2019 Guide to Purchase Drivers for Travel

Whether traveling by plane, train or cruise ship, there are purchase drivers specific to certain segments of consumers, and some that are common to all, by category! And AI-powered social listening provides crucial intel to guide these B2C efforts.

Get Me a Ticket for an Airplane

When considering travel and the consumers that typical travel campaigns target, demographics often point to two broad categories: leisure and business, with lots of subcategories fleshing out each. And for good reason – those travelers, in broad categories, are having lots of conversations about travel online, and expressing pretty intense emotion around it as well.

It tends toward the positive side, till it doesn’t, and either way it’s difficult to miss overall. As of this writing we see 11.7M travel posts in the last month alone, with likes far outweighing dislikes:

And you’ll find most of these travelers are flying – for at least a portion of the trip, particularly if it’s a vacation. They’ll be in transit to a destination or cruise and may decide to take a train ride back, as that is also an ‘experience’ (more on that next), but they’ll hop on a plane for some part of it.

Searching sentiment, we find attributes that apply across the board for those flying – safety being chief among them, particularly with the recent Boeing 737 crashes and resulting controversies around them.

So a focus on safety from any airline right now might seem to be not only smart, but necessary. The industry, as a whole, is averse to explicitly advertising safety, as a rule.

What’s an airline to do, considering?

Dig a little deeper into social analytics and find other important ways to affirm that commitment to safety – or at least ways to help them not worry so much about it as they’re flying:

But a large, often neglected segment, doesn’t land neatly in either category.

Some travel is for necessity – and for purposes that fall outside of the business travel realm. You’ll find families in transit to any number of family gatherings, from births and weddings to health emergencies and funerals. And even the happier occasions aren’t necessarily captured in the “leisure” group.

Providing guaranteed overhead space per traveler, or making extra allowances for those flying to stressful family functions – including mediation areas, can make one airline an appreciated go-to for these frazzled travelers. It’s a market no airline has yet to capture. And it may be why some opt for traveling by train.

Take the Last Train to Clarksville

Flights get travelers wherever they need to be with a quickness – or, at least much faster than a train, particularly when traveling a great distance (this is excluding commuter rail rides, of course).

Beyond beautiful scenery, they also offer passengers time to mentally prepare for wherever they’re headed.

Understanding the experience railway travelers are having, and what is meaningful to them and why is important, particularly when discovering new needs alongside them. Creating campaigns that speak to these unmet (and sometimes, not fully realized) desires demonstrates a level of understanding and care for consumers’ well being.

And in our experience-focused society, which also craves personally tailored options, the more discoveries like these that can be made and communicated to requisite audiences, the more these folks will love you – and share that unexpected joy online. Win-win!

But there’s no travel consumer group more enthusiastically leisure-driven than those who cruise.

Sailing Away on Vacation

Since 1980, average annual passenger growth has been roughly 7% per year – making the cruise industry “the fastest-growing category in the leisure travel market.” And these folks have lots to say about their experiences, which are overwhelmingly positive:

What incentivizes consumers toward purchases in this growing category? It depends. Overall, they want an all-inclusive, relaxing experience, with the more discerning among them seeking:

  • Reliable onboard connectivity
  • Spa, healthy menu and trendy fitness options, including an oxygen bar (yes, really)
  • Off-peak season travel, for consumers with increasingly digital (and flexible) schedules
  • Brag-worthy and/or meaningful excursions to take in port

And then there are segments to consider, depending on the sub-category being targeted for a particular cruise line, which can run from general public to luxury lines. And within those categories, you can find audiences to segment any variety of ways, including these less recognized options:

  • Generation Z, which will be the largest consumer generation by 2020
  • Female-centric or theme cruisers, who accompany friends from larger groups that they may only know from interacting online
  • Lifestyle travelers, which can be photojournalists, travel bloggers or nomadic families that document their travels
  • Solo travelers – that may be a subgroup of last bullet, or may be socially isolated folks seeking to meet new people.

But those segments are far from the only to consider, as families, couples and friend/relative groups still make up the largest cruising categories.

Making travel-centric marketing decisions requires an informed, targeted approach. One that stays on top of worldwide and regional trends to keep pace with what competitors are offering, while uncovering new segments – and their needs – ahead of the pack. Travel is exciting, and capturing that excitement is really all that’s needed to succeed. Social listening is the conduit allowing brands to harness it.

Want to see how travel industry leaders use social listening to succeed? Reach out for a demo!

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