Skip to site content
Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader

Boost Travel Joy with Brain Science

Breakthroughs in brain science may be able to boost the joy in travel — but only if the tourism industry will embrace them.

Milena Nikolova is on a mission to help the industry do just that. As a behavioral economist and founder of BehaviorSmart, she leverages brain science and psychology to help tour companies and destinations build more enjoyable and sustainable travel experiences. She joins this episode of the podcast to introduce us to the ways behavioral insights can elevate the entire tourism ecosystem.

Milena talks about how she discovered the potential of brain science to impact tourism; how travel providers can hack the human brain to create better memories; and the scientific reasons why travelers don’t make sustainable choices. Plus, we have news about why hotel occupancy is both rising and falling; a road tip about optimizing your post-trip surveys; and a Hot Minute about tourism’s risk of losing the working class.

Insights from Milena Nikolova

Milena had lots of insights about how travel professionals can leverage behavioral insights to boost they’re customers’ travel joy. This might have been the most impactful:

“Our contemporary culture of multitasking and living fast has actually reduced our ability to enjoy ourselves and benefit from holidays. In many situations, people are on holiday, but they slide on the surface of it….

“One of the biggest challenges we can tackle is making sure people leave digital devices on the side and mindfully connect to where they are…. A guide can do miracles just by planting moments of mindfulness throughout the story they’re telling. These moments can be the most long-lasting memories people take home.”

Plus, she had great things to say about:

  • The biggest scientific discovery the travel industry is neglecting
  • The “say/do” gap in sustainable travel
  • How behavioral insights can impact destinations for the better

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Follow Milena Nikolova and BehaviorSmart on LinkedIn.

Find BehaviorSmart resources at

Follow The Group Travel Leader on your favorite social media platforms:

Follow Brian Jewell on LinkedIn.

Key Moments From This Episode

2:02 — Travel News: Hotel occupancy is rising… and falling

3:28 — Road Tip: Optimizing your post-trip surveys

19:10 — How Milena Nikolova blends brain science and travel

25:54 — Why travelers don’t follow through on sustainability initiatives

32:25 — Using behavioral insights to improve destination impact

37:07 — Brain science tips for creating better travel memories

52:56 — Hot Minute: Is travel at risk of losing the working class?

Watch the Full Interview

Thanks to our sponsor Coastal Mississippi for making this episode possible. Learn more about Coastal Mississippi’s travel experiences for groups at

About the Podcast

Gather and Go with Brian Jewell is a tourism industry podcast that helps group travel leaders plan, promote and lead better trips. There are also tips and insights for destination marketers and others who support the tourism trade. Each episode reaches thousands of professional tour operators, travel agents and the volunteer group leaders they serve. The audience also includes destination museum leaders, church travel leaders and other tourism enthusiasts around the world. Each show includes an interview with a smart travel pro or an insightful person from outside tourism who’s expertise can help make travel businesses better. You’ll also hear travel news, road tips and more. New episodes are released about twice monthly.

You can find Gather and Go wherever your listen to podcasts or subscribe by email.


Subscribe to the podcast to receive new episodes via email.

You have Successfully Subscribed!