In this extract from the free-to-download Travel Performance Marketing digital supplement we explore the behaviours of both business and leisure travellers to understand what makes an individual a "creature of habit".
The Cambridge Dictionary states that a creature of habit is “someone who always wants to do the same things in the same way”.
Similarly, Oxford Dictionaries describes a creature of habit as “a person who follows an unvarying routine”. Both statements are arguably accurate descriptions of a considerable amount of modern-day travellers, be it for business or leisure breaks.
There are numerous reasons why a person becomes a creature of habit, such as previous personal experiences or comfort, with many individuals perfectly happy to stay with what they know or understand.
Living in a series of repetitive patterns may also be a matter of limited confidence in new ideas and suggestions, or perhaps it is a matter of a lack of opportunities available.
Some may argue that a creature of habit is lazy or unimaginative, while for many people it could simply be a case of ‘fear of the unknown’. In the current climate, other factors such as finance have emerged, with price driving a large majority of consumer habits.
But what is it that makes someone a ‘creature of habit’ when it comes to travel?
UK airline Monarch Flights released a study in April 2014 revealing that millions of British travellers repeat their holiday patterns year after year, with reasons behind repetitive getaways ranging from weather and food to the length of the flight.
For young families the overriding factor when planning and booking a holiday is keeping children happy and safe. Knowing that a venue will cater for their needs is not only comforting but for many it is essential.
”Travellers are creatures of habit because they have to be,” says global head of biddable media at Cheapflights Jim Banks, citing school holiday as just one example of the restrictions put on families, limiting their options and forcing them into repetitive travel habits.
The Monarch Flights poll found that more than eight in ten UK adults have returned to the same holiday resort twice or more and that the average British holidaymaker returns to their favourite resort six times in their life, with one in ten families revisiting the same destination 15 times or more.
Alain Portmann, head of media and insights at digital performance marketing agency House of Kaizen, believes the effort of straying from the norm plays a considerable role in travel plans, with many opting for the same or a similar experience out of convenience.
“Most people do not want to apply too much effort when making choices and will revert to previous experiences,” he says.
“Behavioural economics provides us with a clue…specifically choice architecture - the fact that consumers tend to choose relative to what is available rather than any other absolute standard.
“In short, for many travellers choice is a matter of what they can have, not absolutely about what they want.”
Interestingly Monarch Flights also revealed that two thirds of respondents wish they had more choice of destination within their price range, which may contribute to changing their choice of destination or venue in the future.
Back to business
Even more so than the average holidaymaker, business travellers - or “road warriors” as they are sometimes known - have long been considered creatures of habit. Convenience, comfort, reliability and bonus schemes all contribute to the idea of repetitive corporate travel.
“Choice architecture plays an even bigger role with business travelers; as business travellers work on the basis of limited choices determined many times by company travel policies,” says Portmann.
Access to Wi-Fi, room service and hotel amenities contribute to the desired seamless experience considered essential for business travel.
Beyond comfort and convenience, reward points collected at hotels or on airlines is another key factor when travelling for work. As fiscal logic states, why stay elsewhere when there are clear financial incentives to repeat your travel choices on every trip?
A sense of routine
As business travel columnist Joe Brancatelli states, nobody understands business travellers “except those of us who do it”.
Writing in 2013, he stated: “To be charitable, business travelers are creatures of habit.
“We're not comfortable with optional changes and we're very protective of the rhythms of our daily schedules and the products and services we use.”
Louisa Lawson, senior affiliate marketing manager for DigitasLBi, who represents travel clients such as Delta Airlines, states that brand and loyalty play vital roles in consumer preference, contributing to the unvarying habits of travellers.
“I do believe that a customer wouldn’t continue to return to the same place or brand purely for loyalty if they didn’t enjoy to brand or have a personal preference for it.
“If they identify with a brand and a price point that works for them then they’re more likely to continue to return to what they know suits them,” she says.
Cheapflights’ Banks echoes Lawson’s comments, affirming the importance of personal preference, especially for those who travel for business.
“Business travellers tend to fly the same airline, same class of travel, same seat, same routine. (They) need structure.”
Being able to maintain a sense of routine is often a key factor when travelling for work, which many feel is most likely to be achieved in a familiar setting.
For many business travellers, despite an often corporate environment, a particular hotel chain, hotel or even the same room, becomes a home away from home. And isn’t that what hospitality is all about?
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