As a foodie, I frequently get asked, “What is your favorite dish?” My answer: a buffet. And if you asked about my style as a traveler, my answer would be the same. How can anything so wonderfully dimensional be defined as just one thing?
I had this same reaction when first reading Amadeus’ latest forward-looking report, Future Traveler Tribes 2030, which explores the characteristics and behaviors of six emerging traveler groups of the future: Obligation Meeters, Simplicity Searchers, Cultural Purists, Social Capital Seekers, Reward Hunters and Ethical Travelers.
As a marketing professional, I was excited to dig into the report’s insights. I was interested to learn how the travel landscape may evolve, and what the behaviors and desires of tomorrow’s travelers may be. At Amadeus, we know that understanding these travel trends is critical for developing relevant technology solutions for our customers.
As an avid traveler, I was also excited to discover which Traveler Tribe I most identified with. So I took the Amadeus quiz to find out. The result: I am a Simplicity Searcher, those who “value above everything else ease and transparency in their travel planning and holidaymaking, and are willing to outsource their decision-making to trusted parties.” Ok, that’s valid but…
On any given day, and even within any trip I take, I consider myself a mix of some – or even all – of the six Traveler Tribes. Sometimes I just want to lie on a beach. Or I want to explore a cultural site. Sometimes I want to help build houses in a remote village. Or I want my friends to drool over my latest travel escapades on social media. And sometimes I want all of the above, even during the same trip.
So for those of us who want the option of checking all the Tribe boxes when we travel, I propose creating a seventh category: the “Total Traveler Tribe,” or what I’ll call “T3” for short.
Here’s a perfect example from one trip I took through Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. The trip epitomizes a “T3 experience” in action:
- Simplicity Searcher: Sought the assistance of an expert travel agent to plan and book my flights and itinerary. I also secured the services of local guides and drivers. I wanted easy-breezy planning and navigation of these exotic locales.
- Obligation Meeter: Traveled to Bangkok with a specific goal and purpose – to attend an Amadeus business conference. But I also brought on the “bleisure” by adding vacation time in Vietnam and Cambodia.
- Cultural Purist: Went off the beaten path to wander the neighborhoods of Vietnam. I wanted to see it like a native, experience the hidden gems and engage with the people. And the only way to get across the busy streets of Hanoi, is to act like a local. Trust me on that one.
- Social Capital Seeker: Tagged and bragged the photos. I induced major FOMO among my fellow foodies by taking a class at the premier Blue Elephant Cooking School in Bangkok.
- Ethical Traveler: Helped assure a sustainable future for the travelers who will follow. I treaded carefully on a tour of Angkor Wat to assure preservation of this UNESCO site’s amazing temples and surrounding scenery.
The only box I didn’t check on that trip was “Reward Hunter.” But give me time – that will be next.
So what is the travel industry to do with us T3s? Does that make us the trickiest of Tribes to serve? A marketer’s nightmare? Disruptors of big data designed to figure out consumer preferences and desires?
Regardless of whether you lean toward one Traveler Tribe or another, or consider yourself a T3 like me, what’s clear is that there will be a lot of dimension and complexity to travelers of the future. One size won’t fit all. The travel industry will need to stay focused and diligent to understand and ultimately serve future Traveler Tribesters like me. Nobody puts “T3 Debbie” in the corner. I want it all.
Amadeus’ Future Traveler Tribes 2030 report effectively captures that sentiment. The report does not present the Tribes as “mutually exclusive and distinct silos into which consumer groups can be neatly placed.” Rather, it is meant to “inspire conversation among travel brands about how to best cater for tomorrow’s global traveler base.”
And every day, thanks to the talent, technology and innovation of the travel industry, we get closer to making sure we get it right. Only time will tell. Let the dialogue begin.