MRS Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Conference 2/3

Tourism insights

As we saw at the MRS Healthy Living Conference in February, segmentation is vital to get ahead and this is especially relevant to different types of people who travel. When holiday shopping, groups such as empty-nesters, families and teenagers all have different drivers and barriers influencing their final decisions on destination, mode of transport and accommodation. They also vary from country to country, depending on the influence of culture, so in-depth research is a worthwhile investment to make the most of tourism. Below we take a look at how to action insights, as discussed at the MRS Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Conference and why we should consider security and ‘friendly people’ as drivers for travel purchases.

Safety, security and politics

Some insights we found particularly interesting were those surrounding the change in popularity of certain holiday destinations. It was revealed that consumers place high importance on security and safety when considering a holiday, even if it may not be something that’s done consciously. As a result, trips to places associated with recent conflicts and terror attacks such as Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia have seen a decline, with people also wary of visiting Paris.

There has also been a decline in visits to the USA, and although the ‘Trump Slump’ was mentioned, it seems to be more to do with Brexit’s effect on the value of the pound and subsequent decreased exchange rate. This theory was backed up by the finding that bookings to places not associated with terrorism have risen, especially those less affected by the exchange rates, such as Croatia.

People like people

Another interesting insight from the conference was that, aside from other common decision-making drivers, such as scenery & landscape, overall price and food & drink (which we talk more about in part 3/3), ‘friendly people’ also ranked as a high driver when planning different trips.

Whether planning city breaks, beach getaways, touring holidays or rural escapes, the friendliness of people was a strong factor when ranking destinations. However, tourism advertising often includes images of high-resolution scenery with few or no people in sight. As Jon Young, Research Director at BDRC Continental, said, “people like people” so perhaps this is something advertisers should bear in mind for the future.

Insights into action

When it comes to turning insights such as the above into actions, Toby Shaw, Director of Marketing for Celebrity Cruises, reminded us we have to simplify data to drive action and use our common sense with ‘big data’ and not to “try and boil the ocean”!

As you’d expect, he advised that it’s best to start with history and collate what you already know before setting your hypothesis and concentrating on what you really need to know to solve the most pressing business questions.

When it comes to presenting insights to clients, Kurt Stuhllemmer, Partner at Hall and Partners, recommended feeding back to clients throughout the project, “offering bite-sized insights along the way, not just waiting for the big ta-da at the end”!

As with all investments, the data insights gleaned from market research need to prove their reliance in order to gain buy-in from the board or c-suite. This is why the overwhelming advice from the day was to stay focused on one business need at a time and make sure the data makes sense so it’s actionable.

Keep the pace

In conclusion, the pace of tourism is fast. Whilst it’s important to have our fingers on the pulse of developments in technology and investigative journalism, it’s more important to know who your customers are and to know what their basic needs and motivations are.

Look out for our next blog post where we summarise our key highlights from the rest of the event, which includes the role emotion and technology are playing in tourism and hospitality research.


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