For Successful Customer Segmentation in the Travel Industry, Look Beyond Baby Boomers Vs. Millennials

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One of the biggest challenges in the digital travel industry today revolves around segmentation. We're not talking simple demographic lines here, but rather creating meaningful data sets which marketers can truly work from. Advanced segmentation empowers marketing teams to create better and more relevant personas and use them to conceptualize and deploy more detailed and personalized advertising campaigns.

Beyond Generational Divides

Read any marketing blog for long enough and you will almost inevitably eventually come across an article about how to market product or service XYZ to Millennials. While it's true that Millennials are an important demographic -- these are the people now in their twenties and early thirties who are deep within the job market and spending large amounts of money on consumerism and experiences -- they are not the be all and end all of a business's concerns.

When it comes to travel, there's a deeper segmentation to be leveraged than simple generational divides. While it may be true that certain age groups are more likely to favor certain types of travel, the lines are becoming ever more blurred. In fact, the modern travel business should go beyond segmenting its audience along lines of age alone and incorporate other age-agnostic factors specific to behavior and interest as well.

Take Barcelona as an example. Let's think about some of the different reasons one might visit this beautiful Catalonian destination.

  • Architecture - The wonderful structures of Antoni Gaudi are a big draw for couples and individuals looking for culture and romance, and who want to indulge in quality walking sightseeing tours. They'll spend their time around the Gothic Quarter, La Rambla, La Sagrada Familia, and more.
  • Food - Barcelona is famed for its wide range of internationally-renowned restaurants, which also provide a massive inspiration to visitors. These people want to sample as much of the wonderful food on offer as possible and will access the city's public transport systems (taxies, trains, etc.) to get around.

It's easy to see these two segments could easily apply to any age group, which demonstrates how erroneous it can be to fall into the trap of thinking segments must be focused along generational lines alone.

Changing Gender Roles

Behavior and specific-interest segments are not the only ones available to digital travel marketers.

Take business travel, for example. In the past, this market would have been dominated by middle-aged men, but that's changing rapidly. Millennials took an average of 7.4 business trips in 2017, compared to 6.4 for Generation X, and 6.3 for Baby Boomers, according to research from Skift. However, the far more interesting change is that which has developed between genders.

Female business travelers control 60% of the wealth in this market, influence 85% of purchasing decisions, and are responsible for 58% of online sales.

As such, the business travel segment, which would once have been designed to market directly to middle-aged men, now needs to draw its lines differently. Marketing must now ensure its promotional efforts are directed to attract both genders and a broad spectrum of ages. Stereotypes of the powerful man in a suit are now painfully outdated and must be consigned to the trash can in favor of new, progressive segments.

The Family

With people waiting longer to start a family (or deciding not to start one at all) and focusing instead on careers, the nature of the family demographic has also changed.

Whereas family holidays would have once been marketed at people in their twenties, it's now equally likely that couples in their thirties and forties will be striking out on their first child-focused vacations. To say "couples" may also be a mistake, as the family segment must also include single parents as well. It must also be borne in mind that the traditional cisgender male/female dichotomy is also not the only option available, with homosexual and trans couples also raising families and looking for exciting travel experiences.

Final Thoughts

These are just a handful of the new segments which must be considered for the travel industry as we move into 2019. As our society becomes more diverse, inclusive, and equal, marketers must consider segments which include ethnicity, religion, nationality, and so many more factors besides. While generational divides will always favor certain products and experiences, the picture now is much deeper and more interesting.

Better and more meaningful segmentation is set to be a hot topic at Digital Travel 2019, taking place in April at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, CA.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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