Travel Convention 2017: ‘Leisure is new mantra but world is more dangerous’

Travel Convention 2017: ‘Leisure is new mantra but world is more dangerous’

Travel Convention preview: Guest speakers to offer consumer insights. By Ian Taylor

Consumers have “an insatiable desire” for leisure experiences but perceive the world as increasingly dangerous – and both trends are driving holiday choices.

That is the view of Tom Johnson, director of consumer insight consultancy Trajectory, a keynote speaker at Abta’s Travel Convention in October.

Johnson told Travel Weekly: “We monitor trends in consumer behaviour, as well as economic, demographic and technology trends, and have a good understanding of the drivers and what that means for travel decisions.”

He identifies “a greater polarisation” from “the global economic system’s failure to benefit large numbers of people who have not seen economic benefits for a decade”.

“There is also a sense the world is more dangerous, although we know it’s not. People are living longer, are healthier, and there is less conflict.

The world is safer, [yet] 70% of people in the UK believe the world is more dangerous [because] we see all sorts going on in the media.”

At the same time, Johnson said: “Consumers seemingly have an insatiable appetite for more leisure experiences.

“Twenty years ago the most important thing was family, followed by work and then leisure. Work has declined massively in importance since. We’ve become a ‘play’ society where people prioritise leisure.”

Johnson said: “We had a six-year downturn [from 2008-09] during which spending didn’t return to the previous level until 2016, but leisure spending was 20% higher [by 2016]. Almost everything else was cut back – regular household spending, expenditure on food.”

He added: “Working time has also changed. If you weren’t in the office or at your place of work 20 years ago, you couldn’t work.

“Today, people increasingly define themselves by their leisure activities rather than by work.”

Trajectory undertook a ‘time‑use’ study, in conjunction with Oxford University, involving more than 6,000 consumers in the UK and other European countries to see how people filled a 24-hour day.

Johnson said: “Over time there has been a sea change. We now see much greater flexibility. Eating is a good example. In the 1970s, there were distinct meal times. Now people eat through the day.”

Generational expert to give an XYZ guide to customers

Businesses need to be able to address people of different generations not just as customers but as colleagues, according to Dr Paul Redmond, an expert on generation theory.

Redmond, director of student life at the University of Manchester, will address The Travel Convention in October on differences between generations.

He told Travel Weekly: “A lot of firms are run by older people, but they work with five generations Generational expert to give an XYZ guide to customers of people who all have different expectations, want different service and [need] to be spoken to in different ways.”

He said: “Technology and social media really shapes the way younger people see the world.”

Redmond added: “I’ll focus on Generation Y, those born between 1980 and 1999.” He acknowledges there are no standard definitions of the generations referred to in this way, including the much-used term ‘millennials’.

But he said: “I talk about ‘the silent generation’, born pre- 1945, who are hardy, stoical and put up with things. Next are the ‘baby boomers’, born 1946-63, ‘Generation X’, born 1964-79, ‘Generation Y’, and ‘Generation Z’, born since 2000.”

He describes Generation Y as digital natives, adding: “They don’t use terms like ‘holiday’, but go ‘travelling’ – often to the same places as older generations – in a search for ‘authenticity’.

“They are informal, which can cause problems with punctuality at work. They expect career breaks. They work with you rather than for you, have a slightly idealistic view of the world, and are quite happy to let their parents intervene in areas people would not have done [in the past].”

In the workplace, he said: “You can alienate people without realising it. The key is being aware of your own generational assumptions.”

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