As competition in the travel activities space is expected to grow in tandem with the market size, players in this increasingly hot sector will need to understand their customers better, in terms of what experiences they seek while on holiday, and appeal to their emotions when designing in-destination programmes and activities to build customer loyalty and retention, a key message shared at last week’s Markethub Asia conference by Hotelbeds in Bali.
Sascha Stange, deputy director, liaison department, World Tourism Cities Federation, described millennials as digital natives where mobile usage played a key role in the research and booking stages of travel planning. He shared that millennials craved for unique experiences to make their stay memorable and would share them on their social media platforms.
Stange stressed that travel providers who excel at personalising their products and services by first getting to know their customers would build a relationship of trust with them.
Larry Yu, master of tourism administration programme director at George Washington University, shared with the audience that 51 per cent of travellers in China had no idea where they wanted to go for a holiday and were open to ideas from a travel provider, according to research findings of Phocuswright’s Destination Decision: How Travellers Choose Where To Go. The same survey also found that 45 per cent of those Chinese travellers had a few places in mind while only four per cent had a specific destination.
Guangzhou-based Haiyou Voyage’s CEO Gilbert Xu, a participant at the conference, told TTG Asia that travel providers in China played an influential role in travellers’ decisions. He shared: “Millennial travellers are more open to suggestions. They will tell you their budget for a holiday and leave it to the the travel consultant to decide on the destination and activities. To make it a memorable holiday, you’ve got to take into account the client’s likes and dislikes.”
He said tours and activities revolving around local cultures, local cuisines and self-drive programmes were gaining in popularity among the Chinese.
Indonesia-based OTA Tiket.com’s vice president of accommodation Cisyelya Bunyamin said millennials were the company’s main market but to convert online browsers into buyers, there must be a variety of payment options available as some are not comfortable paying by credit card, she said.
To build loyalty and brand stickiness, the company offers instant gratification for buyers as well as exclusive deals with its many partners that are available only for Tiket.com’s members.
Australia-based Helloworld Travel’s general manager land contracting Joe McCormack shared that with the deluge of information available on travel experiences, time-poor travellers were turning to travel agencies for advice and suggestions.
Global travel bookings valued at US$1.4 trillion are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of five per cent over the next two years, while travel bookings in the Asia-Pacific region, pegged at US$420 billion in 2018, is expected to continue growing at 6 per cent over the next two years, according to Phocuswright’s travel research report, Global Online Travel Overview 2019.
The report also revealed that online travel bookings are growing twice as fast as the overall market, and Asia-Pacific is now the world’s largest regional travel market.