Industry Update
Opinion Article24 September 2009

Simple Identity

By Ian Yeoman, Associate Professor at Victoria University School of Management

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Futurist Dr Ian Yeoman talks about how the world economy has changed tourist identity and value patterns to something more simple which is accelerating the trend of inconspicuous consumption. During an economic slowdown, tourists tend to travel less, stay nearer home and seek simplicity such as value based holidays focusing on basic facilities, meeting locals, lots of free time and cheap in exotic locations throughout the world. This trend is accelerated in a scenario of falling incomes as a simple and functional product that will suffice. A simple identity means that offering advice becomes extremely important, whether its website's which advises travellers of the optimal time to purchase an airline ticket or price comparison technologies which are found on many.


Combined with simplicity is thrift, in which tourists trade down. The Pod Hotel in Manhattan (, where accommodation usually costs US $300 a night, the Pod offer single beds from US $89 a night including bunk beds. The use of technology and social media assists tourists in the search for bargains, whether it is the use of argumented technologies in smart phones or contact lens which view availability and prices as we view them in the street or recommendations from a network of friends on social media sites. Thrift and simplicity also combine to drive the trend of Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR), as incomes fall getting back to basics and developing human relationships is very important, and the most important aspects of tourists' lives are friends and relatives.

Tourists also have become canny at searching for bargains which economists call mercurial consumption, whether it is using price comparison software, or grabbing last minute offers from websites such as which offer last minute air travel deals to New Zealand consumers, or which offers diners the chance of discounted meals after 5pm that evening. Technology and social media network enabling purchasing strategies, further accelerate this trend of mercurial consumption.

Some trends even reserve, for example there have been many predictions about the end of the high street travel agent in the last decade, but in fact during times of economic slowdown, when tourists are trying to unravel complexity and give up excess, they go back to travel agencies to reduce choice through an efficient filtering process and maximise time management online booking services.

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Ian Yeoman is the world's only professional crystal ball gazer or futurologist specializing in travel and tourism. Ian learned his trade as the scenario planner for VisitScotland, where he established the process of futures thinking within the organisation using a variety of techniques including economic modelling, trends analysis and scenario construction. In May 2008, Ian was appointed an Assoc. Professor of Tourism Management at Victoria University, He is a popular speaker at conferences and was described by the UK Sunday Times as the country's leading contemporary futurologist.

Ian has a PhD in Management Science from Napier University, Edinburgh and a BSc (Hons) in Catering Systems from Sheffield Hallam University. Previously, Ian was Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality Management at Napier University and University College, Birmingham. He has extensive experience within the hospitality industry, for which he was a hotel manager with Trusthouse Forte.

Ian has received a number of awards in recognition of his research including his appointment as a Honorary Professor of Tourism Management at Stirling University and the Mike Simpson Award from the Operational Research Society.

More details about Ian and futurology in the travel industry can be at

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