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Why Are People Traveling… and Where are They All Going?

There is no short answer as to why people travel. If, like me, you have noticed the preponderance of people traveling lately – people who haven't, in the past, fit any of the typical travel demographics for whatever the reason – you might have found yourself pondering this very question? Mothers with young babies, families from all over the country, elderly couples, teens and young adults, and the few dedicated business travelers I encounter. Thanks largely to technology, the sheer volume of people traveling has increased more rapidly than in any previous decade. Still, there's more to it than saying that it's just technology spurring this surge in adventurers.

More so, where the heck are all these people going? The airports are packed, the roads are jammed, and with airline ticket and gas prices at an all-time high, what the heck is going on here? It seems like more people are traveling than ever before! Well – they are! I suggest this is not a complicated question, and there's a simple three-word answer that shouldn't surprise anyone. "Because they can!"

There's a bit more to it than that, and to really dig into it would take pages, but that's it - a true shift in the way people think! Or is it?

Travel has become a viable reality for many for the first time in their lives. Perhaps more accurately, for the first time in how they approach planning for their lives. By opting to no longer be tied to the confines of a physical location and long having accepted corporate fealty as an illusion, people are exploring the value and opportunity for travel in more significant numbers than ever before. I recently read an interesting travel blog post, Why Do People Travel – Reasons People Travel in 2022, which proposed 50 top reasons people are out there and exploring the world. It's an interesting article, and all the reasons provided are pretty legitimate, but they are all secondary reasons, ancillary to the reason I give above – because they can!

Why is it important to acknowledge this? Well, simply, if you are an entertainment destination, a Disney World, a Universal Studios, a Sea World with a marketing plan, and you don't realize the basic reason why more people see travel as a viable part of their future than ever before, you are going to waste an awful lot of energy trying to define the target demographic and apply somewhat misguided focus in an attempt to attract visitors to your location – probably getting it at least partly wrong! The pandemic lockdown brought this into sharp focus, and regardless of the reason, "Because we can't" was an international refrain.

In the past, marketing to the specifics of target demographics might have meant the difference between a healthy and a break-even year. Now, as many in this country and worldwide adopt the 'nomad' approach to travel, marketing and sales strategies must be expanded to include this new way of thinking. To capture people's attention who may be 'in the area' but might otherwise not have known that you exist! What offerings can you put on the table in addition to appealing to the wants of your traditional target audience? What other reasons can you give people to spend their cash – and more importantly, their time – at your destination?

Understanding the enigma of 'because I can' will be essential for the operator if you hope to attract visitors in the future. This new type of 'groupthink' is a reason to expand and build on your current strategies, adding ancillaries to your existing game plan rather than becoming increasingly focused on target data and what our go-to 'tools' might have told us in the past. If you are interested in groupthink, join me for my weekly musings at Insights from The Road as I look at the emergence and impacts of human nature in the new normal. 'Because I can…' will be an interesting topic of discussion – for many reasons.

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