Travel TrendsRevenge travel is trending but APAC travellers also crave flexibility, ease and sustainability.

What do Asia's revenge travellers really want now?

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Travellers are saying that they want to make sure that they’re leaving places better than they found them.
Travellers are saying that they want to make sure that they’re leaving places better than they found them. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Stella_E

Three in four travellers in Asia Pacific are ready to explore the world in 2022, with India topping the chart in terms of their confidence to travel both domestically and internationally, while Japan ranked last across the 11 APAC markets surveyed by Booking.com.

For APAC travellers, 46% of them said that their main reason to travel is simply the desire to just get away. But when it came to Southeast Asia, 56% of travellers cited mental wellness as their top reason to travel.

These findings were unveiled by Booking.com’s managing director of Asia Pacific Laura Houldsworth during the OTA's industry roundtable event, The Travel Edit 2.0, which took place on 3 June.

What revenge travellers in APAC want out of their vacations though, said Houldsworth, are trips offering flexibility, ease and sustainability.

From left: Laura Houldsworth, managing director of Asia Pacific, Booking.com; Hermione Joye, sector lead, travel, APAC, Google; Stephen Tracy, chief operating officer, Milieu Insight; Jeannie Lim, assistant chief executive, policy planning group, Singapore Tourism Board
From left: Laura Houldsworth, managing director of Asia Pacific, Booking.com; Hermione Joye, sector lead, travel, APAC, Google; Stephen Tracy, chief operating officer, Milieu Insight; Jeannie Lim, assistant chief executive, policy planning group, Singapore Tourism Board Photo Credit: Cheryl Teo

“Flexibility is still the number one difference in terms of the way that travellers are seeking and looking to book their trips,” Houldsworth said. “58% of our travellers said that they require the ability to be 100% refundable, while in Singapore, that number is 76%.”

This prevailing expectation could potentially stem from the ongoing uncertainties surrounding border reopenings in APAC. With Covid-19 still lingering in everyone’s mind, 64% travellers say that safety is their top consideration. But despite these uncertainties, leisure travel remains important to 54% of travellers even while restrictions are still in place.

Stephen Tracy, COO of Milieu Insight, agreed that “uncertainties around certain disruptions” is one of the “blockers to travel”, which is why people want flexibility. But beyond that, Tracy believes that travellers need to “be able to get access to information, as it seems like ever single week, there are changes occurring to travel restrictions.”

In working towards a frictionless travel experience for travellers in the midst of changing regulations, Tracy encourages creating better information flow between travel players and consumers, and for the government and industry to collaborate on making it easier for consumers to travel.

While Japan ranked the lowest across the 11 markets polled, potentially due to its ongoing border closure, it still held a healthy level of confidence (62%) towards travel.
While Japan ranked the lowest across the 11 markets polled, potentially due to its ongoing border closure, it still held a healthy level of confidence (62%) towards travel. Photo Credit: Booking.com

An example of government and industry collaboration is Singapore’s efforts towards reigniting its international travel engine. In a bid to ensure a more frictionless travel experience into Singapore, Singapore Tourism Board's assistant chief executive, policy planning group Jeannie Lim shared about how the board worked alongside the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority to make sure that documents can be translated across a wide variety of languages, and established partnerships with hotels and other companies to understand travellers’ new demands.

Hermione Joye, sector lead, travel, APAC at Google added that industry-wide collaboration on traveller insights are being taken “into a new level”, especially with more revelations on how the endemic traveller is more conscious about the way they travel.

Booking.com’s report reflects this trend with 35% of APAC travellers and 57% of Singaporean travellers indicating that they want to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months.

Not enough time has transpired to derive data on how sentiments on sustainable travel have translated into real-world bookings of green offerings, but Joye believes that in the near future, the younger generations who are “very particular about sustainability” will be the ones who develop loyalty towards sustainable travel brands. Sustainability is one of the many factors that will pivot travellers into coming back.

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