OUT NOW: ‘Stepping Out of the Crowd’ – Where the Next Generation of Asian Millennials is Heading

Stepping Out of the Crowd (PATA, 2016)
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Winning a place on the travel itinerary of time-poor but experience-hungry generation of travellers from Asia’s emerging outbound markets will require clever marketing and well thought-out experiences that help them to quickly connect with local people and their traditions. When it comes to exploring new destinations, quick access to new foods, cultural immersion and local youth culture make a strong draw for Asian Millennials to ‘step out of the crowd’ and go off the beaten track.

These are just a few of the conclusions from a comprehensive new report just released by the Pacific Asia Travel Association in partnership with Visa Worldwide and Toposophy.Stepping Out of the Crowd (PATA, 2016)

Encouraging visitors to leave crowded hotspots and go in search of more enriching experiences has never been more important for destinations looking to capitalise on the rising tide of visitors from Asia’s emerging outbound markets. However putting this into practice is not so simple, especially when first-time visitors might not even know what else is available in the local area.

Finding ways to deal with crowds and helping visitors to explore further by themselves is putting destination management organisations (DMOs) seriously to the test. It requires a high degree of coordination with a range of stakeholders, the ability to develop an attractive product in new destinations and put in place the infrastructure to help visitors to get there and stay for a while. Following this, DMOs have to use their creative flair to raise awareness of alternative options, and then give people compelling reasons to visit.

Stepping Out of the Crowd is the second in PATA’s series of youth travel reports, and follows The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller which I authored in 2014. This new report covers the whole range of complex questions related to Asian Millennial traveller trends and tourism dispersal in a 150-page report that draws on unique consumer research carried out among 13 Asian outbound markets, expert opinion, case studies from leading travel brands and data from PATA’s own forecasts on cross-border travel. It also gives practical recommendations on where to start when putting a dispersal strategy in place.

Main features of the report:

  • Unique consumer research from Millennials in 13 outbound markets across Asia on their attitudes towards trip planning, city visits and going ‘off the beaten track’.
  • Data from the PATA five-year forecast to show how international arrival arrivals will affect APAC destinations in the coming years
  • Data and opinion from 14 market-leading tourism organisations, travel brands and influencers (including VisitBritain, NBTC Holland Marketing, Eurail Group and Discover Los Angeles) on how to set out an effective dispersal strategy.
  • Recommendations to public and private sector organisations on how to create more effective and rewarding products that encourage dispersal for Asian Millennial travellers.

How to get the report:

Full report – PATA Store (free for PATA members, US$100 for non-members)

Executive Summary (free download)

The project research for it was generously sponsored by Visa Worldwide and since TOPOSOPHY was the project’s research partner, my talented colleagues supported me with their inputs too, for which I am extremely grateful.

The bigger picture

Working on this groundbreaking project has taught me how the best DMOs are already hard at work to encourage dispersal, and to spread visitor spending as widely as possible – even in developing countries which find it hard to meet the needs of local residents, let alone demanding visitors. Yet in the end, dispersal is everyone’s business, as I explain in my recent TOPOSOPHY blog post.

This project has also shown in a variety of ways how much harder the tourism sector globally needs to work on this question. As far as tourism arrivals from Asia to Europe go, we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. Other regions of the world are emerging rapidly as key outbound markets, on top of all those travellers from advanced economies who travel several times per year with the same big attractions on their bucket lists.

I hope that this report will help tourism boards and travel brands of all kinds to kick-start their approach to making tourism dispersal work for all, before it’s too late.

 

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Becoming ‘Millennial-proof’ really means becoming ‘future-ready’

Ms Ambassadors Strategists
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Earlier this month Toposophy hosted a seminar at World Travel Market London which asked panelists from the tourism and marketing industries to name their ‘Six New Trends That Will Change the World’.

The panelists (Ian Cummings from Travel Massive, Sarah Betty Andrews from Business Betty and yours truly) submitted two trends each, and the audience was asked to vote at the end for the trend that convinced them the most. The winner took home a bottle of (cheap) champagne while the runners-up were each awarded with a can of beer (note: we hosted the session but didn’t choose the prizes!).

The remit was broad and the possibilities were endless, but I instantly knew which two trends, if taken seriously by the tourism industry do at least have the potential to change the way things are done, and hopefully win me that (cheap) champagne. I presented my two trends at the start:

  1. From now on, the tourism industry will have to become Millennial-proof (me)
  2. From now on, the tourism industry will have to recognise that not all Millennials are the same (me)
  3. Video is going to be the king of content, while Snapchat will become the key influencer brand for travel (Ian).
  4. Asia will become the biggest travel market in the world (Ian) – Editor: I think this is more ‘fact’ than ‘trend’
  5. Space isn’t the new frontier in travel – but finding creative ways to get there will become the new frontier (Sarah-Betty)
  6. Everything’s going to be live and online, all the time (Sarah-Betty)

Rather than read a ton of text about it, why not see for yourself how I argued my case?

Very often when people hear the word ‘Millennials’, their eyes glaze over and they start to wonder what’s really makes this generation so different from their parents. It’s a totally legitimate question to ask, and in a bid to separate the headlines from the really useful insights, I ask that question too. Essentially, it boils down to the fact that as digital natives, Millennials’ main screen is the mobile, they look first online whenever they need advice, news, gossip and reassurance or inspiration, and their expectations of what makes a rewarding experience have shifted slightly, dictated by the globalised, connected world that they grew up in.

I can say with some certainty that this can be said of all Millennials, regardless of where they grew up in the world, but my second major argument is that we should still be wary of treating Millennials as the same. Too often in the worlds of travel and marketing treat their audiences as ‘PLUs’, ie. ‘People Like Us’, assuming that they come from a similar socio-economic background, or that they all share a similar outlook on the world. With such enormous disparity in levels of economic development, education, freedom of speech and political climate around the world, how could that possibly be the case?

What was my advice for how to deal with this?

  • Know that young people are very diverse. Their needs and tastes can change rapidly as they grow.
  • Understand young peoples’ self-expression through consumption, especially in travel
  • Look at wider consumer patterns and consider where your brand sits.
  • Consider how Millennials from different outbound markets interact with you and each other.

If you’d like more inspiration then check out our free guide ‘How To Put Your Place On the Millennial Map (And Stay There)‘ or get in touch with us through @toposophy if you’d like to know more.

Oh, and if you’re wondering whose trend won the prize… I can confirm that the beer went down very nicely after a long day at WTM London!

Some Millennials will be driving tourism growth faster than others

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Last week I visited Manila to do a keynote presentation at MICECON, the Philippines’ national tourism conference. Here’s the post I wrote for Toposophy on how the future of Filipino tourism lies with Millennials, from both home and overseas. To see the original post and find out more about Toposophy, please click here.

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Think back to your geography classes at school and you may remember studying population pyramids, those diagrams used to show the relative size of different gender and age groups in any given country. Take a look at the population pyramid for most countries in Western Europe and you’ll see a ‘Y’ shape, with a relatively large number of older age groups (the baby boomers), and a comparatively reduced population among the younger age groups. Now go and check out the population pyramids for nations in Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia, Vietnam or the Philippines. You’ll find a cone in the shape of a Thai palace: very heavy at the bottom (with a booming youth population) and very thin towards the top.

Last week I was in Manila to give a presentation at the opening session of MICECON, the national Presenting at MICECON Manilatourism conference of the Philippines. During the few days I was in the country, I was able to see first-hand how young the country is, with millions of children, teenagers and young adults streaming around Manila’s busy streets and malls. The Philippines is a collection of over 7,000 islands that lies in the Pacific, south of Taiwan and north of Indonesia. It’s had a rocky history, variously governed in the past three centuries by Spain, the US and occupying Japanese forces. During the late 20th the country was run by a General Marcos (remember his wife Imelda’s famed collection of shoes?) and has long suffered as one of the poorer Asian nations.

Today however, the country is both generating and benefiting from the wider economic boom in Asia. English is widely spoken by Filipinos, who go for coveted jobs at the country’s growing number of outsourced-call centres. The Asian Development Bank forecasts GDP growth of 6.4% in 2015 and international arrivals in 2014 reached nearly 5 million with the government aiming for strong growth in the coming years. Domestic travel is extremely important since Filipinos largely seek to explore their own country before heading for trips abroad, and there is still much more room for growth among a population which totals over 100 million.

A youthful country preparing for strong growth in the future

Aware that the country’s tourism fortunes will increasingly rest on the Millennial generation from Asia and further afield, the Philippines Department of Tourism invited me to speak at the opening of MICECON, the Filipino national tourism conference to share some insights into the Millennials market, in particular those travelling from other Asian countries. As you may know, Toposphy is already working with the Pacific Asia Travel Association to study the way Asian Millennials travel, in an exciting project called ‘Stepping Out of the Crowd’, and we hope to add this to our insights in the months to come.

At MICECON, it turned out that ‘Millennials’ was the word of the day as the audience in every session asked plenty of questions on this subject. The Filipino travel industry is especially interested in younger travellers, and the reason starts at home. Young Filipinos grow up knowing that their country is a diverse and exciting place to explore, and they usually set out to do just that before heading overseas. Whether it’s for upgrading the country’s supply of accommodation or understanding how to make the most of the boom in Korean students coming to study English (estimates show that nearly 70% of Filipinos are fluent in English), delegates from hotel groups, tour operators and airlines expressed a strong desire to learn more about the Millennial mind-set and apply lessons to their own businesses.

The Philippines today has some strong competitors for many of its products and to some extent, its fragmented nature and distance from mature outbound markets such as the US, Canada and Europe are a disadvantage. The government has also recognised that transport infrastructure is lacking too, but is working hard to overcome these challenges. The country certainly has some outstanding assets, including beaches that match the best of the Caribbean, amazing diving opportunities, beautiful rice terraces, and some well-preserved UNESCO recognised heritage from the 300-year long Spanish era.

Micecon_FlowerGroupStill, in my opinion it’s the people who will truly place the Philippines at a competitive advantage in the years to come. Before arriving in the country I was familiar with the country’s slogan ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ though I must admit I thought it was a cheesy slogan just like any other. A visit to 3 cities in five days taught me that this slogan really is the best possible description for what you’ll find there! Fiestas in the street, a love of karaoke, friendly neighbourhood barbecues, articulate guides and warm-hearted generosity seemed in abundance. Even the conferences are more fun, with MICECON proving that tourism conferences don’t always have to be stuffy, formal affairs for the industry of fun and enjoyment. At this year’s event, delegates happily dressed by the theme ‘Flower Power’ and danced their way through the conference lunch!

Given that competition is so tough from neighbouring countries, it’s promising that the Filipino government and the wider industry have recognised that they need to start building up their knowledge about Millennials in order to design the right products and marketing messaging for the near future. MICECON was a great first step to doing this.

Toposophy will be there to support them on this journey as they seek more creative ways to engage with Millennials in the future.

“Now everyone can fly!” – Low Cost Carriers and Millennial Travellers in Asia

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Low-cost carriers (LCCs) have soared to new heights thanks to booming demand from young Asian travellers looking to take their first break, joining the ranks of other young people who consider these exciting new brands as part of their lifestyle.

[From The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller, released in August 2014 by the Pacific Asia Travel Association, here’s an article I wrote to sum up why it is young people especially who are flocking to LCCs – a phenomenon that’s giving The Rise of the Young Asian Travellerthe traditional legacy carriers so much cause for concern. You can find out more about the report here.]

[Article starts]

Across the globe low-cost carriers have re-shaped the traditional airline business model and have significantly changed the competitive dynamics of the air transport industry. Consequently they are now the dominant force in most short-haul markets in Europe and Asia[i]. While in Europe, low-cost carriers (LCCs) became established in an already mature market, Asian low-cost airlines have grown thanks to the rise of the world’s most rapidly expanding middle class (a process described earlier in this report)[ii].

The result has been the creation of a range of markets that are ready to embark on inter-regional travel with fervour. With a model based principally on low fares, LCCs make air travel accessible to a whole new market. Besides, the region’s geography often means that air travel isn’t so much luxury as a necessity; despite the wide-ranging rail and road building initiated by governments across Asia, the offer of cheap, fast and flexible air travel has proved an irresistible temptation for business and leisure travellers alike.

Low cost airlines now account for more than half of all airline capacity in Southeast Asia, and in 2014, more than 10 new budget airline start-ups are expected across Asia[iii]. In the Philippines, LCC operations (international and domestic) account for as much as 61% of all airline capacity, while in Indonesia and Malaysia the figures are 53% and 48% respectively. LCC capacity is expected to increase even more dramatically in the next decade[iv].

Projected Growth of Southeast Asian LCCs in 2014 ranked by fleet size[v]

Rank Carrier LCC Group Fleet on 1 Jan 2014 Projected fleet on 31 Dec 2014
1 Lion Air Lion 94 105
2 AirAsia AirAsia 72 76
3 Cebu Pacific Air Independent 48 48
4 Thai AirAsia AirAsia 43 35
5 Wings Air Lion 34 27
6 Tigerair Tigerair 33 25
7 Citi Link (Garuda) 32 24
8 Indonesia AirAsia AirAsia 30 30
9 Nok Air Nok 26 22
10 Malindo Lion 23 11

Source: Capa Centre for Aviation

LCCs and the Asian Millennial traveller

With the Millennial market, the growth of LCCs appears to be self-perpetuating. Clearly LCCs have proved to be a hit in countries with large, young populations of first-time travellers. Attracted by low fares, flexible online booking options and a strong fresh-faced brand image, for many Asian Millennial travellers LCCs offer their first experience of flying, and of international travel. Figures suggest that the experience is becoming addictive. The following factors may help to explain why:

  • Low fares – As the name suggests, low-cost carriers cut out the non-essentials and pass these lower costs on to consumers in the form of lower ticket prices. Research has consistently shown that LCCs attract a younger traveller, often willing to compromise on ‘extras’ such as in-flight meals, greater cabin comfort or checked-in baggage in order to get a cheaper fare. Low fares can encourage young people to take the leap and make their first trip away from home with friends, or colleagues. The introduction of three low cost carriers in Japan in 2012 led to an overall annual growth in domestic traffic of 8.7% (an additional 2.6 million passengers) the highest seen for 20 years[vi]. Pricing is generally highly flexible with LCCs, allowing customers to pick and choose single leg journeys to suit their travel itinerary.
  • Web-based sales and travel management – The Malaysian carrier AirAsia, was the first airline in Asia to introduce online booking, payments and ticket-less travel. It was also the first carrier in the world to offer SMS booking. LCC’s heavy reliance on the internet for their full range of services (booking, checking in, bag tagging, meal reservation and more) with the demographic that spends most of their waking hours online. Put simply, the millennial generation, as the first generation that has grown up in the era of the internet is a generation that is extremely comfortable with making online purchases and using the tablet or smartphone as an essential travel companion. For consumers who don’t have ready access to the internet or means of paying online, LCCs have also found innovative ways of selling tickets through dedicated booths in shopping malls or post offices.
  • Convenience through dense network and friendly schedules – LCCs have worked hard to shape their schedule to passengers looking to take a weekend break or even travel for business. They have also worked to compete with ferry and rail routes offering faster travel times, increasingly to primary hub airports. Faster turn-around times for aircraft mean that more flights can be offered during the day. Furthermore, the expansion of the LCC route map, particularly in Southeast Asia, has been particularly impressive with airlines ‘discovering’ a whole host of secondary destinations.
  • Strong branding. Today flying with a LCC is not just about paying for a seat on an aircraft. LCCs are rapidly becoming lifestyle brands just like consumer electronics, food or drinks, or fashion labels, expressing personal taste and becoming a part of every-day consumption patterns. LCCs commonly use their brand in a clever, often cheeky way, presenting a youthful, fun image and of course engaging heavily with consumers where they are to be found most – on social media. In addition to offering flights, LCCs are rapidly extending their brand to a whole range of other services; insurance, hotel booking, online retail, even movie rental.
  • Brand loyalty is another question… Young consumers are famous for their tendency to switch brands quickly according to what is cheap and/or fashionable. As flag-carriers are quickly discovering, traditional loyalty programmes, considered the ‘cornerstone’ of consumer loyalty are going through upheaval[vii]. Increased transparency of frequent flyer programmes brought about by modern technology, and shifting preferences among travellers for finding, booking and taking advantage of awards while travelling make it harder and harder for legacy carriers in particular to engage with a demographic that is adept at finding special offers online and comparing products for perceived value in a matter of seconds. To a lesser extent LCCs are finding this too – though they are more able to compete on their key branding element of low prices.

Southeast Asia already has a high LCC penetration rate – the LCC capacity share of total seats is approximately 56% – but the percentage for North Asia is still low at 9%. This is mainly attributed to tight government regulation on air passenger transport which favours the established flag carriers in the region. Some commentators have also questioned whether travellers in Northeast Asia, used to high-end services offered by the established carriers will take so keenly to the no-frills approach favoured by low-cost airlines.

Where younger travellers are concerned, there is reason to expect rapid-take up of LCC seats when liberalisation takes hold and LCCs start-up. More affluent, aspirational travellers may still be attracted to fly with full service airlines, forcing these to differentiate themselves from the service offered by LCCs. The combination of flexible pricing, convenience and snappy branding that have attracted legions of young travellers from Southeast Asia to take to the skies for the first time however, will be a tough combination to beat.

 

References:

[i] O’Connell J.F. & Williams, G. (2005) Passengers’ perceptions of low cost carriers and full service airlines, Tourism Management 27 (6).

[ii] PATA Visitor Economy Bulletin, February 2014 ‘ASEAN Tourism and Air Liberalisation – Really ready for takeoff?’

[iii] Wall Street Journal, ‘Budget airlines look to Taiwan, Hong Kong’ 16 Dec 2013 online

[iv] ASEAN Network Forum (2013) Lifting the Barriers Roundtable: Aviation

[v] Capa Centre for Aviation, ‘SEA low-cost airline fleet to expand by almost 20% in 2014’ (11 March 2014).

[vi] CNN online: Don’t laugh: Vanilla Air, Peach and other budget airlines mean business (3 Sept 2013).

[vii] Skift, The Reasons Why Travel Loyalty Programs are Going Through Upheaval (27 Feb 2014).

Discovering the Silk Road from where it started

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As the emerging outbound markets have, understandably, grabbed the headlines in recent years due to their strong growth, it’s easy to overlook the fact that on the whole Japanese travellers have always been loyal, high-spending and relatively adventurous.

With a ‘travel career’ many years ahead of their Asian neighbours, Japanese travellers are older, more mature and looking to move beyond their more familiar long haul markets. Partly for this reason, and due to greater ease of access, greater numbers of Japanese outbound travellers have started to visit destinations along the Silk Road. Invited by UNWTO, which has a project to encourage partnerships among all in the tourism industry along the Silk Road, I joined a panel event held at JATA Expo Tokyo 2014 which turned up some interesting facts…

Stretching from Japan through to Italy (though there were many more places associated with the trade of Silk and other goods along the route), the Silk Road project spearheaded by UNWTO seeks to unite the destinations along the route around the common causes of boosting their economies through increasing tourism access, improving visa facilitation and gaining greater exposure to the key outbound source markets.

The aim of this seminar was to encourage more Japanese outbound operators to take an interest in Silk Road destinations and for those operators who were based along the route to discuss how government agencies could help them more in their promotion and management efforts.

In debating how to attract and retain Japanese visitors, naturally the discussion turned to the characteristics of the outbound Japanese market, and visitor profiles. Operators running tours on all parts of the Silk Road were able to confirm that the Japanese value the chance to see cultural artefacts (especially UNESCO World Heritage monuments) very highly. As confirmed by Peter Wong, Executive Chairman of the China Chamber of Tourism, they also leap at the chance to stay in hotels and guesthouses that have character themselves, especially if they are also listed monuments.

Current political tensions between Japan and China aren’t helping visitor flows to the Chinese sections of the Silk Road due to increased visa restrictions, however many other countries have improved access with either no requirement to obtain visas before departure (eg. Georgia) or e-visa schemes on arrival. It’s normal for even first-time visitors to try to visit 2-3 countries in one visit, so ease of access is important.

Aside from the thorny issue of visa facilitation, tour operators expressed their desire for more support from national tourism administrations with running familiarization tours for the Japanese travel media.

One theme that all presenters highlighted was travellers’ increased desire for authenticity of experiences at all stages of their journey. Silk Road destinations offer this in bucketloads, with operators understanding the need for local people to meet visitors, share their traditions (crafts, food) with guests. However, as Peter Wong pointed out, authenticity is something that is easily snuffed out as some Chinese cities are particularly good at building ‘white elephants in the desert’, hoping to recreate entire European villages or Egyptian temples. This is clearly something to be avoided at all costs.

 

If access and facilities continue to improve along the Silk Road (with local people involved at every step) this is something that should bode well for attracting greater numbers of Millennial, Gen C Travellers, in addition to the greater numbers of predominantly older Japanese travellers who are visiting.

To learn more about the UNWTO’s programme for assisting Silk Road destinations click here.

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Travelling in Japan: Back to the Future (1 of 2)

JATATourismExpo2014
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Welcome to my first of two blog posts about my recent visit to JATA Expo and travelling in Japan.

The Japanese are moving from being travellers to becoming hosts as an ageing Japanese population travels less and the rest of the world visits more, seeking to satisfy its curiosity about this unique island nation. The opening session of JATA Tourism Expo 2014 revealed this, and a lot more about the state of travel and tourism in Japan today.

Following an invitation from UNWTO, last week I presented at the Japan Association of Travel Agents’ annual tourism expo in Tokyo. The event was on the scale of BIT Milan or FITUR Madrid, with several thousand participants hailing from 150 countries, a trade fair with one international hall and 4-5 domestic halls (which I found quite telling) and a series of educational seminars taking place on the sidelines.

The authorities in Japan are strongly encouraged by the country’s recent inbound tourism growth which pushed international tourism arrivals to over 10 in 2013. This has undoubtedly been driven by the boom in arrivals from neighbouring countries (not least China and Korea, despite their recent political scrapes), though arrivals from Southeast Asia are growing too. The country was also voted top dream destination in Asia (and 4th overall) by young travellers in my recent report The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller.

Furthermore, the growth from Asia has been accompanied by a mild resurgence in bookings from the traditional long haul markets of the US and Europe. The growth of tourism as an export is undoubtedly positive news for a country which has found itself in the economic slow lane (or even at a standstill) for many years now.

This yearGenCJapanese‘s edition of JATA Expo is the first since Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Olympic  Games and this was a hot topic across the conference, including the opening round-table session where the Chairman of VisitBritain Christopher Rodrigues and the Managing Director of Tourism Australia John O’Sullivan were invited to give share some of the main lessons that their respective tourism industries learned from the Games that took place in London and Sydney. Here are some of their top tips:

  • Hosting a mega event like the Olympic Games highlights the importance of the tourism sector to the general population (something the tourism sector has traditionally struggled with). It’s important to make the most of the opportunities that this presents.
  • If you plan in the right way, the benefits to tourism infrastructure can be considerable too, with improved transport and communications.
  • As well as keeping the official journalists and news-teams happy, it’s essential to look after all the non-accredited media who turn up to discover the country and the games too, providing them with access, footage and other materials for them to use. As bloggers occupy an increasingly important space in tourism promotion, this group is likely to grow in the future! Remember: The opportunities for exposure don’t just happen during the two weeks of the games!
  • Dispersing visitors throughout the country is a challenge – you have to make Olympics and non-Olympics visitors aware that the rest of the country is open for business, or people will plan to avoid the crush.
  • You have to try to fight against sudden price-rises and spare airline and hotel capacity being held by those who are trying to unfairly capitalise on the Games.

While the Japanese are famous for pulling together to solve common problems in innovative ways, the challenges outlined above are particularly big. If handled in the right way, they could give the Japanese economy the shot in the arm that it needs (in spite of the heavy investment needed to provide facilities). In my next blog post I’ll discuss in more detail some of the more immediate hurdles that the country needs to overcome in order to set it on the path of boosting its tourism revenue.

Peter Jordan, Founder, Gen C Traveller

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How to turn Chinese dreams into bookings

The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller
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It’s official: Australia has been voted the Nº1 dream destination by young Chinese travellers. Young Koreans, Japanese, Malaysians and Vietnamese have also placed the country in the top 3 of their travel bucket list in a recent study by the Pacific Asia Travel Association.

 This exciting news for the Australian youth travel industry was revealed in the latest report The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller, released just last month by PATA, an organisation that’s been analysing Asia travel trends and bringing the industry in the region together for more than six decades.

I’m proud to have authored this report for PATA, and those of you who attended ATEC’s Australian Youth Travel Conference in Sydney earlier this year will recall that I shared some of the very early results of this study, which gathered data from nearly 3,000 people aged 15-29 from across 13 countries in Northeast and Southeast Asia.

What did our young Asian respondents tell us? The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller

 Here are a few highlights…

  •  37% funded their travel directly from their parents
  • The biggest motivator to travel is to visit somewhere they’ve never been before
  • Traveller review sites such as TripAdvisor are the most trusted source of information before departure, followed by tips from family and friends
  • Budget hotels, rather than hostels are the preferred option. Nearly 1 in 5 young Asian travellers stayed in a 4-5 star hotel on their last trip
  • France and the United States are the top dream destinations for all those surveyed, followed by Australia, Japan and Italy

Check out the Executive Summary

No-one’s ever targeted the Asian youth audience on such a scale before, and the results really give the Australian youth travel industry some food for thought, or rather, some challenging questions to answer. Why? Because while Australia is high on the dream list, the challenge for the Australian tourism industry (and not just those directly concerned with the youth market) is threefold:

  • How to beat the competition (there is a lot out there)?
  • How to meet or exceed traveller expectations on the ground?
  • How to maximise traveller spend, peer recommendations and repeat visits?

As I discussed in my recent reaction to Tourism Australia’s Managing Director John O’Sullivan’s recent interview with The Byte, Tourism Australia is placing a high priority on making Australian tourism China-ready. At the same time, he admitted that TA doesn’t currently have a youth-strategy. With big potential for further growth (and not just from China), and with equally big questions for the Australian youth travel industry to answer, perhaps it’s time to make one?

So rather than batter you with more statistics, I’m going to throw a few grenade style questions that we all need to consider for the years ahead…

  • Chinese currently represent 11% of youth arrivals and has been the fastest growing market for 4-5 years. However, in focussing on China alone is Australia putting all its eggs in one basket?
  • Australia isn’t the only big hitter out there. For time-pressed students and young professionals, nearby Asian destinations are cheap and easy to get to , while European destinations have been gearing up for Asian growth for years. Does Australia have an eye on the competition in the youth market?
  • Students can be are tourists too. Studying is the main reason that young Chinese come to Australia in the first place. How can the youth travel industry leverage its partnerships with the education sector?
  • Is the country’s infrastructure (hostels, tours, adventure sports activities) well geared towards the tastes of the modern Millennial traveller?
  • Australians have toured Europe for decades, getting a good understanding of what a good working holiday should involve (ie. a lot of drinking, a lot of adventure). Does this work the same way for young Taiwanese, Koreans or Hongkongese? How well does the Australian youth travel industry understand its emerging markets?

The questions are big, but so too are the opportunities. Again, it’s reassuring and to see Australia placed so highly in young Asians’ dream list of destinations. But turning those dreams into bookings, bed-nights and subsequent positive reviews online is going to require a huge amount of education, training and most of all, teamwork.

In future posts I’ll be discussing the implications of this report for other destinations, as well as looking at ways to put the report’s recommendations into practice.

How to get hold of The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller

PATA Members of certain categories are able to access the full report free of charge, while others will be able to purchase it for a fee. Take a look at the Executive Summary to find out more.

 

Peter Jordan, Founder, Gen C Traveller

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