This article is written by Cumarran Kaliyaperumal, Analytical Lead, Travel, Google, and Hermione Joye, Sector Lead, APAC Travel, Google
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.
Those traveling at this time, however, will no longer behave like pre-pandemic travellers.
Indeed, new research on APAC’s four biggest
travel markets: Australia, India, Indonesia, and Japan reveals that among travellers
now, there is a 3x increase in intent to travel internationally. Sixty-one
percent of travellers 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.
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 traveller, and find ways to reach and excite them to go on trips.
Here’s what we’ve learned about this new
breed of traveller that can help your brands prepare for the future of travel.
The traveller we’ve not met before
Given the complex nature of travelling during a pandemic, travellers 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, travellers spent an average of 56 days planning for international travel, which is 30% longer than the time taken to plan domestic travel.
The effort that goes into planning international leisure trips means that for the new breed of traveller, such trips are likely to be longer and more focused milestone events than was the case pre-pandemic. Our research shows that travellers 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.
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 travellers 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 traveller 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 traveller
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 travellers say they would be
interested in luxury stays and experiences, with 77% interested in package
When these travellers 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 travellers 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 traveller.
Wooing the new traveller as borders
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 traveller by promoting its luxury hotel inventory.
Sustain engagement over diverse
As a niche holiday destination, Tourism New Zealand
knew it had to get a head start on engaging travellers, so it launched a
multimarket campaign in key international markets, including Australia, telling
travellers 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 travellers
To stay top-of-mind among travellers,
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
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 traveller are well-poised to
capture travel demand as it rebounds. To do this, brands should keep up-to-date
with changing traveller 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.
• Download the full Think Travel report “Covid-19 Endemic: Adapting to the New Traveller” here.