local points where there is no saturation of tourists.
This means the traveller feels more responsible for its impact. They will be interested in finding tourism products that take into account values as important today as sustainability, respect for the environment, safety, and even equality. The demanding traveller wants to be respectful of the destination’s environment and the local population, and to be able to enjoy his or her journey without feeling worried about circumstances or threats that endanger his or her well-being or the others'.
Perhaps, this is why tourism focused on rural experiences, connected with nature, is becoming a trend. They do not only want to visit natural environments that have not suffered the urban impact, they also take it as a way to disconnect from daily routine, to enjoy a few days without stress.
Other of the trends in travellers is their searching for experiences which can transform them, that could help them in their personal growth. Although one of the most outstanding aspects is the need to disconnect from the daily routine, the traveller now sees their holidays as a way of living experiences that help them to meditate, to learn, to grow as an individual.
This is why there are travellers who opt for tourism products that include activities to seek disconnection or relax. For example, practicing yoga or meditation. It is true that these practices are very common throughout the world. But by applying these activities in a different environment, travellers see them as methods that help them connect with the identity of the destination they visit while taking care of themselves. There are other travellers who choose to take courses at the destination, or even volunteer activities.
Travellers who need new experiences might look for almost non-explored destinations by international tourism. There is a very few undiscovered corners on our planet, but there are travellers who want to become ‘adventurers‘ by doing activities in distant places.
On the other hand, there are travellers who repeat visits to already known destinations. They live this transformation looking for experiences that have not yet lived in that place. This is more common on short trips, such as weekend trips.
People who travel as a couple or in a group essentially seek to strengthen their ties. For example, it is more common for couples to look for tourism products where they can be more active. The sensation of adventure, fun and adrenaline, brings them not only personal entertainment, but also experiences to share and that might help them to strengthen their relationship.
On the other hand, thanks to the ‘empowerment‘ of the traveller, more tourism consumers are opting to travel alone. This allows greater freedom to choose destination, accommodation, dates, but above all freedom to choose the tourist product best suited to itself.
Today the world’s favourite tourist audience are the so-called ‘Millennials‘. These were born approximately between 1981 and 1995, in a time when technology began to form an important part of the civilization. Indeed, they are the first generation to experience the 'technological boom', they are the ones who know best how to use the internet to plan their trips. And the ones the DMCs want so badly to attract.
23% of international travellers are people being 15 - 29 years old. (World Tourism Organization, 2016). This percentage will continue increasing: it is expected that by 2025 ’Millennials’ will become 50% of international travellers (Tourism Megatrends 10 things you need to know about the future of Tourism, 2016). This is not only due to pleasure trips, but also to the fact that many Millennials are entering the field of business travel.
In the case of the ‘Baby boom‘ generation (born between 1946 and 1965), they belong to an older age group, which means that not many share the same information-seeking trends as the ‘Millennials‘. This group does tend to continue to rely on travel agencies to organize their entire holiday.
However, they do share certain interests with the Millennials. For example, personal growth, balance, and enjoying their freedom. That is why these consumers are attracted by those tourist products that make them recover that youth spirit and inspiration. (Euromonitor International, 2019)
So far, you can imagine the latest technologies have had a great impact on the tourism sector. Especially in the phase prior to the purchase process. However, once it is time to pick up the luggage and leave home, there are two types of attitudes that are standing out in the tourism sector.
One trend is to go on holiday, but to stay connected to the world through smartphones. The phenomenon of being afraid to miss what happens on social networks now has the name of ‘Fear of Missing Out‘ (FOMO). This is why many companies take advantage of this trend to continue maintaining contact with their customers through their social networks.
At the opposite, there are those travellers who use their holidays to disconnect from the stress of the virtual world. These costumers - ‘Joy of Missing Out’ (JOMO) - disconnect from their smartphones to enjoy their free time, and above all their privacy. In such a technological world in which we live, more travellers are looking for JOMO experiences. (Euromonitor International, 2019)
For this reason, the companies are also relying on experiences specially prepared for this digital switch-off. These experiences specially include a greater interaction of the company’s staff with the customers, to offer a more human connection.
Because of travellers’ interest in connecting more with the destination they visit, they prefer to do other different activities. Instead of seeking experiences focused on the large masses of tourists, the most demanding travellers prefer to live authentic and local experiences. From cultural visits where you can learn about the history and traditions of the place, to gastronomic routes to taste local products.
There are DMCs agencies that are detecting these trends among their clients, which is a great opportunity to create personalized experiences. This allows companies to define products fully tailored to customer needs. And above all, taking into account these latest customer preferences.
If you have detected any of these new interests among your target audience, it may be a good time to take another look at your types of customers and rethink your marketing strategies to attract them considering these new consumer trends.