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Traveller Insight Through Customer Conversations

If you’ve ever travelled, you know that we all have different quirks when it comes to being on the road. When visiting a new city, there are some folks that pull out the map at the beginning of the day and plan every turn and twist of their walkabout. There are others that just head out the door of the hotel and meander.

These differences might not seem big but they affect how destinations and marketers reach and interact with customers. Just as there are personality types, there are traveler types. Destination Canada has identified these psychographic types as EQ (Explorer Quotient) profiles and makes them available globally and by country.

Here are the Explorer Types that Canada currently targets globally and domestically:

  • Free Spirits are highly social and open-minded. Their enthusiasm for life extends to their outlook on travel. Experimental and adventurous, they indulge in high-end experiences that are shared with others.
  • Cultural Explorers are defined by their love of constant travel and continuous opportunities to embrace, discover and immerse themselves in the culture, people and settings of the places they visit.
  • Authentic Experiencers are typically understated travellers looking for authentic tangible engagement with destination they seek, with a particular interest in understanding the history of the places they visit.
    • Personal History Explorers are primarily defined by their desire to connect to their own cultural roots – and do so by travelling in comfort, style and security.
    • No-Hassle Travellers are cautious, dutiful and reserved people who seek secure group travel that allows them to escape from the duties and obligations of everyday life.
    • Rejuvenators are family-oriented people who travel with others to escape from the stresses of everyday life to get pampered and indulge themselves.
    • Gentle Explorers are primarily defined by their reluctance to venture far beyond the comfort of home and travel “ one condition”, demanding the very best and most comfortable environments for themselves when they must do so.

While the EQ profiles are rich in information, why not go a step further?  Talk to your customers. In fact, I suggest asking each visitor a few quick questions, as often as you can:

  • Where are they from?
  • Why they visited your town?
  • How they found out about your business? (or So, did you just see our sign, or did you find us some other way?)
  • What made them choose to visit/call you? (See if you can figure out what kind of EQ profile they are).
  • If they are from out of town, why they chose the dates that they did?

It won’t feel like a survey; it will feel like a friendly conversation. One of the most rewarding aspects about being in the tourism business is learning about other parts of the world, even while you are home. People that travel are generally interesting, and they want to learn what you, as a local, do as much as you are curious about their lives at home.

After they leave, you can record your observations. A year from now, you may not remember the exact name of the family from England that came in early March but, with your notes available, you will be able to use the information they gave you – that the school system there is more stringent about not pulling children from class during non-holidays – and that you should target your marketing efforts toward their spring break.

Another bonus: Conversations can actually enhance the customer experience, and make people feel like they’ve made a friend along the way. It also tells them you’re open to chatting, in case they want to ask you any questions about what to do, or where to go next. Maybe they’ll reward you with a nice review online.

The Take Away…

Getting to know your customers doesn’t have to be work. Enjoy the conversations, reflect, and repeat.  Soon, you’ll find that you have insight into why and when your customers visit. Even better, you’ll use that information again and again.


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About the Author - Ginny Holtby
Ginny is an experienced marketing consultant and strategist. She was a member of the senior management team at Banff & Lake Louise Tourism and played a leadership role in developing their five-year strategy and revenue forecast. Ginny has a deep understanding of the global tourism landscape and is always curious about evolving tourism trends and innovations. With a B.A. from McGill University and an M.B.A. from the University of Alberta, Ginny has provided strategic consulting services for over a decade. While consulting, she also taught Marketing and Business Economics part time in the School of Business at the University of Alberta for eight years.