Travel Behaviour: What adds the spark to your trip?

Travel Behaviour: What adds the spark to your trip?

"People forget years and remember moments"

--Ann Beattie

Each individual has a unique travel style, including the choice of the destination, the type of activities enjoyed during the travel etc. There are 12 different travel personalities we can categorize individuals into, they are- culture creature, city slicker, sight seeker, family guy/girl, beach bum, avid athlete, shopping shark, all-rounder, trail trekker, history buff, boater and gamer. Most of the characteristic traits of these travel personalities can be understood from their names. This information is obtained from the study done by Gretzel, Mitsche, Hwang and Fesenmaier (2004) which explores how travel personalities can be used as shortcuts to understanding travel behaviour.

Travel behaviour refers to the type of activities that individuals engage in during the travel as well as how they use transportation. The type of travel behaviour found in individuals is based on their attitudes before, during and after travel. Further, the preferred travel activities and levels of interaction with the host community may vary based on past travel experiences, the people who accompany them, the reason for travel-business or pleasure, the weather, accessibility of various activities and their basic personalities.

In the study done by Gretzel, Mitsche, Hwang and Fesenmaier (2004), participants were asked to choose from 17 travel behaviours. The results were then correlated with their travel personality. The 17 options for travel behaviour were- dining, shopping, sightseeing, antique shopping, festival/special event, beach/water front, visit historic site, museum/play/concert, hiking, gambling, bird watching, boating, nightlife, boat/auto/antique show, hunting/fishing, golfing and biking. Although this research specifically examined those travel behaviours that are associated with the Northern Indiana region, it could be applicable to other destinations as well. However, this research found a close correspondence between the travel personalities and the travel behaviour chosen by the participants.

Each travel personality has been found to be linked to more than one travel behaviour. Some of the obvious examples would be a Boater and boating, Sight Seeker and sightseeing. The results of this relationship were measured on two dimensions.

Dimension 1- Focused on travel motives. They range from desire to escape to engaging in learning while travelling. It ranges from the Gamer’s need to gamble, to take a break from life on one extreme and the History Buff’s curiosity to learn by visiting museum, on the other end. Dimension 2- The traveller’s preference for natural or man-made constructed settings was measured in this dimension. This dimension ranges from the enthusiasm of a Trail Trekker to spend time in nature by hiking and bird watching to the fascination of a Culture Creature to visit museums on the other end.

Some of the other findings of this study indicated how specific travel personalities linked to one or more specific travel behaviours. Culture Creatures were found to enjoy a range of activities related to the local culture which includes participating in cultural festivals and visiting local museums as well as historic sites of the region. Shopping Sharks, who look to visit places with great shopping opportunities, showed interest in shopping. However, they were also found to enjoy and engage in nightlife and dining.

The two travel personalities which were seen to have numerous travel behaviours linked to it were the All Rounders and the Family Guys/Girls. As the name states, All-Rounders seem to take interest in a wide range of activities, thereby enjoying some of this and some of that, with a lot of flexibility. Family Guys/Girls, on the other hand, took an interest in different activities as their focus is on spending time with the family. Therefore, the activities they enjoy incorporate the interests of different age groups and gender. This ensures that the family as a whole enjoys the trip. In line with this, Family Guys/Girls did not show interest in those travel behaviours which would be more suited to individuals, such as gambling, hunting, fishing as well as biking.

This research study indicated empirical evidence that some travellers prefer certain activities over others and this can be predicted based on their travel personality. Having this knowledge can be extremely useful in the marketing and tourism industry. Instead of spending time bombarding their clients with questions about their preferences or resorting to long-drawn-out processes of using questionnaires, customers can be asked to pick their best-suited travel personality out of a lot. Once this information has been collected it can be used as a quick fool-proof shortcut to listing their preferred travel activities.

In cases where customers are confused about which travel personality suits them the best, they can be given the alternative option of stating which travel personalities they do not relate to. This can also enable the customers and their guides in short-listing the possible travel destinations and activities they would enjoy.

Conclusively, it can be stated that through this process, the benefits of psychological techniques can be effectively used to improve businesses. If used appropriately, these techniques are sure to improve customer satisfaction, simultaneously reducing the time and human resource involved in the process. For individuals too, knowing their travel personalities will provide the clarity in travel planning and guide their choice of travel destinations and planning of activities.

About the Author

Sruthi Suresh
Doctoral Research Scholar.

I am delighted to be a part of the Psychologs Team as it provides me a forum to combine both my passions- Psy

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