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A Hierarchy of Travel Needs - Page 2 of 6 - Jim Menge, Traveling Man

Level 1: The existential need to travel

Level 1 ExistentialChanging homes. Changing towns. Changing states. Changing countries or provinces. Changing continents. Changing a residence has easily been one of the most common forms of travel undertaken by humans since the dawn of our species. While certainly not a growth sector for the travel industry, per se, a recent segment of existential travelers would be people migrating into Europe or the US and Canada. And the person who is moving to a new country, and may be taking a family, has very different needs than the same people who might only visit the country on vacation.

My family moved from Greece to the US in the late 1950s, then back to Greece in the early 1960s and back again to the US a few years later. My mother still talks about the immigration effort, traveling while pregnant with three children and an infant (me), not speaking English well and the multi-day, many-stop experience. Many of us are not aware that this same experience happens today, every day all around the world.

You could also think of this as a need for movement. The impulse to move resides at the very core of our identity as a species. As an industry, we don’t put much thought into this level. We prefer to apply the label of “travel” once a person leaves the boundaries of their hometown.

This tier also represents travel that is necessary for survival. Even the most entrenched homebody will move if forced by extreme weather, or conflict. And I doubt that anyone is looking to build a business on this type of traveler.

My encouragement to you is that you create mental space for this type of traveler. Once you do that, you may find that you can provide experiences that meet their needs in a way that is distinct from any other tier of need. As with any customer who feels “seen,” “heard,” and “met,” they will thank you and trust you in the future.

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