Could behavioural science help make travel safer?

Safer Tourism Foundation has launched a behavioural science programme to help travel companies address the Holiday Head mindset that causes travellers to take risks on holiday they wouldn’t take at home.

Safer Tourism CEO Kathy Atkinson says:  “People behave differently on holiday, and until now, no one has been able to explain to me why.  Why do we forego the normal safety precautions on holiday…..ignoring that taxi seatbelt, walking home alone late at night, skiing after a boozy lunch, renting that moped or quadbike without asking too many questions?  There is a Holiday Head mindset that makes us take risks we’d never normally take at home, putting our own lives in danger and threatening the lives and wellbeing of others”.

Having spent the last two years studying for a Masters in behavioural science, Safer Tourism’s CEO believes that travel companies are missing a trick when it comes to managing and mitigating travel risks, both for customers and for their suppliers on the ground. Kathy is convinced that applying some of the lessons from behavioural science could unlock those travel-related behaviours that can seem so counter-intuitive, and that this could help travel companies prevent serious customer harm. It could also boost a stronger safety culture within destination management companies and other suppliers.

Kathy continues:  “Travel companies need to find a way to engage with travellers which keeps them safe without destroying the holiday idyll the marketing teams have worked so hard to create.  No matter how appealing the visuals or the soundtrack, information alone doesn’t stop us from doing foolish and dangerous things on holiday.  But if we understand the psychology that drives decision-making, we are in a much stronger position to influence this process, and to encourage travellers to behave in a way that will keep them out of harm”.  You can read Kathy’s introductory blog about the potential benefits of using behavioural science on our What’s New page.

The Safer Tourism Behavioural Science initiative was launched in November last year and aims to help travel companies understand what drives individual behaviours using behavioural science tools to unravel the traveller’s decision-making process.  The aim is not only to support travel companies’ risk-management strategies but also to ensure customer communications build on this deeper understanding of what makes us tick when we travel.

Contact to find out more.

Published on 22/03/23

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