Skift Take

Keeping visitors loyal is often a complex task for destinations. Understanding those travelers who are most likely to go back to places they’ve visited is a crucial component of this equation.

At Skift Research, customer loyalty comes up as a constant challenge for the travel brands we work with and write about. It is well recognized that loyal customers cost less to market to and often spend more with a business than new customers. They are also reliable sources of word-of-mouth marketing. For destinations, however, creating loyal customers is more complicated.

While destination marketers understand that repeat visitors are a vital part of their tourist population, in some places even making up the majority of the population and its expenditure, there is still much uncertainty about who repeat tourists are and what they desire when they travel.

The latest report from Skift Research, U.S. Repeat Visitation Survey 2018, sheds some light on repeat tourists and how they differ from tourists who do not return to destinations. Through analyzing our newest proprietary survey data and insights from expert interviews, we look deeper at motivations for repeat visitation, activities during repeat visitation, and how returning to a destination impacts a traveler’s attitudes about a destination. We also look at how repeat tourists vary by age and income bracket, and then present side-by-side comparisons of repeat and non-repeat tourists.

Finally we look at how the number of destinations repeat travelers have returned to in the last five years provides a more detailed view of repeat visitor behavior and attitudes. With this information, travel marketers can better understand what matters to travelers who are most likely to return to vacation destinations in order to communicate with them most effectively.
Last week we launched the latest report in our Skift Research service, U.S. Repeat Visitation Survey 2018.

Below is an excerpt from our Skift Research Report. Get the full report here to stay ahead of this trend.

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What Do They Do When They Go Back?

They try new activities
When returning to destination, people tend to expand the activities they participate in. Only 27% of repeat tourists said they did the same activities as they did the first time. The other 73% incorporated at least some different activities into their vacations when they returned to a destination.


When it comes to specific activities, trying new food and drinks and shopping are the two activities the most repeat travelers report doing more of when they return to a destination.


These particular activities are key because they directly impact the local destination economy by benefiting businesses that aren’t necessarily travel or tourism specific, but are part of the local way of life. A number of studies by travel and tourism organizations, as well as academic studies, have found this trend in activities among repeat travelers as well. A study by Chinese internet giant Baidu found that Chinese tourists who have traveled to Japan more than one time tend to spend more money there. They posit that when they become more familiar with the country, they in turn gain more confidence in the products produced and/or sold there.

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This is the latest in a series of research reports aimed at analyzing the fault lines of disruption in travel. These reports are intended for the busy travel industry decision maker. Tap into the opinions and insights of our seasoned network of staffers and contributors. Over 200 hours of desk research, data collection, and/or analysis goes into each report.

After you subscribe, you will gain access to our entire vault of reports, analyst sessions, and data sheets conducted on topics ranging from technology to marketing strategy to deep-dives on key travel brands. Reports are available online in a responsive design format, or you can also buy each report a la carte at a higher price.

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Tags: consumer insights, destination marketing, destinations, skift research

Photo credit: Repeat travelers exhibit unique behaviors and preferences from non-repeat travelers. Here, tourists take pictures of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Dom J /

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