Having seen the golden age of travel of the 1950s to 1970s develop into the age of mass travel from the late 1970s as more liberal agreements led to intense competition, fare-cutting, affordable ‘class’ options and the arrival of low-cost airlines, we are now entering the age of traveller power, according to Amadeus IT Group.
Albert Villadolid, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Distribution Commercial for the company, a leading technology partner for the global travel industry, said during a presentation at the Routes Asia Strategy Summit in Manila, Philippines, that as an industry, aviation and the travel sector has to adapt to meet the needs of today’s traveller. And to adapt, they need to better understand what drives their purchasing decisions by changing its thinking.
“We must move beyond traditional demographics such as age and gender which are becoming less indicative of purchasing behaviour, and look more to personality traits, values, attitudes, interests and lifestyles,” he said.
To better understand traveller behaviour, Amadeus commissioned the Future Traveller Tribes 2030 study, published last year, to identify what the travel landscape and travellers themselves will look in 10-15 years and how that will affect the way the travel industry will market and sell their products.
“Air travel has become accessible and affordable but, for most people, has meant cramped seats, bland meals, long security lines and busy, tired cabin crew,” said Villadolid. “However, millions of people are now able to fly affordably and in hours on journeys that had previously taken days or even weeks to complete.”
This was made possible through the widespread use of technology to enable the travel industry to cut costs – aircraft innovation, online bookings / check in, route scheduling, fares and ticketing etc, noted the executive, who highlighted that continued technological progress will bring further change.
What is certain is that the travel landscape will continue to evolve and the Amadeus outlook predicts there will be an extra one billion people in the world by 2030, with around one fifth of this number become travellers as the median age of the global population matures from 29.6 to 33.2 years.
The Asia Pacific region will be the growth leader in outbound travel spend over the next decade, overtaking Europe by 2023. By 2030, almost half (49 percent) of all passenger traffic globally will be within the region or between the region and the rest of the world, up from 37 percent today. As part of this China will surpass the USA as the world’s biggest economy.
According to Villadolid, Social media will approach saturation point, at 80-90 percent worldwide and online social capital will be readily quantifiable, while more choice about when we travel for work will produce increasing ‘bleisure’ experiences. Big Data will allow brands to personalise services more efficiently and imaginatively.
These factors will, according to the Future Traveller Tribes 2030 study lead to the creation of six Future Traveller Tribes: Simplicity Searchers, Reward Hunters, Social Capital Seekers, Cultural Purist, Ethical Traveller and Obligation Meeters.
Simplicity Searchers value above everything else transparency and seamless travel in their planning and holidaymaking, and are willing to outsource their decision-making to trusted parties.
“This tribe will be open to outsourcing all facets of their travel – anything for a simple and hassle-free holiday, even if it means paying a little bit more. On this note, we expect this tribe to be more open than some others to sharing personal data in exchange for added simplicity or convenience,” said Villadolid.
“This group are most likely to be attracted to packages of travel options that are constructed to make booking simple and are open, in the shopping phase, to additional services that will make their trip more seamless, for example transfers, day tours and so on. This tribe will reply on the expertise of a good travel agent to assist them with all aspects of planning and booking their trip,” he added.
Reward Hunters use travel as an opportunity for mental, physical and indeed spiritual enrichment, cordoning off space and time for essentially self-centered activities.
“This tribe is motivated by a sense of ‘reward’, purchasing travel as an indulgent experience to seek a ‘Return on the Investment’ made in their busy, high achieving lives. They are turned off by mass-market offers are likely to travel solo and place a premium on special experiences, that are a notch above the rest,” said Villadolid.
“This is the tribe the industry will covet in the future. Often with high levels of spend and preferring higher margin services it is imperative to continue to evolve premium products and services to retain the loyalty of this group,” he added.
Social Capital Seekers understand that to be well-travelled is an enviable personal quality and their choices are shaped by their desire to take maximal social reward from their travel.
“We expect this tribe to be most open to taking inspiration for travel from recommendations from their networks. They want to be seen as having the kinds of travel experiences that are ‘trending’ and are heavily influenced by social media channels and connections,” said Villadolid. “They are particularly partial to an experience that is new, rare or luxurious.”
Cultural Purists use travelling as an opportunity to immerse into an unfamiliar culture, looking to break themselves entirely from their home lives and engage with a different way of living.
“This tribe gather information and inspiration from a range of sources such as documentaries, books, blogs, You Tube and user-generated travel videos and are those travellers that seek to immerse themselves in local cultures with a desire for authentic experiences,” said Villadolid.
“These travellers are opposite to Simplicity Searchers in that they value impulsiveness and experimentation and are less open to pre-planning travel. But, travel agents that can provide local or first-hand knowledge and off the beaten track experiences will be in high demand for this tribe,” he added.
Ethical Travellers allow their conscience to be their guide when organising and undertaking their travel. They may make concessions to environmental concerns or let their political ideals shape their choices.
“This group’s behaviour is defined by an inherent wish to make ethical choices whether that is environmental or social. We could expect this tribe to avoid specific destinations based on political regimes or certain providers if they cannot offer a vision for Corporate Social Responsibility,” said Villadolid.
“This tribe are defined by the fact that their purchasing behaviours reflect their core ethical values and members of this tribe will already have a clear idea as to the destinations and activities they want to avoid. The detail they require when making decision means they will pre-book as much as they can, tailored to their ethical principles, before travelling,” he added.
Obligation Meeters have their travel choices restricted by the need to meet some bounded objective. Their behaviours are shaped by their need to be in a certain place, at a certain time, without fail.
“This group is defined by hard, time-bound objectives for travel such as family gatherings, religious pilgrimages and of course business travel. As a result this tribe is also keen to rely on third parties to help organise travel and want services to be offered up-front that will make their trip more efficient, for example priority boarding and onboard wifi,” said Villadolid.
“They are favourable to technology that can help to smooth their trip and Similar to Simplicity Searchers, Obligation Meeters are prepared to pay more to remove anxiety. This tribe is unique in that they seek a balance between freedom and restraint. They are also the only tribe not driven by a core value, but rather by objective and increasingly the business travellers within this this tribe will also look to ‘squeeze in’ leisure experiences,” he added.