Persona Spotlight: The Modern Vacationer

Vacationers, holidaymakers, tourists, travellers. 

Multiple names to describe an audience with a shared set of attributes.

Using regional insights on a global scale, our full modern vacationers report takes a close look at the behavioral and psychographic attributes that bind this group together and set it apart from the wider population.

With these insights, brands can build detailed personas of the vacationer that outline areas where they’re most receptive, and the content that resonates with them. 

Here we break down the report, offering key insights into the modern vacationer, and how to action them.

Profiling the modern vacationer

Income

In the top 25% of income earners, 37% travel at least every 2-3 months.

The most common generations taking holidays abroad regularly (at least 2-3 times a month) are millennials and Gen X, and this is likely down to the amount of disposable income available to these cohorts respectively.

Regional patterns

There’s also a positive correlation between the density of countries in a specific region, and the amount of vacations taken. This is because the proximity of the countries makes international travel more feasible, probably due to ease and lower cost.

APAC and Europe, for example, contain many countries. Both regions have the most yearly vacationers, while APAC alone holds the highest number of people who vacation at least 2-3 times a year.

In contrast, the U.S. has only two neighbouring countries and only 1 in 4 Americans take a vacation abroad yearly, with 55% saying they never travel abroad. 

Gender

  • Of regular vacationers (2-3 times per year), 58% are men and 42% are women.
  • Of semi-regular vacationers (at least yearly), 53% are men and 47% are women.
  • Of non vacationers, 53% are men and 47% are women.

From demographics to psychographics

Building a fuller picture of the modern vacationer means looking beyond demographics to discover what pressures encourage certain behaviors. It gives greater insight into their ambitions, prospects, self-perceptions and even shortfalls that are needed to build a complete persona. 

Attitudes

Within this cohort, we’ve picked out the most pertinent attitudes that have an impact from a commercial perspective which brands should take note of.  

Most distinctive attitudes of vacationers.

Experience-driven, ambitious and status-seeking

Looking closely at monthly and yearly vacationer attitudes reveals some interesting insights for brands and marketers. 

6 in 10 regular vacationers say they’d buy a product/service simply for the experience. 

Given their affluence and willingness to try other cultures, their preference for experiences comes as no shock. 

Both regular and semi-regular vacationers are brand-aware and value brand name over price. More than 6 in 10 say they tend to buy the premium version of a product, and a similar percentage describe themselves as brand conscious. 

This links to how both groups are more likely to fall within our Status Seekers¹ segment, which encompasses ambitious individuals who buy into brands that help boost their image and social standing.

This links to how both groups are more likely to fall within our ‘Status Seekers’ 1 segment, which encompasses ambitious individuals who buy into brands that help boost their image and social standing.

The desire to improve social status and gain peer respect is echoed in our affluent consumer profile, likely due to these groups having similar characteristics – for example, high levels of disposable income.

Motivations for vacationing in the UK and U.S.

Our recently published Mental health and wellbeing report explains that out of all treatment options available to reduce stressors and anxiety, the one UK and U.S. consumers were most willing to try was taking a wellness holiday/time off.  

In conjunction with this, and specifically in the U.S., ‘de-stressing’ (42%) and ‘escaping the everyday patterns of work’ (41%) are significant motivations for consumers to travel.

UK vacationers place greater emphasis on the experiential aspect of travelling, stating ‘gaining unforgettable experiences’ (40%), seeing friends and family (37%) and exploring new cultures (34%) as the foremost reasons for travelling.  

While the top 10 reasons for travelling are generally consistent, the order in which they appear differs greatly. 

When factoring these insights into marketing strategies, brands should note that while sentiments might be shared, regional discrepancies exist between regions as to which are most commonly felt.

The purchase journey

Personal recommendations

When it comes to a big-spend purchase like a vacation, consumers are likely to trust the people closest to them for recommendations and inspiration. 

For this reason, recommendations from friends and family play an important role, both in person (36%) and via private messaging apps (30%). The latter has become a hugely significant, often untapped channel called “dark social”, so called because of the difficulties tracking the private sharing of information. 

Nevertheless, private sharing is a pivotal part of the purchase funnel in travel and should be encouraged.

Traditional digital channels

For travel marketers looking to raise awareness of a brand or service, traditional routes remain the most effective. Search engines and TV ads are how vacationers are most likely to come across new brands or products. 

But digital routes are still effective at this early stage of the purchase journey – 28% of global internet users are discovering brands via ads seen on social media. This behavior is particularly prevalent in Latin America and the Middle East, where online consumers are relatively younger and more engaged with social media.

Brand research 

Knowing how and where modern vacationers carry out product and company research is key for any brand looking to target this group. 

Once a recommendation has been received, vacationers will likely head to travel sites like TripAdvisor to see recent reviews of a hotel or trip before they commit to purchasing; just under half do in the UK, dropping to 37% in the U.S. 

Social media has an important role to play here, too. 

In fact, 32% of UK and U.S. vacationers turn to social to research their holidays, with the highest figures among 25-34s (38%). 

But these figures still fall behind the tried-and-tested, more ‘traditional’ sources for research, such as friends and family who have experienced going to the desired location (44%), travel websites (43%) and search engines (42%). 

Purchase drivers

From our UK and U.S. vacationers survey only, the top 5 motivations to purchase are: 

  • Price of transport (54% UK, 45% U.S.) 
  • Convenient departure location (UK 45%, U.S. 33%) 
  • Convenient departure time (UK 42%, US 33%) 
  • Good review from other travellers (UK 40%, U.S. 44%)
  • Journey time (UK 36%, U.S. 28%)

Actioning the insights

With all this information at your fingertips, it’s possible to build a data-driven vacationer’s persona in granular detail, helping you reach the right people with the right message.

Demographics:

We know vacationers have a higher amount of disposable income, but they base their vacation purchase decisions on value. So while they’re readily prepared to part with cash for vacations, prices must remain competitive and value for money should be highlighted.  

Tailoring your brand’s messaging to millennials and Gen Xs, will increase brand affinity among this group who are highly connected and readily prepared to share recommendations with friends and family. 

Attitudes and motivations: 

Messaging should appeal to this cohort’s desire for status. 

They believe they deserve top tier brands and products, so ensure your offering is of a premium standard, but maintain competitive pricing.

In the UK, travelling is about the experience, whereas in the U.S., it’s more about de-stressing and getting away from work. The top motivations for travelling tend to differ between regions, so ensure you capture the correct sentiments using local data

Pushing them through the funnel

To raise awareness, leverage TV and search engine advertising, but most importantly, create an experience that encourages inter-personal recommendations.

Ensure you have a strong digital presence, so the information is readily available to these consumers when it comes to the research phase. Key areas to develop in this respect are social media pages, websites and review site reputation. 

Structuring your brand and its messaging around vacationer motivations, self-perceptions and key purchase drivers will ensure your message appeals to them on both a financial and emotional level.

click to access our full vacationers report

¹ Status seekers are those who somewhat/strongly agree with at least four of the following statements: I always strive to achieve more in life; I tend to buy the premium version of the product; I would consider myself to be much more affluent than the average; I am a brand conscious person; it is important for me to feel respected by my peers.