Portfolio of Research Studies

Do People Dress for Comfort or Style when Travelling?

The Research Objective

Travelling through an airport always creates an interesting dilemma when it comes to choosing what to wear. Do we go for comfort to help create a more relaxing travelling experience or do we alternatively opt to aim for a touch of luxurious style to be the envy of everyone's attention as we travel through the airport. The objective of this research that I conducted on behalf of a well known global travel brand was to find out if tourists preferred to travel in comfort or in style. Therefore, the following research objective was formed:

"When traveling via aeroplane, do tourists prefer to dress for a purpose of comfort, or for a purpose of style?"

From this primary research question, several other research objectives were formed:

"Why do people opt for style over comfort when travelling through an airport?"

"How do people like to showcase their style when travelling through an airport?"

"Does length of journey have an impact on the decision between comfort and style?"


Research Methods

In order to answer the research objectives that are detailed above to a reliable and accurate degree, our data collection methods were aimed at a large sample base of relevant respondents to the context of the study. By working with the travel brand who commissioned this study, we were able to create an online questionnaire using SurveyMonkey and distribute it to a sample of 200,000 tourists. We received a response rate of 71.62% which gave us a total final sample size of 143,240. Thanks to utilising such a large sample size for this study, we were able to draw some interesting further conclusions relating to the impact that core demographics such as gender, age and income have on how the respondents answered the survey questions. 

Upon collecting all of the data from our online questionnaire, we input it into a data analysis program to allow us to effectively and efficiently answer the research questions that we had created at the start of the project. We drew our conclusions based on the data collected by using a cross-tabulation analysis technique to find connections between demographics and the answers to the closed ended questions present on the questionnaire. 

Our Research Results

The research question that our research study aimed to answer was as follows:

"When traveling via aeroplane, do tourists prefer to dress for a purpose of comfort, or for a purpose of style?"

Our research found that 81% of the sample that we surveyed preferred to travel in comfort rather than in style. This fell roughly in line with what my pre-research prediction would have been, albeit to a more exaggerated degree than was expected. Of the 19% that chose to opt for style over comfort when travelling on an aeroplane, the vast majority of these respondents were male and on high income salaries. Due to the connection between this choice and income, it is hypothesised that a possible reason for tourists choosing to travel in style rather than comfort could be related to travelling on business, in which case a certain amount of professional formal clothing may be required over something more casual and comfortable. Digging further into the results of our questionnaire found that this hypothesis was proven to be correct as there was a 86% positive correlation between respondents who opted to travel in style and those who listed "business purposes" as a reason for doing so. 

"Business purposes" was the most popular reason that respondents listed as their reason for travelling in style over comfort. It would be interesting to conduct further research on the same set of respondents to enquire if they weren't travelling on business or had more of a choice regarding their appearance when representing their company if they would continue to choose style or switch to more comfortable attire. 

The second most popular reason cited for picking style over comfort was "a sense of pride in your appearance". Cross-tabulation analysis of the data collected found that the vast majority of the respondents who selected this option as their reasoning for choosing style over comfort selected their income as being over £40,000 per year. This finding suggests that choosing to dress smarter when travelling and taking a greater sense of pride in your appearance is directly linked to having the level of income that makes such a thing possible. This finding is further confirmed by previous research relating to dress vs income. Further research would be required to investigate whether or not, given the luxury of a higher level of disposable income, whether or not more of the respondents would also switch to dressing in a more stylish attire rather than the casual appearance that they currently opt for when travelling on an aeroplane. 

Somewhat surprisingly, length of journey did not seem to have much of an impact on the choice between style and comfort. This was an interesting finding as you would logically think that as the length of the flight increases, so would also the desire to be comfortable during the flight itself as comfort would seemingly become a greater necessity for travellers. However, with this finding only being a secondary research objective, the reliability of this finding isn't as accurate as I would like it to be due to the limitations of the questions used to come to this conclusion. In order to fully validate this correlation, further research would be required with a more expansive range of questions designed to answer that particular research question in a greater level of depth and accuracy. 

One of the most interesting findings from this particular research study for me was the ways in which those who do prefer to travel in style over comfort actually go about doing so. On the surface it would seem a simple matter of dressing in a sharp looking suit perhaps. However, accessories were listed as a way that those who prefer to travel in style over comfort stated allowed them to do so by 64% of the relevant respondents. Examples of accessories was added into the questionnaire as an open ended optional question so was not answered by all of the relevant respondents. However, from those that did, accessories that are on visible display to travelling partners and nearby onlookers was the theme of the findings. Items such as luggage bags, designer passport holders and chic luggage tags were the most frequently given examples of accessories that help to showcase the respondent's sense of style while travelling through an airport. It would be interesting to investigate this further to find out if luxury accessories can serve as a form of style to replace smarter looking clothing while travelling, or if they serve more so as an additional form of luxury and professional stature that respondents feel must also be complimented by dressing sharply. 


The main takeaway from the research study conducted, was the finding that we can say with a significant degree of accuracy that people prefer to travel on aeroplanes and through airports in comfort rather than in style (there is admittedly some overlap that was not wholly accounted for by this research). Those that do prefer to travel in style rather than comfort are generally males with high incomes that often wear smart clothing to travel in because they are representing their company on business rather than travelling for personal reasons. 

One of the more interesting findings from the study in my personal opinion was the way in which those who choose to travel in style go about doing so. A sharp suit and smart shoes were frequent yet predictable responses given, but more interesting insight came from the popularity of travel accessories that people use to showcase their flair for fashion. Luxury leather travel bags were a very popular addition to the stylish travellers to help showcase their sense of style. In some cases, further information was given to provide more detail into the type of travel bags that respondents felt made them look stylish while walking through an airport. Another popular stylish travel accessory were passport holders which were frequently cited as a stylish travel accessory utilised by both males and female travellers. In fact, one particular range of Designer Passport Holders was referenced to by over 20 different respondents. Other items such as sunglasses, hats and watches were also frequently cited as ways of showcasing style at their airport. It would be of valuable interest to conduct further research to find out if stylish accessories such as these allow travellers who prefer to travel in style rather than comfort to do so while wearing more casual comfortable clothing.

In order to further validate the findings of this research study, further research should be conducted to investigate some of the interesting trends highlighted here in greater depth to provide extra detail and increase the reliability of these results. Due to the client's aim of making the questionnaire in order to facilitate a high response rate by not being too excessive in the length of time it would require to complete, certain secondary research objectives could only be answered in a limited nature.