Back in the good old days, a successful travel agency had a good location, a good client base, excellent relationships with suppliers (which included a large amount of alcohol) and a solid “gut feel”.

“Gut feel” was something you are born with, a knack you had for things. Successful travel agents read the buying signals, products and destinations worth following up, opportunities they could make money from.

My dad was awesome at this in his various business’ and later I realised it was his collective decades of customer interaction that had refined his emotional intelligence to a strong “gut feel”. It wasn’t fluke, it was experience.

Big data and analytics, facilitated with buying patterns shifting from retail agencies to online travel agencies, changed a lot of this. Data is being gathered on user metrics across Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail and so on. If someone keeps mentioning the word “Bali” in their emails, advertise Bali to them. You don’t send information on Contiki Tours to the grey army.

Now we have “Pshcyographics”. Oh yes, that’s right.

Does this mean slightly crazy looking pictures drawn by unhinged travel extremists on toilets in Paris by “Banksy” or could be the next marketing trend travel agents need to understand. Wikipedia says…

Psychographics is the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles. Because this area of research focuses on interests, attitudes, and opinions, psychographic factors are also called IAO variables.Psychographic studies of individuals or communities can be valuable in the fields of marketing,[2] demographics, opinion research, prediction, and social research in general.”

Psychographics can be seen as an equivalent of the concept of “culture” when it is used for segmentation at a national level.

An awesome example came in the federal election of the “hipster proof fence”. Very little demonstrates this point better than this graphic showing green and labour votes within the one electorate.

It reads like an emotional overlay on big data.

When a person or group’s psychographic make-up is constructed, this is called a “psychographic profile”.

Psychographic profiles are used in market segmentation as well as in advertising.


Some categories of psychographic factors used in market segmentation include:


-activity, interest, opinion (AIOs)




Psychographics has already made its way into the way travel is being sold. I think if you look at the agile, fast mover companies of recent years, especially those like G adventures, it’s probably central their marketing strategies.


Here is psychographics in action:

-Volunteer tourism

-Green tourism

-Working holidays

-Medical tourism

-Small groups

In its simplest perspective, it’s just another level of understanding your clients and playing the odds on what it is they like and where to advertise to them.

In its most complex analysis, the opportunity for businesses, including the very small business of the ma and pa agency, to step back and think how they are pitching their key messages and in doing so, delivering niche value to people.

Do you have any experience from “psychographic profiling’?