Arival has revealed six key trends in tours and activities in its recent The Outlook for Experiences 2019-2025 research ahead of the Arival Activate conference in Bangkok from June 12 to 14.
Douglas Quinby, CEO and co-founder of Arival, said: “With many countries beginning to open travel after the pandemic, the Asia-Pacific region is seeing a surge of renewed interest in travel and tourism. Asia-Pacific travellers are spending more, travelling further and for longer.”
He noted that every creator and seller of tours, activities and attractions should be watching out for the following key essential experiences trends that are likely to shape the travel experience sector’s recovery.
1. A very uneven recovery
There are still huge variations in the pace of recovery throughout Asia-Pacific. In some markets, travellers are coming back strong – especially from South-east Asia, South Korea and Australia – while some source markets, such as China and Japan, are slower to return.
2. Intra-regional travel is first, but longhaul and Europe are not far behind
Asia’s travellers have started to travel regionally, but longhaul destinations are likely to not be far behind. Operators and resellers are reporting increased demand for Europe in particular.
3. The return of the outbound Chinese traveller remains a wild card
China has been a crucial engine of travel’s growth prior to the pandemic. While domestic travel has largely recovered, international outbound travel has been slow to return.
Operators in the region should be focusing first on other source markets in the region – and be prepared for China’s return in 2H2023.
Eric Zhuang, chief strategy officer of Asia-based DidaTravel recently commented on this shift in preference at the Arival 360 event in Berlin: “The supply chain needs to be reformed, and also a lot of clients have the change in consumer behaviours and booking patterns. The majority of people will still go to the top destinations of pre-Covid times, but the things they want to do will be quite different.”
4. Younger travellers – and their booking habits – will define the rebound
Gen-Z and younger millennials are driving the recovery across Asia, and their behaviour is already reshaping the industry. This large, experience-hungry cohort of the traveller population prioritises experiences over stuff. They are putting experiences first and willing to pay for them.
Operators should take note of this and prepare more small-group, immersive experiences that get travellers off the beaten path with unique, memorable interactions. In addition, all of it has to be bookable via mobile, with plenty of Instagram- and TikTok-worthy moments.
5. Mobile booking and online marketplaces will more than triple in market share by 2025
With younger travellers leading the rebound, operators must be ready for the mobile wave.
Wilfred Fan, chief commercial officer, Klook, remarked that they have “seen a growth of 120% above the pre-pandemic level”, which was a company record – she added that the trend will continue.
6. Small group and independent travel will lead travel’s return
Younger travellers are seeking more independent and adventure travel and experiences. This means more small group tours, independent tours, outdoor adventure activities and other unique experiences than travellers can cherish with family and friends.
The Outlook for Experiences 2019-2025 research can be downloaded here.