Originally published April 11, 2017
Updated March 26, 2023

As the tourism industry continues to advance, competition among businesses intensifies. To excel, you must understand your customers’ diverse needs and preferences.

This is where travel market segmentation comes in. This process divides a larger market into smaller groups of consumers with similar needs and characteristics.

Market segmentation is essential for travel and tourism businesses to effectively reach and engage with their target audience.

By identifying specific travel segments, such as solo travelers, adventure seekers, or luxury travelers, you can tailor your offerings and marketing messages to meet their unique needs.

In fact, a report by McKinsey & Company shows 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions.

This report indicates the increasing significance of market segmentation in the tourism industry. Companies that excel at demonstrating customer intimacy generate faster revenue growth rates than their peers.

In this blog post, I’ll explore the importance of market segmentation in tourism, why it’s important, and how you can use it to improve your marketing strategy.

What Is Market Segmentation in Tourism?

Market segmentation in tourism is the process of dividing the market into smaller groups of consumers with similar needs or characteristics. This helps tourism businesses tailor their offerings and marketing messages. Travel market segmentation also increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Why Is Market Segmentation Important in the Tourism Industry?

Travel market segmentation is a crucial strategy in the tourism industry. Travel segments divide customers into distinct groups based on their needs, interests, behaviors, and demographics.

Travel segments also help businesses tailor their marketing efforts and develop targeted products and services for each group. As a result, travel and tourism companies can maximize revenue and customer satisfaction.

Here are some key reasons why market segmentation is important in the tourism industry:

Helps businesses understand their customers: By segmenting the market, you can better understand your customers and create more personalized experiences and products.

Allows for targeted marketing: Customer segments help you create marketing messages and campaigns tailored to each unique group. This can increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and improve customer engagement.

Increases customer satisfaction: Offering products and services customized to your customers will likely satisfy their experience. This can lead to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth.

Boosts revenue: Creating targeted products and services that appeal to specific customer segments can increase revenue. You can attract and retain more customers, which improves profitability.

What Are the 4 Types of Traveler Segmentation?

There are several different ways to segment the travel market. The four main tourism market segments include:

  • Demographic segmentation in tourism: Dividing customers based on age, gender, income, education, and other demographic factors.
  • Geographic segmentation in tourism: Segmenting customers based on location, such as country, region, or city.
  • Psychographic segmentation in tourism: Dividing customers based on their lifestyle, interests, values, and personality traits.
  • Behavioral segmentation in tourism: Segmenting customers based on their behaviors and actions, such as travel frequency, spending habits, and travel motivations.

Using these travel segments, you can develop targeted marketing strategies, improve customer satisfaction, increase loyalty, and boost revenue.

For instance, a business that focuses on adventure travel may target customers with a high interest in outdoor activities and a willingness to take risks.

Some popular segment names for the travel and tourism industry are escapists, learners, planners, and dreamers.

What Are Examples of Market Segmentation in Tourism?

Here are five brief tourism market segmentation examples. They illustrate how businesses can tailor their offerings to specific customer needs.

  1. Hotel targeting business travelers by offering conference rooms and fast Wi-Fi.
  2. Tour company targeting adventure seekers by offering hiking and extreme sports packages.
  3. Cruise line targeting families by offering kid-friendly activities and childcare services.
  4. Luxury resort targeting customers with a high income and a preference for exclusive amenities and experiences.
  5. A destination marketing organization targeting retirees by promoting cultural events and attractions.

Businesses that leverage tailored travel segments gain a competitive edge in the tourism industry.

Seize the (Micro) Moment in Travel Market Segmentation

Market segmentation in tourism requires you to think critically about your target audience and how they move through the customer journey.

Often, tourism and travel market segments are created by one, or a combination, of the following:

  • Age / life stage (e.g., millennial, retiree)
  • Motive
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Type of travel (e.g., business, leisure, extended stay)
  • Geography

With online research easier and more portable than ever, we like to think about travel segments a little differently.

Travel brands and destination marketers should consider the moments your potential customers may jump online from their phone or computer—as the biggest marketing opportunity.

While the who still matters when you’re trying to reach an audience—the when is more vital than ever.

For example, think about how you planned your last vacation. If you were like most, you bounced back and forth between dreaming about and loosely planning your next getaway—zooming in on a destination and quickly bouncing around in search of inspiration only to zoom out and consider all the options yet again.

This quick spurt of research to answer an immediate need (usually turning to a search engine) has been coined “a micro-moment” by Google.

Such micro-moments represent a huge opportunity for destination marketing organizations and are the key to attracting and earning a savvy traveler’s consideration.

Often, we pull in focus groups to test our theories on user motivation and needs.


From on-paper prototypes and discussion groups to high-fidelity wireframes and user-experience videos—we pick from our bag of user-testing methods to ensure content and calls-to-action are placed in the best places possible.

How to Use Travel Segments in Your Marketing Strategy

What if your brand or location could be in front of your potential customers during the exact moments they are dreaming about getting away, planning their visit, and eventually booking their vacation? What content should you create at what moments?

Knowing how to leverage travel market segmentation and the power of micro-moments is the key to upping your travel industry marketing game.

It’s how you keep your messaging laser focused and your audience satisfied. As a result, your travel or tourism company will see increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue!

Market Segmentation in Tourism FAQ

Answers to common questions about tourism market segmentation.

Why Do We Segment the Tourism Market?

The travel market is far too large and diverse to reach effectively in one fell swoop. Tourism marketers use segmentation to understand customer needs better and allocate marketing dollars effectively.

Effective travel market segmentation is based on extensive quantitative research focusing on large numbers of people. Then grouping them based on shared characteristics such as:

  • Demographics
  • Behavioral patterns
  • Cognition ratings

Once identified, these groups are referred to as particular segments. You can target them with specific product offerings, services, and tailored marketing messages.

What Are the Components of the Tourism Industry?

There are six main components of tourism, each with sub-components. The six components of travel and tourism include attractions, activities, accessibility, accommodation, amenities, and transportation.

Travel Segments vs Personas: What’s the Difference?

Personas are used to encourage a design for real people with real needs. They break down the user’s context, needs, motivations, and pain points on a personal basis.

Travel segments aim to pinpoint and measure the size of different groups at a high level.

Market segmentation isn’t persona research. Sure, they’re very similar tools that group current and potential customers into manageable buckets. However, you can’t create a detailed buyer persona without first diving into market research.