Whilst neuroscience may be the new industry buzz word, the travel industry is falling short of truly understanding motivation, personalities and emotions and their impact on retaining and attracting new clients. According to cognitive neuroscientist and psychologist Dr Lynda Shaw concepts and techniques derived from brain research and psychology can play a crucial role in improving individual and business performance in the travel industry and, as a former air stewardess, she knows from first hand experience.


Motivation is vital in the travel industry. Our motivation and reward systems in the brain galvanise us into action with energy and enthusiasm. It is not always about money and special offers. Taking the time to find out what motivates people is a deal breaker.

Dopamine is one of the brain's pleasure chemicals. When behavioural neuroscientist John Salamone offered rats the choice of one pile of food or another pile of food twice the size but behind a small fence. Rats with lowered levels of dopamine almost always took the easy way out, choosing the small pile instead of jumping the fence for greater reward. In business if you create a happy dopamine environment full of rewarding experiences, then we become more motivated to push ourselves.


Brand association and brand loyalty are increasingly being explained by consumer neuroscience. To understand emotional response to brands is a key to effective marketing.

The experience - including emotional processing and cognitive processing such as memory, decision making and attention - determines customer satisfaction and loyalty to the brand. This means that the prefrontal cortex and limbic system are busy evaluating and determining consumer choice.


Using consumer research and neuroscience we can record brain activity with electrodes and advances in neural imaging technology making it possible to determine specific regions of the brain that are responsible for consumer behaviours.

For example studies of emotion are crucial to the advertising industry because we know that emotion plays a significant role in our ability to remember an advertisement and in all our decisions.

Importance of the group

Consumers can be more influenced by the choices and decisions of their peers than their own internal standards. Many environmental factors influence the things we choose and the way we think.

In particular a group or community we want to belong to can have a huge impact. Group membership not only supports us but also moulds our beliefs and preferences. This may be both at a conscious and unconscious level.

Know your audience

Having a better understanding of the difference between male and female thinking can affect the sales outcome. Whilst there is no direct evidence to suggest that one gender experiences compassion more than the other, women naturally show more emotional connection than men. The success of marketing exercise goals for instance is, to a certain extent, influenced by stereotypical gender differences.

Assumption is foolish but understanding the brain and marketing differently for men and women may be key.


With these points in mind Dr Shaw offers some top tips for business success:

1) Having the ability to be open minded, using lateral thinking and pushing the boundaries every now and again can push business into the realms of stratospheric growth. Using lateral thinking enables us to market to audiences that we might not have otherwise considered. Don’t always choose the obvious.

2) When the stress hormone ‘cortisol’ is over stimulated for an extended period, we experience memory loss, high blood pressure and possible depression, which are costly to the individual and the organisation. Good business needs a healthy workforce and this starts with performance management that is consistent and transparent to avoid stress in the workplace.

3) Staff need to be given opportunities to develop and grow, but in small chunks, both physically and mentally. Synapses in the brain grow and strengthen with new information, but we can overload the system if we deliver too much all at once. Research shows that we retain information better when we learn in chunks. Positive, upbeat delivery for short periods of training will allow the brain to assimilate and use the information well.

4) Research now supports the efficacy of gut feelings in monitoring our behaviour, as does our cognitive braking systems such as the prefrontal cortex. Use your gut instinct in every situation you can.

5) When a company is harnessing their employees’ individual personalities, goals, needs and abilities, and are employee focussed and communicate with them properly, the employee will feel valued and valid which helps us build a successful and intuitive working environment. This in turn empowers them and alleviates stressful situations calming down stress hormones such as cortisol which can narrow their attention to any perceived threat, and opens them up to broader thinking, better problem solving and greater creative thought.

For further information visit www.drlyndashaw.com

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