You might be thinking to yourself, “why does trip planning have seven stages to it?” Well, it does. We consumers go through many levels before we actually book a trip. And depending on your tenacity, time, or attention span, you might be one of the millions who throw in the towel and say “Forget about it! I’ll just stay home or go where I know.”
So let’s get into the nitty gritty of these seven stages. To sum it up, they are: Awareness, Research, Evaluation, Calculation, Scheduling, Booking, and Wrap-Up.
The awareness phase or the introduction phase is when you first learn about a destination. You may have heard a family member or friend speak about a new place. You may have seen coverage in the media, a story, or mention in a film. This awareness is what brought the destination front of mind and peaked your interest.
During this phase, you decided to take a journey down the rabbit hole. This is the time when you pull up Google and start doing some digging. You search for information on what to do, what to see, where to eat and what other travelers (ones you don’t know) are saying about the destination.
Once you decide that you like what you see, you go through a process of evaluation. You decide if the destination is a good fit for you and your family. At this point you start visualizing yourself there, doing all the things you found in the research phase.
Soon after you’ve started the emotional attachment, the right side of your brain kicks in. You consider the transportation and accommodation costs, evaluating whether it’s feasible for your budget. You run through some rough numbers in your head. Financial questions cross your mind: “Can I afford this ?” “How long do I need to save to pay for my trip?” “When is the earliest that I’ll be able to go?”
This is when you look at the best times to go, whether it’s during high season or off season. You see where it fits in your family’s schedule. You ask yourself: “How many days do I want to spend in this destination?”
Once you graduate from a mental commitment to a financial commitment, you make tangible moves. This is when you purchase transportation, reserve accommodations, arrange tours and pay for all the necessities involved with your trip.
You’re bookings are in place. Now is the time when you make a rough outline of your vacation. You draft what your days will look like, mapping out various points of interest to visit. You coordinate calendars to reflect departures and arrivals, tour dates, independent exploration, and your do-nothing days. In this phase, you check confirmations and documentation two to three times to make sure everything is in place.
And then you travel.
The trip planning process flows quickly for some people, yet drags for others. When we get overwhelmed, we tend to get discouraged. The result is we don’t move.
If you can identify the phase that causes the biggest headache, you can make progress. Ask a friend, spouse, or travel professional for advice to get you past the inertia. Only then can you move closer to booking your next adventure.