International group travel and its influencing factors on location selection
International group travel is a key focus for TroopTravel attempts to inspire, optimize and coordinate. In our post yesterday we focused on factors which are influencing the meeting location destination selection for corporate groups. Today we want to share some experience on the same topic but with focus on the private angle of international group travel.
The key selection factors for corporate groups are Experience, Safety, Entry Requirements, Costs and Strategic Importance. Key factors for private groups are similar but different.
Let’s imagine again a situation where it is all about coming together rather than visiting a specific situation. You want to meet with a friend (or friends) from abroad. How do you approach this?
The bigger the group the more important is the offering of the location
It all starts with identifying the right people you want to invite for your trip. You may have one or two people in mind when you start the process but maybe during the planning phase, you actually add more people after discussions with your core travel team. There is a clear correlation between the number of travelers and the change in “why” are we coming together. A group of two may have different motivations of meeting up than a group of 3 or 4. Thus, the preference of the group changes. While a group of two may want to select a location with idea of building the relationship between the two travelers. That means, that the whole “why” of the trip is to have a more meaningful relationship after the trip than before the trip. That is the case for a couple but as well for best friends. If your best friends lives in a different city than yourself, your main objective of meeting him or her is to strengthen that best friend relationship even further. If you want to read more about this topic, there is a nice blog post on how to select the people for your group travel.
A group of 3 or 4 friends may have other priorities for a location because their “why”/ reason for the trip is slightly different. The relationship component may still be a strong one but tentatively, the creating joint memories aspect becomes more important. Thus, the expectations of a specific location changes from the 2 persons group. Offerings of the location become more important than for the best friend/couple trip.
One could almost conclude that when it comes to location selection for international group travel, the bigger the group is the more important is the unique offering of the location. An international group travel with 10 friends will have a stronger impact on the creating shared moments aspect than on the one-on-one relationship building.
Looking at corporate group travel the difference between relationship-building and experience-sharing may not be so strong. In the end, businesses will always be interested in the direct impact on the business of spending funds for a group of people coming together.
The importance of the location selection criteria are changing
After having established the group, what are key criteria private groups take into consideration when selecting a place to meet?
Experience: Independently whether your group has 2 people or 10, the experience factor is always important. The magnitude may differ depending on the group size as mentioned earlier. Experience can be everything and does not automatically mean entertainment. You can have a once-in-a-lifetime experience with your group in a secluded house somewhere in the Alps as well as in the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The interpretation of the experience-factor depends on the individual priorities of the travelers as well as about the history of the group. The looser the relationships among the group member, the higher the need for external entertainment. Except, the idea of the group travel is to specifically build the relationship among all group members.
The same applies for the group of two travelers. Depending on the level of the relationship, the importance of entertainment differs. Imagine travelling with your best friend whom you know since 20 years or traveling with a “Plan B” option (an acquaintance) because no one else from your inner circle of friends was able to join you on a trip. Since the relationship between those two travelers may not (yet) be too strong, you may want to plan a trip with more entertainment options. In the end you don’t want to be stuck on a trip with a person you don’t get along with.
Costs: Cost always has an important part in travel destination selection. It is not necessarily the total cost but more the subjective interpretation of value for money. For example, some locations are just expensive and you are ready to pay a premium price for the experience. You may not be ready to pay the same amount for a location which is considered to be cheap.
The cost aspect is in many cases closely linked to the experience level. Many travelers are willing to increase their budget if the expected increase in experience is exponentially higher than the cost.
Safety: Safety is a broad area. There are threats which are linked to wars, terrorism or kidnappings. Those considerations have a strong impact on the selection of the group travel location. There are, however, other security threads like pick pocketing, traffic, robberies which sometimes are consciously taken into account. If the local experience is close to a once-in-a-lifetime experience then a certain level of insecurity is accepted. Those insecurities are very often linked to the lack of knowledge on how to behave in the local environment.
Local touch: Over the last years, the access to a real local touch is very important for many travelers. The globalization has massively influenced this trend. 20 years ago, going to an exotic restaurant in your town was a way of traveling to a new culture. Independently, whether the food served there was actually tailored to the taste of host location and in many cases had nothing to do with the real cuisine of the country of origin. Just think about TexMex or any Asian cuisine. One could actually argue that the opening of a restaurant with a foreign cuisine was the first step of travel marketing.
Entry requirements: Differently than in business travel, entry requirements are not necessarily a killing argument for travel location selection. The perception as well is that the more difficult it is to get into a specific country (e.g. North Korea, Myanmar) the more authentic will be the experience. Thus, it is worth the effort to fight for your visa. Especially, if the “why”/purpose of your group travel is the sharing-experience concept.
Environment & Political Considerations: In our time, many people are environmentally and political more aware and responsive. Thus, people will avoid travelling to locations where they are not in agreement with either environmental aspects or political activities. Travelers are willing to pay a surcharge in order to travel environmentally neutral (as far as that is possible).
The way we pick locations for our international group travel has changed over the last decades. While in the past our preferences and travel locations where dominated by the supply, today we are in control of the whole value chain. Travel planning and dealing with when we are hit by travel fever has evolved.
The evolution of dealing with travel fever: 2o years ago we went to an exotic restaurant to let our mind travel. Today, we grab a plane and fly somewhere.