If you don’t know what kind of traveler you are, don’t worry because plenty of businesses already know that and a whole lot more about you. In fact, you are already labeled, placed in a category, given a score and marked for future purchases.
Consumer intelligence gathering has been going on for a long time, and has become its own industry. The business premise is fair and straightforward: Try to know the customer better than your competition. The information is out there, why not use it? Through various channels of credit card spending, census gathering, online purchasing activity, social media and the repetitive predictability of daily living, we communicate enough about ourselves that clear and accurate patterns can be formed. Basically, our past behavior becomes the prime predictor of our future behavior. This allows businesses to tempt us by placing the right product, at the right price, at the right time, right under our noses.
In tourism, we are labeled with a “persona.” Our persona places us in a group of like-minded people with certain characteristics that distinguish us from all others. Sometimes, this is the result of more than 100 search variables that together create a unique buyer profile. Marketers believe these profiles to be so pinpoint accurate that they will bet the bulk of their budget on this method of reaching potential buyers.
Once a persona category is formed, it is given a descriptive name that is suggestive of the age, mindset and social behavior of everyone in that group. For example, Young Free Spirits personify the socially connected, impulsive millennials 18-24 years old, and Adventure Seekers 25-35 are early in their careers and want authentic vacation experiences. A Finding Self-Seeker 25-35 is budget minded and likely traveling with friends, while the Experience Seeker 36-50 has high disposable income, follows trip reviews and seeks leisure and culture.
A Couponing Family persona is where mom rules, loves deals and prefers vacations centered on activities, or a Go For It Family has higher disposable income and searches for memory-making adventures. It takes a real discount to get the 51-65 year old Visiting Family Retiree to leave home, but they make four or more trips a year.
The Dream Trippers 51-65 favor packaged tours and will travel with other couples making up to eight trips a year, while the 66-plus year old Frugal Boomer travels on a fixed budget, closer to home, but stays away longer. Then there’s the Bucket Lister 66-plus who does a lot of research in pursuit of breathtaking, last-chance vacations.
Care to guess what these personas are looking for? Babies and Bliss. Full Pockets and Empty Nest. Kids and Cabernet. Generational Soup. Silver Sophisticates. Did you find yourself?
Even the pizza guy knows you order on Thursday nights and prefer thin crusts. And there’s no need to say “Hold the anchovies.”
He already knows that.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Bob Kunkel is executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office.