In general, once the decision to take a leisure trip is made, there are three simple decisions involved:
- where to go
- how to get there
- where to stay
Yet, the consumer travel planning process can be quite complex, depending on the purpose or occasion of the trip (i.e., a vacation for fun and entertainment versus a visit to a hometown or a family visit, etc.), as well as the travel components involved (i.e., air travel, a hotel stay, a rental car, etc.).
Depending on these choices, further decisions include choosing a specific airline and accommodation, as well as choosing various trip activities. All decision-making is influenced by a variety of factors, such as how much the consumer can or wants to spend on the trip and the travel companions involved.
With so many choices available to travellers at each point in the decision-making process, consumers may or may not seek travel information from a variety of sources.
The stages have been identified for understanding the most common sequence in travel planning. In some instances, these could happen differently. In many cases, the stages may happen simultaneously or side by side (example: need recognition, logistics, setting limits).
- Need recognition is the first stage in the buyer decision process in which the consumer identifies a need. This need may be triggered by internal requirements within the family or among friends or by external stimuli such as exposure to a new product or advertising message.
- Information gathering is the stage in the process where the consumer is interested enough to search for more information. This interest usually encourages the customer to go in active search of information or may heighten their attention to relevant information sources including advertising. (Here it is important to understand the sources from which customers draw their information to influence the decision process). Accumulation of mental images about vacation experiences and modification of those images by further information happen here.
- Logistics and identifying the day to day requirements for such a trip is usually the next stage and this has a bearing on the duration of the leisure trip
- Setting limits is important to most leisure travellers except in the high-end luxury travel segment. This is influenced by a number of factors including the reason for travel and number of travellers as well as various demographic factors.
- Once sufficient information is gathered, the consumer moves into the evaluation of alternatives phase where they evaluate the options available.
- Generally, the consumer’s purchase decision will be to buy the preferred brand/solution but two factors can come between the evaluation of alternatives including the intention to purchase and decision making. The first factor is peer influence – the attitude and impact of other people who influence the purchase decision, for example, colleagues or family members. The second factor is unexpected situational factors such as availability, or finding some component of the product offering which does not meet their expectation, such as discovering a price increase after they saw it first.
- Actual travel experience follows and this is in turn complete with the sharing of memories and experiences from travel.
- Trip occasion tends to have more influence on the overall travel decision making processes than other influencers such as time and money.
- As indicated in the stages, buying decision process may start long before actual purchase and continue long after – so the focus on the various stages of the entire buying process is critical.
Most corporate travel is driven by necessity and is almost always an organisational requirement.
However, there are a number of other aspects which have a critical impact on the way in which this travel is undertaken and decided.
The way in which these factors influence corporate travel behaviour is best captured in a pyramid. The most important requirement, in this case, is to meet them, in this case, organisation which generates the reason for travel.
This is then followed by the needs during travel, perceived advantages of travel and other factors which influence travel.