This post is sponsored by Hilton Hotels & Resorts.
Globetrotters in Asia Pacific mean serious business when it comes to travel. Gone are the days where people were happy to be herded from point A to point B to check off a destination’s “must-visit” sites.
In an era of personalisation and hyper-personalisation, travellers are increasingly taking charge of the A to Zs of their trips, and looking for the next new experience or unheralded local gem.
Increasingly, travellers are going fully digital when they embark on their trips – from the planning stages all the way through to expecting the latest technology at their accommodation of choice.
In today’s fast-evolving travel landscape, hospitality companies and brands need to stay on top of what travellers are looking for in order to market their services to their target groups and inspire repeat customers.
A recent study by Hilton Honors, the award-winning guest loyalty programme, revealed the top three insights that tie identity, the role of technology and experiential travel as the impetus for travel among globetrotters in Asia Pacific countries.
Marketers should tap into these insights to better understand their target audiences when it comes to travelling the globe.
Travel and identity
The ability to travel brings APAC travellers to the brink of joy. It is fundamental to how they define themselves.
Hilton’s study revealed that 89% of APAC travellers feel “proud” to have had the opportunity to travel, and 88% regard travel as an identity marker.
For an avid traveller based in Thailand, she likens travel as fuel for her soul. Without it, she’d be lost. Increasingly, travel moulds the identities of APAC travellers as they continue to prioritise leisure travel above everything else.
A facet of travel that remains enticing to APAC travellers is the ability to look inward and seek avenues to be better versions of themselves.
Gen Y and Z are placing an increased focus on personal betterment in the hope of being more “knowledgeable” and “open-minded” global citizens. As such, they embark on purpose-driven travels. Through their trips, APAC travellers are actively engaged in activities and experiences that increase their awareness and understanding of different worlds and cultures.
Hilton’s new study revealed that three in four Asia Pacific travellers aspire to be a travel expert within their social circle, and the first to discover new locations.
Travellers regard themselves as ambassadors of destinations they have ventured to and actively share their experiences within their social circle. When unforgettable moments are experienced, it remains ingrained in their minds. It becomes a part of who they are.
Travellers relish being able to relive their trips with their friends, especially in instances when they discover new locations. Interestingly, the research revealed that being a travel expert is significantly more important to young families as compared to singles and couples.
Technology and the future of travel
Technology can transform the travel experience, either by making it more convenient, by creating immersive experiences or simply enabling travellers to discover, learn or be entertained.
APAC travellers recognise there is a clear role for technology in the way they travel. By incorporating virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) into their planning stages, they can start their journey at its infancy from the comforts of their home.
During the planning process, travellers stand to gain inspiration and explore potential destinations through unbiased lenses. According to the study, one in two travellers would be enticed by “virtual or augmented reality” tours of their destination to get insights for their next vacation.
Besides, the right technology can be incorporated to ensure a seamless process of hotel check-ins. More than half of APAC travellers feel that technology can be adopted to speed up check-ins and manage their trips better.
At Hilton, for example, Digital Check-In empowers our Hilton Honors members to select the exact room and view they want, check-in, and indicate the time they plan to arrive which puts the control back in the hands of our guests.
The new normal for travellers is to seek “once-in-a-lifetime” destinations and activities – in other words, to travel with a purpose.
By engaging in this new normal of travel, it mobilises globetrotters to “experience a transformative journey that is wholly their own”.
Two in three travellers seek a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” as a key aspect of travel that they desire. Over and above that, the more unique the destination of experience, the more likely they are to partake in it.
Focusing on the types of experiences that entice APAC travellers in particular, the Hilton study found that tracing the roots of local cuisine or having VIP experiences play an important role in attracting travellers to explore new or different destinations.
With Hilton Honors Experiences, we aim to cater to travellers’ growing desire for unique, exclusive and exceptional moments like these.
Some of the favourite experiences include spending a day as a sumo wrestler trainee in Japan, and a traditional fishing trip in the Maldives capped off by a sunset dinner by the beach.
More than anything, the recent Hilton study has shed light behind the motivations and expectations of APAC travellers before, during and after their trip.
APAC travellers cherish curated experiences that are tailored to their travel needs. They no longer have to step foot on a plane to begin their journey into foreign lands with the help of VR and AR. Most importantly, their travel experiences do not end when the trip ends, they live on.
The writer is Sarah Somerville, senior director customer engagement, loyalty and partnerships, Asia Pacific, Hilton.