2. The more experienced partner in LGBTQ families
Including LGBTQ families in this article was important because traditional heterosexual marketing insights no longer applies. For instance, the common notion that wives are responsible for information collection during the planning process doesn't apply to couples comprised of two husbands or two wives.
So who then is responsible and has the most influence over the vacation planning process?
In his thesis, Lukas Kucera interviewed 5 different families and found that research responsibilities were generally assigned according to who had the most experience and capability in the area. And in turn, this person had more influence over the final travel decision.
When it comes to making the final decision, Kucera found that the dominant partner in gay couples ends up having the final say, while joint decisions are made along the way. As for lesbian couples, this and other decisions throughout the planning process are made together.
Kucera also explored some factors that influence travel decisions like their previous experience at the destination and the perception of locals towards gay and lesbian families. Labels like "gay friendly" barely influence their decisions.
Another rather obvious point is that LGBTQ families want to avoid risks during their holidays, and sometimes, that includes avoiding legal risks. Here's a quote from one of the participants:
“Being lesbian moms requires some additional considerations, too. In addition to the possibility of having to deal with discrimination, harassment, and persecution during what should be a relaxing getaway, we need to deal with the practical fact that our legal marriage isn’t recognized in most states or foreign countries.”
This can become an issue if an accident occurs and parents need to make medical decisions for their children.
Key takeaway: Gender normative marketing is out the door when it comes to attracting LGBTQ families. You will be marketing to knowledgeable and experienced travellers so create messages that are honest and authentic. Be prepared to address any concerns parents might have, and be sure to point out potential risks they might face (and provide solutions) if they visit your destination.
3. Children in families
Understanding children's roles in the travel planning and decision making process is important as well, especially when it comes to understanding how spouses from both heterosexual and LGBTQ families arrive at a joint decision.
So far, researchers have found that children exert two types on influences that is highly dependent on their ages.
Passive influence (babies, toddlers and children below 11 years)
A study on how parents with young children choose their holiday accommodation found that children exert influence over logistical issues like travel distance, accommodation safety and child-friendly amenities available. Other less tangible factors include the quality of interaction between hotel staff and children and the family-oriented programmes offered also influence parents decisions.
Here's an interview excerpt of the participant talking about a positive encounter they had:
"Holidays are an extraordinary “free space” which allows for more negotiation power being bestowed on children than in everyday life.” - Therekelson (2010)
Nanda, Hu and Bai found that older children have more influence over the vacation planning process, especially at the information collection or research stage. Plus, children with more knowledge and expertise will have more influence over a family's travel decisions.
Another interesting discussion in this paper was that children's strategies to influence their parent's decisions by anticipating how their parents would respond. For example, if parents tend to reason with their children, children will also try reasoning with their parents. On the other hand, if parents are more logical and use excuses like "it's too expensive", these children are likely to seek out deals, discounts or even compromise on their request.
4. Luxe travel agents serving high-end customers
Another key decision maker that is often responsible for organising group travel are travel agents. Research into specialist luxury travel agents identified a clear and rapid decision making process luxury travel agents use to create the best experience for their customers.
5. Organisers for groups of friends who travel together
A research paper studying how Chinese international students make travel decisions found that disagreement prevention was a key element in ensuring that the decision-making process went on as smoothly as possible.
This mirrors countless articles found on Google with titles like "How to travel with friends (and not want to kill them)" or "Escape your scene, not your squad".
Researchers found that three main decision-making models are employed in group travel scenarios - leadership, division or work and shared decision-making. Translated into everyday language, this means that a group is likely to nominate the most experienced traveller to lead the planning process, or that the most experienced traveller was the one who initiated the idea to travel.
Another five disagreement prevention strategies were found as well - travelling with like-minded people, adequate preparation, empathy and mutual understanding, tolerance and compensation.
Key takeaway: For tour operators hoping to attract groups of travellers, up you game by providing additional services and/or tips and tricks to make planning easier for the group leader (who is also an experienced traveller). With the buy-in of the leader, it would be easy to get the whole group to agree to joining your excursion.
Written by Nicole Kow
Having graduated from the UK, Nicole travelled around Europe before joining TrekkSoft's marketing team. She is now based in KL and regularly blogs about her travels at Next Train Out.