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Psychology Of Travel Study Reveals That 88% Of UK Hoteliers Miss Chance To Fuel Guests’ Holiday Excitement
Only one in eight UK hoteliers prioritise guest excitement before their stay

UK hoteliers are underexploiting the chance to build holidaygoers’ sense of excitement at the time of booking, a TripBarometer study by TripAdvisor™ has revealed today.

The findings were revealed at the launch of the latest instalment of TripBarometer, focusing on the Psychology of Travel. This is the fourth edition of the biannual study, conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor by independent research firm Ipsos.

TripBarometer is the world’s largest traveller and accommodation survey1 highlighting country, regional and global travel trends according to more than 53,000 travellers and hoteliers around the world, including 3,448 respondents from the UK. The TripBarometer: Psychology of Travel report examines the motivations behind travellers’ holiday choices, traveller emotions at the various stages of a holiday and the post-trip impact of travel.

The traveller journey: traveller emotions at the various stages of a trip

This edition of TripBarometer examined which emotions travellers were most likely to feel at the five stages of travel: booking, arrival, during the stay, departure and back at home. As part of the study, hoteliers were also asked what actions they took at throughout the traveller journey to relate to their guests.

Nearly two thirds of UK hoteliers (62%) say their main priority is to ensure a smooth and efficient process at booking.

Yet, only one in eight (12%) of UK hoteliers say their priority is to provide guests with local information about their destination at the time of booking, while the same percentage say their priority is to make guests feel as though the holiday has already begun.

However, for a majority of global travellers the main emotion felt at the booking stage is one of excitement (54%), suggesting there is more UK hoteliers could be doing to take advantage travellers’ feelings of excitement right from the start by providing local information about the destination and beginning to build a relationship with the guest before they even arrive.

The research found that excitement peaks during lead-up and arrival, with travellers feeling most fulfilled upon returning home from a vacation.

Two thirds of UK hoteliers (65%) encourage their guests to write online reviews following their stay, and to recommend the hotel to family and friends. Furthermore, those UK hoteliers who see a guest return rate of over 50% are more likely to prioritise ‘beginning to build a lasting relationship’ (39%) during the lead up to a guests stay.

“The results of the TripBarometer highlight that hoteliers can stand out from the competition by providing unique and enriching experiences. And while it's no surprise that travellers tend to be excited when they book and prepare for a trip, hoteliers are missing an opportunity to capitalise on that excitement and begin building a lasting relationship with their guests. Only a minority of hotels are currently making this a priority, but those who do also tend to receive more repeat guests,” said Marc Charron, president, TripAdvisor for Business.

The Psychology of Travel: What motivates people to travel

Ipsos’ extensive research in various sectors has led to an understanding of the different psychological needs and motivations that impact human behaviour across different settings and scenarios. In order to delve into the psychology of travel for this study, traveller respondents were asked to select two statements that best represented what kind of experience they wanted from a vacation.

The statements each relate to one of eight motivational categories:

Motivational category

Pairs of statements about how travelers want to feel on vacation relate to each motivational category


Liberation =

Enjoy life to the fullest


Let go and feel carefree

Immersion =

Immerse myself in local culture


Meet new people & make memories

Relationships =

Enjoy moments with loved ones


Strengthen existing relationships

Harmony =

Restore sense of harmony/balance


Feel looked after/taken care of

Order =

Time out to think & regain control


Feel organized / avoid surprises

Enhancing perspective =

Unique & interesting experiences


Enrich understanding of the world

Luxury =

Have enviable experiences


Feel special and spoiled

Excitement =

Enjoy a sense of exhilaration


Challenge myself to try new things


The results of this approach reveal that ‘enhancing perspective’ is the primary motivation for holiday choices for the majority of travellers (71%), followed by the feeling of liberation (62%). Order and harmony are the least important motivations for travellers, with only one in five (21%) falling into these categories globally.

Hotelier respondents were also asked to select statements that best matched how they wanted their guests to feel as a result of their stay. Intriguingly, nine out of ten UK hoteliers (86%) want to provide their guests with a sense of ‘harmony’, despite this not being in line with most travellers’ motivation for going on holiday.

However, nearly half of UK hoteliers are also keen to provide an experience that offers a sense of luxury (49%) and immersion (44%).

“For this wave of TripBarometer, we wanted to gain a more multi-dimensional view of travellers, so we explored their motivation and feelings from both a personal experience perspective as well as how they would like to be perceived by others. It is fascinating that the findings have confirmed an old Chinese saying ‘traveling a thousand miles is better than reading a thousand books’,” commented Simon Atkinson, Assistant Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI, “In an age where information is at people’s fingertips and a large proportion of people are connected 24/7, the fact that they are still looking to enhance their perspectives on holiday says that the internet cannot replace the experience you get when you are at your destination.”