I think there is a market out there for a tool which really helps people travel for fun, wisely.
- Starting from city X, these destinations Y1 and Y2 are unusually cheap (with filters to remove bad weather, crazy long flights, etc.)
- Starting from city X, these destinations Z1 and Z2 are the best value for N travel dates (with filters to remove bad weather, crazy long flights, etc. on by default)
- Any unusually large number of general filters, allowing travelers to quantitatively rank destinations based on various priorities (along with custom additions for destinations to which they have unique interests from history, movies, or other such factors).
- Would potentially have a long-term account, allowing users to be notified of upcoming discounts, as well as allowing them to logically build from newbie friendly to veteran-only destinations.
My primary hypothesis is that monetary value is the one unifying factor shared by the vast majority of travelers. Even the wealthy, who may spend many tens of thousands of dollars on a trip, will generally still want to know they are getting the most from that money where they are, rather than somewhere else. Such a tool as above could also, potentially, help more evenly distribute tourists around the world, as opposed to the current situation where vast hordes land on a few destinations, overwhelming them.
However, beyond money, identifying what place is the right choice for travelers is near impossible. There are too many layers of emotions and biases to sort through.
Just to make a stab at it: here is every type of trip you can go on. At the highest level it is a choice between taking action vs relaxation:
- Cheap Beaches (Florida, Mexico, Bali – cheap depending on how close to your home country of course)
- Premium Beaches (Hawaii, Bahamas, Maldives)
- Great Cities (London, Paris, New York, Tokyo … this includes most music, food, art, events, nightlife)
- Best Value Great Cities (Eastern Europe, Canada, and SE Asia)
- Nature and Adventure (New Zealand, Norway, Costa Rica, American West, Hawaii, Central Africa)
- Southern Hemisphere Winter Getaways (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South America, SE Asia)
- Stag Party Cities (a crazy UK drinking thing we all wish didn’t exist)
- Gambling Party Cities (Las Vegas, Monaco, Macau – probably the smallest group)
- Religious (Rome, Mecca, Jerusalem, Istanbul)
Yet, as with all human things, cities cannot be so easily squished into boxes. If I wrote that list up tomorrow, it would probably look completely different. Travel, being expensive and involved, rarely comes down to choosing a destination from your favorite of the above boxes.
My first hypothesis is that most travelers already know when and where they want to go.
They are business travelers, people visiting family for events and holidays, students on spring break, and so on.
- They can use one of a million different means of booking.
- Most booking options will offer essentially identical products and prices.
- Most travelers will be concerned with finding the best value option constrained by their desires over convenient travel times and whether they want a premium product.
- Reward programs for frequent travelers will probably be the only major differentiator.
- Conclusion: competing for these customers is only worth it when you have economics of scale to leverage.
The next largest group of travelers will be those who have a fairly fixed idea for their travel, but are flexible to some degree in exactly where and when they can travel.
A family wants to go on a cruise in the Caribbean in winter. A couple plans their first trip to Europe in early summer.
It is my next hypothesis that these travelers are generally overwhelmed by the choices in front of them.
- This is the group most susceptible to advertising.
- A combination of emotions and discounts will be the primary drivers of their choice.
- They will tend to buy relatively quickly, and fairly often on impulse. They probably end up choosing one of the first options that ‘feels right’ to them, or else the best deal they can see.
- Bookings will probably follow from general Google searches or from article click-through.
The final group of travelers will generally be veteran travelers, who have already seen enough of the ‘brand name’ destinations. They are capable of dealing with a lot more complexity, and have more considerations than regular travelers.
- They do extensive personal research or hire/use a travel agent to help them.
- Often times they will be operating on various hearsay from fellow travelers they’ve picked up over the years.
I have one final hypothesis, which is that more and more people are becoming like that last group – people who put serious thought into their vacation. More people are traveling, which means more veteran travelers overall. Also more social sharing of the vacation – on Instagram or other social media – means that more people have a desire for a trip that stands out both in their eyes and the eyes of others. Standing out generally requires more thought put into the trip beforehand.
Some of the choices people must make:
- Group Tour vs Independent
- Complete package vs simple package vs custom
- Action vs Relaxation
- Then selections from all of the categories at the top of this article.
- What time of year is ideal for this destination?
- Travel time to destination, environmental impact, English speaking, density of things to do (how long can you best spend there), female friendly, etc.