Asia Pacific's (APAC) tourism recovery is advancing faster than most regions, and businesses need to be nimble with their approaches in speaking to customers, especially when it comes to digitisation.
The world’s internet population stood at 7.83 billion at the start of 2021, and APAC internet users accounted for 4.3 billion of that total amount. With more than half of the global internet population based in Asia, travel companies will need to ensure that their digital channels are on par with or better than those of their competition to succeed in this new environment.
“Most people’s experiences have been mobile-first interactions with the internet. They’re digitally dependent and comfortable. This is what contributed to the rise of travel super apps,” said Hermione Joye, Sector Lead, Travel & Vertical Search APAC of Google at the WiT Experience Singapore 2021.
Joye further revealed insights on the changing traveller demands in Asia Pacific culled from research done by Google based on apps and consumer-based data.
Seize new opportunities for brand loyalty
Current google data shows that “once consumers choose a travel brand, they actively prefer to engage with that specific one, but you would need to get them to choose you first,” Joye shared.
Businesses in the travel industry can gain a larger following of customers if new efficiencies with digital transformation are set into motion to establish brand loyalty during the incipient phases of Asia Pacific’s travel recovery.
“What I would recommend is investing heavily in digital experiences. Make sure that you have a digital experience before you ever consider marketing. And really invest in your mobile experience to make sure that you have your business set-up so that people can find you.”
Prioritise the experience to attract new demands
Current Google trends show that an increasing number of travellers seem to be looking for a longer vacation or business trip. This year, travellers are looking for at least a five-day stay, compared to the average three and a half days back in 2019, with one in four travellers hoping to spend over two weeks.
However, travellers are not looking to hop around to as many countries as they used to pre-Covid-19. Joye mentioned that previously in Southeast Asia, travellers would land in a country and visit other surrounding countries.
Also, with varying border restrictions curtailing or complicating destination hopping, travellers prefer staying in one location, but will still like to make the most out of the experience, and that, along with the increased travel duration, contributed to an increased demand for luxury travel.
Joye revealed that over 80% of consumers in the India and Indonesia markets are interested in luxury travel.
“People want the generalised experience. But once they find what they want, they want the specialisation. Every consumer wants a personalised journey,” she added. “This means that people are hyper-focused on the way they travel and don’t want to move around.”
Analyse how consumer behaviour has changed
The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a paradigm shift in the way people travel. While travel and tourism may potentially see an exponential growth as more borders reopen and revenge travel is on everyone’s minds, the industry will not revert to what it is.
Businesses will have to discover new insights and tools to understand the ever-evolving demands and expectations at every stage of a traveller’s journey, from the conceptualisation of a trip to booking flights and hotels and exploring local businesses, in order to effectively target and cater to new-age endemic travellers.
“I would focus on making sure that you have your digital tech data and test new approaches. You can get results quickly on digital channels which is where the customer is,” Joye said.
“Be creative with it, test, see what works, and don’t be afraid of failure. Learn from it and apply your findings. It’s being nimble in the way you talk to your consumers and the way you can change your approach.”