The Psychographics Of Vacation Travel Influencers

Where they stayed, what they did, the food they ate: people love to talk about vacations. But some people -- call them vacation travel influencers -- talk a lot more than others, and that translates to opportunities for hospitality marketers. Guests who have a favorable impression of a hotel brand can become assets that generate free and highly effective endorsements. Travel influencers frequently make recommendations across broad social networks, are highly trusted and are word-of-mouth leaders.

By identifying guests who are most likely to advocate for their brand and understanding their mindsets on a range of topics -- from dining to shopping, from family values to self-image -- hotel marketers can gain insights to spread buzz and build better strategies, partnerships, guest services and promotions.

Hotel brands measured by GfK MRI's "Survey of the American Consumer" can be grouped into the six categories routinely used by hospitality marketers to segment their industry:

  • Premium Tier: Luxury brands such as Fairmont, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and W.
  • Second Tier: Extremely upscale brands such as Doubletree, Hilton, Hyatt and Westin.
  • Third Tier: Upscale brands such as Courtyard by Marriott, Crowne Plaza and Wyndham.
  • Fourth Tier: Mid-range brands that have restaurants, bars, or offer food services such as Best Western, Holiday Inn and Ramada Inn.
  • Fifth Tier: Mid-range brands that do not offer food service such as Comfort Inns, Hampton Inn and La Quinta Inns.
  • Sixth Tier: Economy-oriented brands such as Days Inn, Motel 6 and Travelodge.



When influencers are compared side by side, marketers can see how their advocates differ -- or not -- from those of their competitors. For example, Premium Tier influencers are the only group to over-index (compared to the other Tiers) for saying they like to "shower loved ones with gifts." They also are the only group to over-index for agreeing with the statements, "I often find myself in a leadership position"; "I often take the opportunity to discuss my knowledge of vacation options with others"; and "I buy brands that reflect my style."

Influencers in Tier Two (extremely upscale hotel brands) are the only group to over-index for agreeing with the following:

  • "Risk-taking is exciting for me"
  • "When I find a restaurant I like, I stick with it"
  • "I regularly eat organic foods"
  • "I buy natural products because I am concerned about my and my family's health"

In Tier Three (upscale hotel brands), these are the statements for which the influencers over-index in the affirmative:

  • "If I really want something, I will buy it on credit rather than wait"
  • "I like to look at advertising"
  • "My friends are the most important things in my life"

Tier Four (mid-range hotel brands) influencers are the only group of influencers who over-index for agreeing with the statement, "Too many products do not perform as well as the ads claim." Tier Five (mid-range hotel brands) influencers are the only group to over-index for agreeing that, "Prayer is a part of my daily life."

Tier Six (economy-oriented hotels) influencers are the only group that "strive to achieve a high social status," would rather take "a few weekend vacations" rather than one long vacation, and prefer to visit places they've never been to. They also over-index for agreeing that, "My children have a significant impact on the brands I choose," and "I feel I am more environmentally conscious than most."

How best to reach these various travel influencers? A look at their use of and attitudes toward various media provides some clues. Influencers in the Premium Tier are more likely (compared to influencers in the other Tiers) to look to the Internet and newspapers to keep informed and up-to-date.

Tier Six traveler influencers, who probably spend more time in vehicles getting to and from their vacation destinations, express an interest in outdoor advertising, and they describe both the Internet and magazines as "a good escape." However, they also harbor distrust in advertising, agreeing that it is "more manipulative than it is informative," and they over-index for agreeing with the statement "Much of advertising is way too annoying."

Knowledge is power, as the saying goes. If you're serious about marketing to vacation travel influencers, it helps to get serious about understanding their mindsets.

2 comments about "The Psychographics Of Vacation Travel Influencers ".
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  1. Jan Van den bergh from Holaba, March 15, 2011 at 4:42 a.m.

    Great Research.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 10, 2011 at 3:59 p.m.

    garbage in - garbage out

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