Special interests and passions are driving travel decisions more and more, from themed weeks at hotels and cruise ships and tour operator offerings to learning vacations and now, hotel brands. Drivers in travel buying decisions are increasingly about psychographics – behavior rather than demographic determinants.
Let’s take a look first at the traditional “big four” of demographics: gender, age, geography and income and their influence today:
- Gender lines continue to blur with women taking on more of the traditional role of men and vice versa, and the advent of same sex marriage.
- Age is also less important. Whether it’s the “coveted” 18-34 males or moms from 25-44, this is an outdated way to target for many reasons. First, people are age shifting and not living lives based on their chronological age. Second, the top end of a demographic (34) has almost nothing in common with the low end (18). Also, age demos leave out influencers and others for whom a message may be relevant. Finally, focusing on age can take you away from emotional or other relevant benefits.
- Then we have geography. In this global, highly mobile world, people often spend their lives in multiple cities.
- Of the four determinants, the only one that is still very important is income, especially at the two ends of the spectrum: budget and high end. Price will trump passion if you’re on a budget and at the high-end, travelers are reluctant to compromise their comforts and service.
However, these traditional measurements don’t tell you “why they buy”- why consumers would choose one brand over another. Psychographics, or lifestyle and behavioral information are playing a larger role in hotel branding, which was my topic as a panelist for the Urban Land Institute, Southeast Florida/Caribbean chapter, last month. What are some of these options and new directions for the hospitality and cruise industries? Check out the answer in Part 2 tomorrow.
By Karen Weiner Escalera, President & Chief Strategist