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It's a personality thing

by Laura Gelder | 19 October 2016

At this year’s ABTA Travel Convention there seemed to be three main topics: Brexit, digital/technology (incorporating social media) and segmentation. The latter is a neat little word which conjures up images of Terry’s Chocolate Oranges and order for me. ​

In this context it’s referring to market segmentation: the process of dividing up a huge base of potential customers into subcategories of consumers, each with their own unique characteristics. The idea is that this will help you understand them better and ultimately sell to them more successfully.

Liz Emmott, Sales Director for Amadeus UK, did this in her session entitled Future Traveller Tribes 2030. The title comes from a study which her company commissioned to try and understand tomorrow’s travellers and it identified six future ‘tribes’ – simplicity searchers, cultural purists, social capital seekers, reward hunters, obligation meeters and ethical travellers.

The talk also revealed what type and level of marketing should be aimed at each. Cultural purists, for instance, want to be immersed in the unfamiliar, don’t like to plan and avoid ‘mainstream’ at all costs so it’s best to keep the level of contact low and don’t bother personalising your message.

Reward hunters, on the other hand, are looking for personal enrichment and one-off experiences and they need personalised marketing that plays to their ego and desire to be a VIP.

As I sat listening to this my attention wandered, as I’m sure everyone’s did, to what tribe I belonged to. I often feel the burn-out of the simplicity seeker and I love a beach holiday with no commitment other than a stack of books and my sundowner beer. But I don’t have lots of money and I’m not overwhelmed by choice – choosing is brilliant! In fact, I find planning a holiday is almost as much fun as executing it.

I’m a bit of an Instagram addict and my pulse definitely quickens when I see an Insta-worthy shot slide into view. But other than that I’m a tech Luddite. I stubbornly refuse to get a Kindle because they don’t smell nice and instead devote half my luggage allowance to giant Michael Connelly paperbacks. I also haven’t posted a picture or opinion on Facebook for several years and I wish I had the guts to come off it. When I take a selfie I feel distinctly sheepish. So not a social cpaital seeker then...

I definitely plan to do some volunteering on my next big trip and the thought of visiting SeaWorld brings me out in hives, but I don’t think that quite makes me a member of the ethical traveller tribe. Because I also quite fancy getting a bit mad with it in Ibiza: guzzling happy hour mojitos in Café Mambo and dancing to Scooter in some sticky-floored Eurotrash bar before heading to one of those super clubs where a thimble of water costs ten Euros.

So what am I? I hadn’t expected to have an existential crisis at the ABTA Travel Convention.

It also didn’t help that prior to this session, we had already listened to the very funny Debbie Marshall from Silver Travel Advisor talk about her own market segments. FYI: these include the happy homebirds, the female adventuress and the multi-generation group. In short, she segmented within a segment. And if you think about it, the possibilities for this are endless.

It allows me to be a caring cultural hedonist. I like that.

To sum up, use segmentation if you think it helps you. But don’t abandon listening in favour of analysing. We’re only human after all, and so are your customers.

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