Travellers display diminished preferences for crowded venues, especially under high salience of Covid-19, according to new research released by Dongguk University.

However, this tendency reversed in consumers seeking unique, non-conforming experiences. These findings would help marketers reinvent their strategies to adapt to the new preferences of the traveller, such as promoting the notion of vacancy and unpopularity in advertisements for venues.

When choosing a travel and hospitality destination, one of the things we often consider is the size of the crowd it pulls in, as large crowd often indicate positive attributes, including popularity, high quality, and a feeling of assurance.

Now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, avoiding crowded spots has risen several ranks on the priority lists of consumers. Fearing the risks of contracting the virus, people have been avoiding urban settings and popular tourist destinations.

Based on the literature combined with empirical evidence from five survey-based experimental studies, the of researchers, including Associate Professor Jacob Chaeho Lee from Dongguk University also found that consumers who tend to seek sensation and have need for uniqueness show the opposite pattern. They also proved that this effect remains consistent across different travel and hospitality options regardless of the participants’ previous travel experiences.

Hailing these results, Dr Lee said: “Our findings show that tourism and hospitality firms need to re-evaluate and reinvent their marketing strategies to adapt to this new consumer psychology and behaviour. For example, firms may need to stop promoting the notion of crowding, popularity, or being trendy in the advertisements, social media, and review sites about their venues.”

Their findings also suggest that during the pandemic, firms need to create new opportunities to attract consumers who tend to seek high levels of sensation and uniqueness in their consumption.

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