‘Masters of prediction’, Foresight Factory are a consumer trends data company who identify critical trends and disruptors across a range of sectors and markets. Combining data-science, they provide personalised intelligence tools in order to stay ahead and ensure their customers are future-ready.
We caught up with Clodagh Brennan to talk about the changing face of travel and the emergence of the millennial traveller.
What customer profiles are we seeing within the travel industry?
Profiles that are experiencing interest right now are the Leisure Learners and the Performative Travellers. 74% of international travellers say that entertainment should be about learning new things as much as simply having fun and we are seeing loads of innovation in this space that builds a holiday community around learning an activity.
The importance of the ‘perfect selfie’ is also of upmost importance to the Performative Traveller and around two thirds of consumers say that it is important to them that people comment on the holiday photos they post on social media. The status gained from posting impressive holiday snaps has not diminished.
Meat and dairy are coming under fire from consumers, and Healthy Holidaymakers are taking exacting food requirements with them on holiday. Some are even expecting to keep up their weekly fitness regimes while abroad.
Are there any customer profiles that are emerging?
One profile that we explored as part the Millennial Traveller Report for Expedia is the Dissatisfied Millennial Parent. In 2018, the oldest millennials will be 36 years old and some are well into the family life stage. 37% of millennial parents claim that having children has had a negative impact on the quality of their holidays which is much higher than older parents.
What kind of interests do they have?
In general, millennials are much more interested in adventure on holiday which is why having children can impact their holiday expectations so negatively – particularly as some of this angst is due to the fact that millennials are more likely to have young children. Millennial parents in the US feel the pain particularly strongly.
We also find that when millennials have a family their reason for choosing a holiday moves towards having time to bond rather than seeking adventure. They are more interested in domestic trips than other millennials due to the practicalities of bringing young children on flights and the possibility that it will keep costs down as they are more likely to budget.
What are their requirements as a guest, whether in a hotel or serviced apartment?
For millennial parents specifically, hotels and apartments can cater to the needs of the whole family to enable them to bond and spend more time together, but also have moments where the family can engage in more adventurous and typically millennial pursuits.
There are also some demographic requirements. Younger consumers are more comfortable with automation and over two thirds of millennials claim to be interested in features that could automatically adjust room controls based on biometric markers like body temperature.
What do hotels need to keep in mind when catering to each traveller?
Personalisation has been a big differentiator for luxury hoteliers – but with access to personal consumer data and more intelligent ways of utilising it – some mid-range and even budget hotels are using data to tailor their offering.
The more a hotel can find out about a guests customer profile before arrival the better, but passive data collection also gives hotels insight into the patterns of their guests and presents new opportunities to enhance their stay.
Passive data collection could be collected through the booking process or loyalty programmes, but increasingly it will be built into connected devices. This enables hyper-personalisation, for instance, where a hotel could track which guests slept badly through noise levels or if lights were switched on and then offer the guest something to improve their stay – even if it’s just a set of earplugs to block out the snoring of their travel partner!
How can a hotel cater to millennials, Gen X and baby boomers?
Demographic groups are so broad that hotels should target subgroups within them or concentrate on motivational drivers to build a cross generational appeal.
Millennial travellers are, however, the demographic that differs most radically from previous generations because they have grown up in an era of affordable access to international travel and heavy reliance on technology and the internet. They are the most likely to adopt new behaviours and expect hotels to follow. For instance, 56% of millennials use messaging services on a regular basis to speak to a customer service assistant, which shows an obvious appeal for instant messaging concierge in hotels.
Our research has broken this down further to show usage rises significantly among millennials who take risks and have high savings – making a chat concierge highly relevant for hotels that target money-savvy millennials. Among boomers, usage of chat customer service is low and these customers will feel more comfortable talking directly to the front desk.
What does the future of travel look like?
As Gen Z start to travel independently, the travel industry will adapt to the next generation of trend setters. Travel marketing will also be forced to become more visual and based in video to capture attention. Over half of Gen Z prefer more visual social networks like YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram.
From our Gen Z research in the UK, we also think there will be increased pressure for hotels and travel bodies to focus on responsible tourism as four-fifths of Gen Z think that companies should make the world a better place. We have even seen hotel groups like Eaton propose the idea of creating hotels with a view to bringing political activists together in one space.
Much of this aspirational idealism will be sidelined as this generation start to make purchases themselves and the necessity of cost and convenience becomes a reality, but the next generation promises to look more kindly on operators that have a genuine commitment to addressing the popular issues of the day such as diversity, sustainability and harassment.
How important is hotel decor to these customers?
Social media is such an important discovery tool for young travellers that highly Instagrammable attractions have become popular based on their aesthetic credentials. This is a trend that has been particularly important for food and restaurants and the popularity of photographable food trends from unicorn-inspired food to Taiyaki fish-shaped ice cream cones have spawned fads in restaurant design.
Think ‘millennial pink’ interiors such as those we see in popular London cafe Palm Vaults, romantic indoor planting such as Closs Maggiore or impressively tiled floors like those at Media Noche. Hotels can capitalise on the same visual cues in their interior and exterior design.
What are the biggest trends that will impact the travel industry over the coming years?
The broad consumer appetite to have experiences that feel unique and feel connected to a destination is unlikely to diminish. We anticipate that hospitality will have a renewed focus on place, even in major branded hotels.
There will be a major effort to integrate hotels better in the local community so that guests feel a connection to a destination before they have even left the hotel.
Naturally, experiences only feel unique if they are not teeming with other tourists. In the luxury sector, the appeal of exclusivity will drive demand for private viewings and tours of popular places – whatever the cost.
Other consumers may avoid destinations afflicted by overtourism and choose secondary cities, less popular neighbourhoods or niche destinations to avoid the masses, which often come at a lower cost too.
On the other hand, some consumers may be driven by an anxiety to see a destination before it becomes too mainstream and loses its authentic edge – Cuba and Croatia come to mind, one popularised by political change and the other by Game of Thrones.
Elsewhere other destinations are threatened by climate change. If you want to see the colours of the Great Barrier Reef, you may need to act quickly as the vast majority has been bleached by warm sea temperatures. Furthermore, waterfronts and beaches in cities like Miami and Rio are subject to rising sea levels whilst dramatic images of glaciers could be a thing of the past.
Hyper-personalisation driven by big data is one of the biggest tech-driven trends promising to disrupt the industry in the future; however another strong contender is blockchain technology.
Payments made in a cryptocurrency could reduce transaction fees and make distribution cheaper so that consumers and suppliers do not have to work between multiple currencies. The recent blockchain bubble has peaked consumer interest in cryptocurrency, making eventual adoption into the travel sector more likely.
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