The BHive



Times have changed since marketers lumped people together in life stages, with profiling the modern traveller now a sophisticated process driven by big data.

People are no longer what they seem. Or put more accurately, what you assume they are.

You might see grey hair and think ‘European river cruising’, or a pierced nose and midriff top and think ‘Indian yoga retreat’.

It’s time to think again.



The travel industry has now moved towards profiling that takes into account varied special interests, access and mobility, health and wellbeing, family and household structure, as well as things like attitudes towards sustainability and safety.

Much has been made of the baby boomer generation blowing the kids’ inheritance and, while this group is travelling in droves, they need to be segmented down across a number of pillars.

Take the 65 year old who has decided to run the New York Marathon, or the 70 year old who has decided that this is the year to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. These people don’t want to be marketed to like they have one foot in the grave.

They want to see themselves in the picture taking selfies with Masai Mara tribespeople or wrestling a New York pepperoni slice. The trick is, they see themselves – in their mind’s eye, at least – as being significantly younger and fitter than they may appear in real life. Let’s remember we’re talking to people’s beliefs and attitudes, not what they see in the mirror.

If you look at the imagery surrounding things like European River cruises, you will see plenty of sensible looking couples knocking back riesling and ogling Medieval castles.

But what these ads don’t show are the cashed up gay couples, the multi-generational groups of parents travelling with their parents and adult children, the solo travellers who are reluctantly coughing up single supplements and the special event groups who are there celebrating someone’s 60th.

Most travel marketing speaks to the middle of the bell curve but it’s at the outer edges where the opportunity lies to innovate and create real impact by connecting with the people everyone else is ignoring.



In The B-Hive’s recent Innovation white paper, titled The 7 Deadly Sins of Innovation, author Tammy Marshall identified the following mega trends affecting the travel industry:

Millenial mania

All eyes are on this demographic, not least because of their sheer size but also due to their carefree attitude, lust for life and digital lifestyle. Airlines are standing to attention as millennials become the fastest growing group of business class travellers.

Blurring lines

As we become even more integrated and reliant on technology, it is hard to see where one part of our lives starts and the other finishes e.g. work and play. This sees the rise of ‘bleisure’ travel and has spawned a whole raft of spaces in hotels that are designed to encourage social (and social media) interaction and local exploration.

Grey matters

Baby boomers continue to be a force to be reckoned with and slowly brands are finally engaging with them in the way they want.

Meaningful meandering

As people evolve and start asking big philosophical questions, so too does their desire to create authenticity in all aspects of their lives. One look at Instagram will tell you that people are all about freedom, beauty, adventure, peace and artistically arranged Buddha bowls. And kale. Lots of kale.

Mass tech

There’s no escaping the extent to which technology is pervading our lives and becoming second nature, included in almost everything we do on a daily basis. People ask questions using chatbots, make travel bookings from their laptop, and board with their smartphone. Keyless entry for hotel rooms, apps that do everything from order your room service to control your air-conditioning and lighting, gamification to score Frequent Flyer points and more. Tech is so embedded in travel that the days of picking up your tickets and visa from a travel agent are a bit like travelling by horse and buggy: a quaint historical kickback popular with Amish people.

Real experiential

More and more people crave authenticity and want their relationship with brands to be as experiential as possible. How do you make this work when behind the scenes super fund managers and property developers are putting the screws on to boost the bottom line? The days of the hardcore cash grab are over for brands that want to charge a margin above rock bottom. Brands need to romance their customers. Get to know them. Make them fall in love. And maybe – just maybe – form a lifelong bond.

The time has come to really care about and understand your customers. It’s OK to Facestalk people – they have come to expect it – but just don’t put people in any of the old boxes or you may never get them to come back out again.

To read more about the power of innovation and the pressing need to get to know your customers better, click here to read The 7 Deadly Sins of Innovation


  • Download The B Hive’s 7 Deadly Sins of Innovation & How to Avoid Them White Paper here.
  • Download The B Hive’s white paper on Collaboration in the Travel & Tourism Industry here.
  • Follow The B Hive on LinkedIn here.
  • Connect with our founder, Tammy Marshall on LinkedIn here.
  • Like us on facebook here.
  • Follow us on twitter here.
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