Plog’s Psychographic Classification of Tourists and Travel Motivation

Plog’s Psychographic Classification of Tourists and Travel Motivation are given below:

Tourism is an intangible product i.e., the business of selling dreams by the providers of tourist services and purchasing experiences by the tourist. Since the goods and services provided to tourists are really inputs to the process of producing the experience, demand for these is derived from demand for tourism as a whole.

In view of the enlarging spatial and characteristic diversity among destinations, it becomes all the more significant and rather imperative to classify destinations so as to understand clearly the notions of tourism psychology and travel motivation.

Again, tourists are no more homogeneous than destinations and as experiences are basically of a psychic nature, motivations for travel need to be considered by classifying people according to psychographic types.

One such model, and one of the first attempts to provide a framework within which to analyze tourist behaviour, was developed by Dr. Stanley C. Plog in 1972. Plog classified the U.S. population along a psychographic continuum – ranging from the psychocentrics at one extreme to the allocentrics at the other and most falling in the mid-centric class in the term “psychocentric” is derived from psyche or self-centered, meaning preoccupied with oneself or one’s own affairs i.e., centering of one’s thought or concerns on the small problem areas of one’s life.

Allocentric, on the other hand, has its origin in the core word alio, meaning, “varied in form”. An allocentric person, thus, is sociable, informal and self-confident. He is characterized by a considerable degree of adventure and an enthusiasm to get as far as and experiment with life.

For the allocentric, travel is a means to express inquisitiveness and satisfy curiosity. By virtue of intensive study, Plog further revealed an interesting phenomenon. While the people at the upper end of the income spectrum were found to be mainly allocentrics, those with the lower income levels were psychocentrics, expected to be seeking for the respective type of destinations.

However, such a relationship may not be that categorical i.e., severe economy constraints may falsify the classification in terms of psychographics. In other words, it may be erroneous as well as illogical to infer that an individual belonging to the budgetary class is always likely to be psychocentric.

Again, Plog agrees that only a little positive correlation between middle income groups and psychographic types is indicated. That is, for this category, income level and psychographics are not closely related and because of relatively higher income, people can choose the preferred type of holiday.

Having given the types of destinations and types of tourists, an explicit, direct linkage between the two classifications does not take into account the significant fact that individuals travel with diverse motivations at different times.

The development of a systematic linkage capable of forecasting travel patterns precisely depends upon two factors – a tourist may have different reasons in different travels, and a particular holiday/ destination is capable of providing multifarious travel experiences suitable to a large number of tourists, depending on the manner in which the tour is designed. In other words, such a linkage warrants the consideration of each trip in isolation and an exploration of the motivations prompting the same.

As suggested in the above figure, travel motivations relate types of tourists (psychographics) and types of destinations in two ways – One, the primary link in terms of tourist flow and tourist satisfaction that will follow when a visitor is guided to the befitting and felicitous type of destination.

For maximum tourist satisfaction, a clear understanding of tourist’s psychological profile and, hence, his/her travel motivations for that specific trip is required. Once these are known, the appropriate types of tour packages (escorted or unescorted, fully planned or pliable), the types of destinations and the types of travel experiences most suited to tourist’s needs and liable to yield uttermost contentment can be recommended.

Two, the secondary link concerns promotion, development, and marketing of tourism in appropriate target markets. It is also true that the knowledge of travel motivations is essential in planning advertising and other promotional strategies.

A comprehension of the types of tourists and travel motivations of such markets will, on the one hand, enable the industry to perceive the types of environment and services to be offered at the destination, and will underlie the message content of the promotion campaign, on the other.