The travel industry is kicking into gear. Border and quarantine restrictions are easing up with increasing vaccination rates, and people are ready to travel even as the pandemic lingers.1 Those traveling at this time, however, will no longer behave like pre-pandemic travelers.
Indeed, new research on APAC’s four biggest travel markets: Australia, India, Indonesia, and Japan, reveals that among travelers now, there is a 3X increase in intent to travel internationally. Sixty-one percent of travelers have also indicated a preference toward international travel for future leisure vacations, and the majority intend to travel for longer periods, and plan to visit only one or two countries per trip.2
With this shift in travel trends from “when” to “how,” brands will have to adapt to the needs, preferences, and expectations of this new breed of traveler, and find ways to reach and excite them to go on trips.
Here’s what we’ve learned about this new breed of traveler that can help your brands prepare for the future of travel.
The traveler we’ve not met before
Given the complex nature of traveling during a pandemic, travelers will need to spend more time researching and planning, and they will want to get the most out of their trips. Across the four markets, we saw a 17% increase in the average booking time. In particular, travelers spent an average of 56 days planning for international travel, which is 30% longer than the time taken to plan domestic travel.3
The effort that goes into planning international leisure trips means that for the new breed of traveler, such trips are likely to be longer and more focused milestone events than was the case pre-pandemic. Our research shows that travelers are twice as likely to make fewer trips than before, and they are also 3X more likely to cover only one or two countries per trip.4
When they travel, they’ll make time to do, see, and spend more: 25% say they will travel for more than two weeks, and around 87% of travelers will organize international trips that last five days or longer.5 This is an increase from 2019, when tourist stays at international accommodations averaged three to four days.6
The preferences of this new breed of traveler mean it’s even more critical for brands to engage them throughout the path to purchase, from research and discovery to bookings and activities.
The new breed of traveler
They also have a strong preference for luxury and convenience, and they are willing to spend more to pamper themselves. For one, we’ve seen a growth in clicks for accommodations that are more than $300 per night.7 Additionally 78% of travelers say they would be interested in luxury stays and experiences, with 77% interested in package holiday tours.8
When these travelers have to quarantine as part of their trip, they prefer to spend their time meaningfully. Our research shows that they are twice as likely to opt for entertainment-related amenities in their quarantine accommodation, including streaming services and fitness equipment, over and above options such as upgraded meals, bigger rooms, and balcony views. The only exception was with travelers from Japan, for whom the option to have a balcony and fresh air appealed the most.9 For hotel, lifestyle, and entertainment brands, this means an opportunity to get creative and offer services that will appeal to this new breed of traveler.
Wooing the new traveler as borders reopen
With the industry seeing a fundamental shift to a less-frequent and high-ticket-size travel model, marketers in the know have been adjusting their business models accordingly. For example, Rakuten Travel has been catering to this new breed of traveler by promoting its luxury hotel inventory.
Sustain engagement over diverse marketing channels
As a niche holiday destination, Tourism New Zealand knew it had to get a head start on engaging travelers, so it launched a multimarket campaign in key international markets, including Australia, telling travelers to “stop dreaming about New Zealand and go.”
The campaign ran across all major channels, including cinema, TV, on-demand, social, and digital to reach as wide an audience as possible. PR and trade activity also supported the campaign.
René de Monchy, chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, says: “We found we had to keep engaging with consumers to get them to dream about New Zealand. We also really accelerated our digital channels by enabling them to convert business for New Zealand.”
Use digital to reach and inspire travelers
To stay top-of-mind among travelers, travel-booking company Klook experimented with live events on its mobile app, where it could reach a wide audience with content geared toward their various interests.
Some live events were sales-driven, whereas others invited people to share travel ideas and trends. The live sessions enabled audiences to interact with the hosts and to connect with others on the livestream. One session hosted by a celebrity, for example, received over 11,000 comments from participants within the first hour of streaming, and many of the comments were from people sharing travel ideas and suggestions.
By offering entertaining and educational content around travel, Klook gave people reasons to open its travel app and start thinking about and planning for future travels.
Indeed, brands that understand and meet the needs and expectations of this new breed of traveler are well-poised to capture travel demand as it rebounds. To do this, brands should keep up-to-date with changing traveler preferences and adapt quickly to shifts in demand. Investing in a strong digital presence will also help brands reach APAC’s growing online population and be ready for the future of travel.