In a previous blog post, we explored how one of the most successful EEG departments in the nation borrows customer satisfaction tips from the hospitality industry.

In this post we’re going to flip that notion. A new study, published in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, suggests there are several ways that EEG studies can inform tourism and hospitality marketing.

How Neuromarketing Works

While the application of EEG in tourism and hospitality is “still in its infancy,” analyzing customer brain activity in business management has been around since the 1970s.

Neuromarketing describes the use of physiological measures such as heart rate, blood pressure, eye movements, facial expression, skin response, and EEG to measure unconscious responses to stimuli.

EEG has the benefit of providing data on the cognitive and emotional processes that occur in this context. In this way, researchers use EEG data link brain wave patterns to certain types of messaging and consumer behavior. Marketers use the data to inform advertising campaigns and other strategies.

For example, EEG data showed having greenery in shopping malls reduces stress and elicits emotions that make customers more likely to purchase something.

These same techniques can be applied to tourism and hospitality, the authors say.

EEG Data and Tourism

Tourism marketing still relies primarily on self-reported data, including interviews and surveys when developing materials. These methods are increasingly under scrutiny, as they rely on memory and conditions of the survey itself.

EEG can provide real-time information about unconscious processes that motivate consumer behavior. This data will be more accurate and useful to the hospitality industry in a number of ways, proponents say.

For example, an increase in theta waves in the frontal lobe usually means heightened engagement with ethical messaging. This may then influence consumer behavior “such as willingness to pay for environmental protection in tourism destinations, and ethical issues such as reuse of towels in a hotel,” write the authors.

Increased occipital lobe alpha waves indicate an increase in visual attention. This, they say, lends itself well to creating more effective visual marketing materials including photographs and videos.

Measuring how emotions and attention are affected by context ultimately informs ad placement and location. Identifying which factors influence things like brand memory can also be beneficial.