The relative wealth of travel buyers, combined with their preference for online purchasing, means that the richness of travel data provides greater insights into consumers for marketers, helping them to deliver targeted messages to specific, high-value audiences.
Recently, travel data specialist ADARA has conducted research looking into travel habits of some specific audience demographics to help marketers achieve this. We researched the booking habits of 'Millennial' travellers (travellers aged 35 and under), 'Elite' travellers, (travellers who in the past six months bought a business or first class airline ticket or stayed in a luxury hotel), and those travelling to the Middle East and North Africa region, or 'MENA' travellers.
The research, while designed to standalone and offer insight to brands and marketers looking to target narrow audience segments, when compared and contrasted offers several overarching lessons to marketers looking to target travellers, and reveals how high-quality data can help marketers overcome common industry assumptions so they can better understand and target their customers.
Different travellers research, plan and book trips in ways you may not expect. The research shows that Millennial and Elite travellers both opt to fly front of the cabin, 44% and 53% respectively, highlighting their disposable funds and willingness to spend on additional extras. MENA travellers meanwhile have a tendency to seek out more luxurious hotels when visiting the region – $230 per night on average to be exact compared to a global average of $185. In fact, all three travel demographics - Millennial, MENA and Elite - are revealed as being willing to spend money on luxury items.
What does this mean to marketers? Firstly, don’t underestimate Millennial travellers. 57% of British Millennials are willing to pay for upgrades, compared to 38% of 35+ year olds, as well as being more likely to purchase amenities in-flight. This figure may surprise some. Millennials have a reputation of being avid but frugal travellers, known to search online for the best deal, with price being the determining factor when booking a trip. Research finds 86% of British Millennials prioritise price over airlines when choosing a flight. Despite this, Millennials should not be viewed by marketers as cash-strapped bargain hunters, as they are happy to spend money on favoured luxuries such as upgrades and amenities – more so than their older counterparts.
Elite travellers, whilst they are more likely than Millennial travellers to fly front of cabin (which is to be expected as they have bought a business or first class ticket in the last six months) – almost half (47%) of their travel is in economy. Marketers should be wary of luring them in solely with first class luxuries, as they are not above flying economy or in the back of the cabin.
Elite travellers are also known in the industry for their preference for first-class and high end hotels, but research shows they are very destination focused. Elite travellers are not averse to staying in mid-tier or full service accommodation in order to secure the specific location they require – 54% do not exclusively stay at luxury hotels. Therefore, valuable Elite travellers are open to relevant marketing efforts which help them maximise their trip.
The right place
Reaching your audience in the right place is also key for audience targeting, and for travel marketers, targeting British Millennials with a hotel stay or a flight booking requires a different strategy. Research reveals British Millennial travellers are more likely to book flights through airline websites than other outlets, and more so than American millennials (43% vs. 34%). Brits are also more likely to book hotels through general travel websites than through hotel sites (54% vs. 27%).
Additionally, when compared to their older counterparts, Millennials in the UK are more likely to use digital resources such as Google to plan and book their travel compared to their older counterparts (47% vs. 31%) – proving that marketers need to adapt their campaigns to reach this younger audience.
The right time
Marketers should also be aware of when travellers book trips, as audience segments’ booking windows differ. Travellers to the MENA region tend to plan further in advance than the average global travellers, with the average MENA traveller booking their flights 38 days ahead of travel compared to 26 days compared to the global average. Millennials meanwhile tend to plan ahead compared to non-Millennials, but considerably less than MENA travellers – they start searching for flights 13 days in advance of booking the flight compared to 9 days for older adults to ensure that they get the experience at the best price. Hotel searches are no different, with a longer window of 8 days prior to booking compared to 6 days for older adults.
Elite travellers actually have a longer search process than non-Elite travellers – contrary to industry assumptions that they are prone to last-minute bookings. This provides a longer window for marketers to target and engage them during their planning mode, with the added benefit of their larger budget. An Elite traveller typically begins planning eight days before committing to a flight booking and a lengthy 32 days before departure date. This is in comparison to non-Elite travelers that begin searching for a hotel a mere two days before booking their flight and search for six days before booking.
Such detailed insight into travel habits offers marketers and brands the opportunity to better understand the booking behaviour of specific travel demographics, and reach them most effectively to harness their spending power.