More and more people are ‘cash-rich’ and ‘time-poor’ today. They have less time to travel for leisure purposes, but they want to ensure that their trips create a memorable experience - one they can savour for a long time. This was one of the conclusions of the Pisa Forum, organised by IPK International and sponsored for the second year by ITB Berlin.
Among the different issues and trends earmarked by the Forum - which will be addressed by IPK’s President and founder, Rolf Freitag, during his annual ITB Berlin Message on the ITB Future Day of the ITB Convention (at 15.15 on Wednesday 7 March), the changing profile of tourists was one of the most frequently cited by the experts present.
And this is apparent in all leading tourism source regions - from Europe to North America and Asia Pacific.
While today’s consumers increasingly demand better quality tourism products, it is paradoxical that the majority are still constantly on the look-out for ‘price deals’. Pricing clearly remains key.
Today’s leisure travellers, who comprise more singles, more female travellers, more grandparents travelling with their grandchildren, and more large family units (several generations), are much less concerned about which destination they visit, which means they tend to be less loyal to destinations than they ever were in the past.
The increased desire for healthy living and the need to escape highly pressured working environments have stimulated the demand for niche products such as spa/wellness tourism, outdoor activities, cruises, educational trips, etc.
In this age of environmental changes and the increasingly widespread awareness of the need to be more ‘green’, authenticity is also of growing importance to holidaymakers than ever before. They want more interaction with local people and a more emotional and cultural link to the people and communities they visit.
Fewer travellers are prepared to believe the ‘marketing and PR hype’ from professionally written reviews of destinations and, thanks to the democratisation of technology and the spread of Web 2.0, they no longer have to. Only 38% of American travellers read professionally written reviews, for example, while one in three reads traveller reviews of destinations, and two in three read travellers’ hotel reviews.
The growth of broadband and mobile devices is also stimulating new consumer interaction and lets travellers share their experiences of destinations and suppliers with other internet users.
In addition, consumers now want more control in organising their trips, especially when travelling for leisure, and technology has provided them with the means to assume this control and customise their own travel plans.
This trend is even apparent in China, where young, educated Chinese demand more flexibility instead of ready-made, organised package holidays.