A study released today by Sabre Corporation a leading technology company serving the global travel industry, reveals a series of highly contrasting traveller preferences behind the growing Asian Pacific travel market.
Four out of five Asian travellers surveyed state that travel is no longer a luxury for them, it’s a necessity. Over one in three say they would travel for leisure three or more times per year.
“Barriers to travel in the region are breaking down – strong macro-economic performance, rising personal incomes, a surge in affordable travel options and increased Government support are all driving growth – meaning traveller volumes are undisputedly on the rise. But travellerpreferences are also evolving,” comments Todd Arthur, vice president of sales and market development for Sabre Travel Network Asia Pacific. “Those who work in the industry are observing that serving travellers based on a traditional trip category alone, such as business or solo or senior travel, has limited value in today’s more dynamic market.”
Andrew Herdman, Director General, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, notes: “It’s hard to segment consumers across the markets, but you may be able to identify some common themes based on the values of travellers and psychographics. No one has approached it this way yet.”
Major polarisation of Asian travellers exists
Using a psychographic assessment of travellers, the study finds that major polarisation exists across two key dimensions around the region: ‘Motivation’ – whether a traveller is motivated by ‘self’ or ‘others’ in their travel choices – and ‘Behavior’ – specifically the level of control a person wants to exert over their trip.
Self-oriented travel with a personal touch
However a small majority of travellers are more likely to be motivated to travel by self-oriented reasons (56%), seeking to build their own individuality and life experiences rather than the opportunity to gain experiences to share with others (44%). When it comes to behavior, more travellers would rather exert control in their trip (58%) over letting someone else take charge (42%). This reflects a growing sense of consumer empowerment and willingness to invest more effort in personalising the travel experience; pre, mid or post trip.
Introducing the four Asian traveller types
Mapping these polarisations across both behaviour and motivation gives rise to four distinct Asian traveller types. They are: the Explorer, Connector, Follower and Opportunist.
More control doesn’t mean less help!
Taking more control of a trip does not come at the expense of external support and trip guidance offered by travel providers and agents. In fact the study finds that over three in five Asians (64%) expect to use a travel agency for their next trip.
Sabre is working with travel companies in the region to introduce new technologies that help them adapt and respond to these changing traveller types. “We’re encouraging our customers in the travel industry to ask, ‘how do I evolve my offering to connect with these travellers in the way they want?’ That’s how they’ll capture their attention, and credit cards,” says Todd.
“Take the Explorers, for example. They are the traveller type most likely to want to plan their trip on the go, so there’s a great opportunity today for the industry to provide consumers with technology platforms that offer on-demand trip planning and travel shopping services.”
‘Explorers’ take top spot
One in three Asian travellers fall into the ‘Explorer’ category, making this the most common traveller type around the region. Notably though, after this there is an almost even split of travellers, by volume, between the three remaining traveller types.
Geographic groupings of traveller types do exist around the region though. After Explorer, which is the top traveller type for all 11 Asian markets surveyed, the following groupings were recorded:
v Connectors tend to be swaying their influence in Australia, Indonesia, Korea and New Zealand.
v Followers are gathering together in Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.
v Opportunists are ready to go in China and Taiwan.
Defining features of the four traveller types
“Sabre’s study provides a fresh take on Asian travellers today. By going beyond traditional traveller segmentations to map the evolution of our customers at a more granular level we can hone our services to keep adding value to the travel experience,” comments Allen Leng, Corporate Office Director, Chan Brothers Travel & Director, Chan Brothers Lab.
Sabre Travel Network’s senior vice president for Asia Pacific, Roshan Mendis, concludes: “Asia Pacific’s travel industry is booming. Not only are we the world’s largest travel market today but we are also one of the regions with the highest levels of projected growth. With this comes rapid evolution in the way people travel; their expectations, choices, likes and dislikes. We need to understand these changes to keep the travel industry players we serve at the forefront of this evolution.”
Sabre is bringing more data-driven decision support tools to market this year that will help airlines, hotels and travel agencies track and understand their customers’ evolving profiles in order create more personalised and relevant experiences for travelers. This includes the new Sabre Red Workspace.