Within the tour operator business, the customers might be differentiated into different segmentation groups. Guidelines should be followed so the different homogeneous customer groups are measurable, substantial, accessible, differentiable and actionable. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)
Most tour operators do not differentiate customers but specialize on a certain location. Research has shown that different target markets have certain values to a company. Therefore, because of differentiation tour operators can specify their target market and focus on their personal and individual needs and wants to increase customer engagement and purchasing.
Finding the most effective categorization from the whole population is one of the greatest challenges (Peelen & Beltman, 2013) but for this blog the travelers will be categorized into 4 categories: Business travelers, Leisure travelers, Families/Groups and Special needs travelers.
According to Julie Dent (Customer Journey Mapping: A Walk In Customers’ Shoes, 2013) Business travelers have the most importance in the tourism business, as the fix costs are relatively low, no extra services are required and these travelers usually have policies and contract that binds them to one certain tour operators. However, Business travelers have the highest expectations and a higher number of important elements within their travel. Following are the Leisure travelers, which can be share mainly the same aspects as the Business travelers. Though the expectations of Leisure travelers are lower, they still find a big number of elements important during their stay. However, they usually also have more options than any other target group. Families, Groups and Special Needs travelers are easier to satisfy within their travels, this could be because the availabilities for those travelers are limited.
Due to the different wants, needs and expectations of the customers the value of the customer to the tour operators shift. To integrate certain target markets more within the tour operating industry many businesses started to concentrate on the target markets undervalued by big firms. Those tour operators can be found on different online sites such as Disability Travel Agents (2015) or Ambrose (2008).
Furthermore great satisfaction in this specialized kind of field also offers greater possibilities for the marketing and customer engagement. Justin Skeesuck is bound to a wheelchair and widely known for his inspirations and instructions for disabled travel. On his facebook page he posts regularly about his trips to different places and gives advise to other disabled travelers. (Skeesuck, n.d.) This also includes his experiences travel agencies.
Especially in todays world, where traveling has become very easy, travelers with special needs and bigger groups seek for tour operators with experience and knowledge. If managing a company with a good image and reliable tours for a certain customer segment, those travelers are more likely to stay with one company and to recommend it other of their own field. This can also take affect when a tour operator concentrates on business or leisure travelers, but the choices for those travelers are growing fast and they might not be that easy to keep with one sinlge company.
Ambrose, J. (2008). Tour Operators. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from DisablesdTravelers.com: http://www.executiveclasstravelers.com/1/tour_operators.htm
Dent, J. (2013). Customer Journey Mapping: A Walk In Customers’ Shoes. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from http://www.ascendforairlines.com/sites/default/files/article_0.pdf
Disability Travel Agents. (2015). Travel Agents & Tour Operators. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from TravelGuide.org: http://www.travelguides.org/travelagents.html
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (Vol. 2). Boston: Pearson Education Limited. Retrieved September 23, 2016
Skeesuck, J. (n.d.). The Disabled Traveler. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedisabledtraveler/about/?entry_point=page_nav_about_item&tab=page_info