Behavioural science applied to the tourism sector

Readings 📖

A Modern Guide to Tourism Economics: This Modern Guide captures the evolution of foundational theories, frameworks and models in tourism economics, and examines current and future trends and issues related to new economic perspectives. Milena Nikolova is the author of one of the chapters in this book exploring the application of behavioral economics to the context of tourism. The title of the chapter is “TOURISM AND BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS: The benefits of applying behavioral economics models in tourism context”.

This is the first book to explore in an integrated manner how advances in behavioral sciences can be applied to the context of travel. The text offers perspectives on how behaviorally-informed thinking can offer a deeper understanding of some of the dynamics in the contemporary industry and can point to different paths and solutions. The book can be purchased at Elsevier’s website as well as Amazon.

WTTC x Harvard LEARNING INSIGHTS: Behavioral Economics reveals how behavior-smart tactics can inform the design of travel products and services that promote the sustainable choice as the most likely choice the consumer or traveller will make.

From a Triple to a Quadruple Bottom Line Sustainability is a recent article co-authored by our co-founder Milena and her colleague Dr. Wendy Purcell from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The article offers a new perspective to tourism sustainability in light of the new culture of health and growing focus on wellbeing fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SmartWays is a hands-on manual for tourism businesses seeking to use behavior-smart tactics to optimize their commercial operations and the footprint of their operations. This publication is the output of a collaborative project with Västmanland Region in Sweden where some of the described here tactics were pilot tested with local businesses.

It all comes down to choice, trust, and transparency that platforms like introduced into the travel market.

When Covid hit, travel’s broad cross-section of content creators — bloggers on free or paid press trips, social media influencers, and multimedia storytellers — saw their revenues plummet overnight. Some scrambled to redefine their business models with a focus on local travel, while others shifted into lifestyle, fashion, food, self-help and home decor, or exited travel content creation altogether.

The work, which welcomed input from more than ten thousand travelers in 15 countries and 22 experts from different fields, seeks to anticipate the evolution of the travel sector over the coming decade. It is the ambition to deepen the understanding of their attitudes, motivations, and the way they’ll travel.

Videos 🖥️

Behavior-Smart Thinking
for Tourism

Behavior-Smart Thinking for Tourism is a recorded webinar delivered by the BehaviorSMART team to provide an introductory overview of what is behavior-smart thinking and what are some of its fundamental principles. Through hands-on examples and practical illustrations it demonstrates how behavioral tactics can help tourism companies and destinations optimize performance with minimal investments and high impact.

Pricing and Payment: what’s sustainability got to do with it?

This is a recording of a webinar delivered in collaboration with WeTravel. Price perceptions are often influenced by seemingly insignificant details such as the position of your price or the number combination it includes. Context-related factors such as the pandemic or an approaching holiday influence buying decisions and holiday plans. The sequencing and design of the steps in the payment journey can have an impact on the sustainability choices of your guests.

Recovery through

Recovery through happiness is a keynote speech delivered by Milena Nikolova during the TTA (Technology, Tours & Activities) Forum at ITB Berlin NOW 2021. This talk explores how behavior-smart thinking can help tourism businesses accelerate recovery and adopt a new mission – making people and societies healthier and happier.


Cost Flipping (part of the Restart Tourism Unplugged series) is an informal professional discussion with a small group of colleagues exploring the idea of flipping costs that would otherwise go towards managing undesired impacts of tourism into investments that prevent the materializing of these impacts in the first place (hence cost flipping).

Towards sustainability:
A nudge at a time

This is a talk that co-founder Milena Nikolova delivered at a TEDx event at the American University in Bulgaria in 2016. Within the standard TED talk format Milena offers some insights about how and why applying a behavioral lens to tourism sustainability is a smart way forward.