5 questions for
Professor Dr Bernd Eisenstein
We spoke with Professor Dr Bernd Eisenstein from the West Coast University of Applied Sciences about the changes in bus tourism and how new target groups can be reached.
How is travel evolving?
Changes in travel behavior are usually consequences of societal changes. The current central forces driving fundamental change include climate change and its consequences, as well as the digitization of almost all areas of life. The latter will permeate all stages of the customer journey and change many things for tourism providers and consumers. Closely related to climate change is an emerging change in values in society: spatial mobility is no longer viewed exclusively in a positive light. The era of social glorification of spatial mobility is coming to an end.
How are the demands of the younger generation changing compared to previous generations?
The young generation demands comprehensive consideration of the above-mentioned social trends by tourism providers. "Digital Readiness" or "Digital Ability" of the tourism providers represent a hygiene factor for large parts of the young generation - a corresponding offer is simply assumed, the lack of which leads directly to competitive disadvantages. It is to be expected that providers in this area will be exposed to an inflation of demands in the future. The shift toward sustainable travel is apparently taking place more slowly. Although parts of the younger generation are more critical of the consequences of travel, there is also an attitude-behavior gap in this age cohort with regard to sustainable tourism.
What prospects do you see for coach tours in Germany?
Various market surveys show that, in terms of volume, one in five to one in four of the population in Germany are keen on coach travel, regardless of the destination. However, that interest varies in different parts of the population.
How can operators attract new types of customers?
In my opinion, in many cases there are still insufficient efforts being made to target individual market segments using contemporary methods, even though they are not only scientifically proven but can also be practically applied in an easy manner. There is often still a need to professionally fine-tune the selection, in order to find the right customers for the company in question. An obvious solution would be to switch from identifying types of customers as such to looking at them together with tour themes and to combine that with examining source market potential and media data.
Which destinations could particularly benefit from a thriving bus industry?
As a tourism destination, basic success factors for being able to benefit from the bus industry include attractiveness as a destination, accessibility and bus-related infrastructure and services. For some time now the industry has focused more on offering services that emphasize the travel experience as the reason for choosing coach travel rather than using it merely to get to one’s destination. I consider that a worthwhile pursuit.