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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Travel Needs

I recently came across this really good TED talk by Chip Conley - Measuring what makes life worthwhile. And that led me to read more about him. It turns out he organized his business strategy, at his boutique hotel chain “Joie de Vivre”, around Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He even wrote a book on the subject, “Peak” in which he writes “If we get it right at our boutique hotels, we don’t just satisfy our guests’ physiological, safety, social and esteem needs: We bring them an awareness of self-actualization.”


So, I’ve been thinking of how we can define the motivations for leisure travel and sort them into a hierarchy. And which are the motivations that TRVLbud seeks to fulfill?


Now, I’ll start with the assumption that all leisure travellers are seeking novelty. The only reason to leave home and go somewhere else is because you want to be in someplace different. Many classifications have been done based on the degree of novelty v/s familiarity that a traveller seeks. The popular “tourist v/s traveller” debate is also primarily hinged on the degree of novelty the subject seeks. But to whatever degree it is sought, novelty is the overarching goal of leisure travel.


So it’s the motivations other than novelty-seeking that make for a more interesting analysis. I’ve classified these motivations based on the kind of experiences the travellers seek. At the very basic level we have the “Enjoyable experiences”, then we have the “Immersive experiences” and finally at the top of the hierarchy are the “Transformational experiences”. The diagram below captures some of the experiences that fall under each category - just as examples of what I mean, and by no means a comprehensive list.

A great trip satisfies needs across all the levels. And the simpler we make it for travellers to meet the lower level needs, the more they get interested in the higher level needs. This is the basic mechanism behind the whole “experiential” travel trend (PS: “Experiential” travel is a misnomer in my opinion as all travel is about experiences - it’s only a matter of the kind of experiences being sought).


TRVLbud's goal is to help travellers move up the ladder by making it easier to satisfy needs at their current level (whichever that is). So a traveller who is seeking “enjoyable experiences” should find it so easy to find them that they automatically get interested in exploring “immersive experiences”, and so on. It does get harder as we move higher, but it’s worth the effort.


This is, of course, because we believe in the power of travel to make the world a better place. But not just any kind of travel - it’s the “transformational experiences” that have this ability. And we’re just doing our bit in helping travellers get there.

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