Have you got what it takes to attract the emerging travel market of 2017 to sample your travel products and experiences? We’ve just got our heads around the experiential travel trend of last year, surely we can simply ride out the wave of momentum gained and then build on it.. Well, that’s precisely what we should be doing, as long as we’re careful not to ignore the distinct, deep shift among emerging travellers towards transformative travel.

Transform what exactly and how? There’s lots going on in the world: political and social upheaval here and there, disease, terrorism, the general health and well-being of the planet and its inhabitants in jeopardy, and there’s a burgeoning consciousness that makes modern travellers want to do their bit to change the world, one trip at a time. May sound lofty to you and it would be so easy to take a cynical view, but dismiss this trend at your peril – and your brand’s.

Volunteer in the world

Travellers are super keen to give back to humanity and the planet, to make their impact on the environment and communities they visit as helpful and positive as possible.

They’re looking for lifestyle experiences – to learn about foreign cultures from locals themselves. Here the prospects for special interest tourism should be making your antennae buzz wildly with excitement.

Time to ensure you can infuse your offerings with experiences involving history, art, culture, cuisines, the natural environment, and ecology.

And when your guests say a satisfied goodbye, see you later, they want to go home and share what they’ve learnt. They’ll go as far as incorporating their newly acquired perspectives into their everyday lives – that’s true transformation and it starts with travel. Yikes! That’s a tremendous responsibility you’ve just been lumped with. Have fun with it. You’re still dealing with people and guess what: they’re happy to deal with your human selves even as much as they expect you to engage them with technology that’s relevant to them.

…consumers are demanding an experience that is enhanced by the technology they use every day

Cyril Ranque

meditate thai
Who is your emerging travel market?
The persona at the centre of your focus should be the geo-politically aware, socially, environmentally conscious travellers, the majority of whom are young, well-educated and digitally savvy. They’re motivated to travel in large part by what they see shared on social media. And they’re inclined to engage with like-minded individuals on social sharing sites. Again, are you there yet?

Following a trip, people often share how they were inspired to donate to conservation efforts for a species and the environment.

Ted Martens

laos weaving

Imagine attaching that kind of free PR to your brand through genuine collaborations with conservation or charitable organisations in your area.

The added feather in your cap is knowing you’ve made a powerful, positive impact on your community too. All it takes is a fresh look at your neighbourhood – opportunities will jump out at you.

But where are they coming from, these transformation-hungry wanderlusters? Look East: the Asian Pacific outbound travel market is leading the charge this year, spread across 11 countries including India, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and China. Incomes have been rising among the middle class and with that, a shift from thinking of travel as luxury to necessity.

They’re plugged into their mobile devices and social media bombards them mercilessly with travel images and stories.

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According to Sabre Travel Network Asian Pacific, one in three of them are Explorers, who travel for personal growth through immersive experiences that enable them to embrace local customs and traditions. They often travel alone and enjoy spontaneous planning on the go.

Expect them to observe your storytelling closely, to check whether you have sustainability at heart or not. Does your accommodation have effective water management, do you pay your staff a decent living wage, do you use local produce and support local entrepreneurs? Explorers are essentially ethical travellers.

Cartoon

Other travel types include Connectors – Australia, Indonesia, South Korea and New Zealand churn these travellers out. Generally well-travelled, they like to plan ahead and show off their travel experiences on social media. Pander to their egos and inject healthy doses of luxury, because for them travel signifies status.

malay mealFollowers tend to travel with friends/family whose needs they then put before their own. They like to be taken care of – Japan, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore all fall within this group.

The Opportunists, predominantly Taiwanese and Chinese, want immersion and indulgence, minus the hassles. They love a good deal, but they’re also the highest spenders among Asian Pacific travellers.

Chinese travellers will be the pick of the bunch as they plan to travel 3 or more times per year. Travel planning for them needs to be simple – the buying experience has to accommodate the fact that their travel booking evolved straight from travel agent to smartphone (quite unlike the average Westerner). Here’s hoping you are there yet..

Get there, reach out and touch. According to Tnooz, mobile phones so far this year boast 50% share of the total web traffic by device for travel, up 30% from last year. Digitally savvy travellers are no anomaly – they’re the norm now.

From our experience, the most effective travel mobile strategies encourage app installs with services that really make a difference

Tnooz

Get those Apps generating better interaction with guests and creating more personalised experiences now that you know whom you’ll be dealing with this year. Geolocation facilitates conveniences for guests, like online check-in, searching activities in the area, and more.

We see many travellers looking for good quality, centrally located accommodation that will give them maximum opportunities to explore on their own.

Gerrit Goedkoop

Consider this example of a potentially lucrative initiative from Hyatt Regency, at once impressive and simple to implement: the It’s good not to be home campaign combines 2 experiences, that of a professional fitness trainer offering on-site workouts and of in-room food experiences at the hands of a professional pastry chef. Consume calories first, then burn them off! Genius.

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It’s just as simple to get your inspiration directly from the horse’s mouth – initiatives based on guest/traveller feedback means products are designed to reflect real demand as opposed to your imposing products on consumers in the hope they’ll stick. Airbnb also launched a clever ‘experiences function’ on its site, where you can access experiences as diverse as pottery, surfing and belly dancing, among others. This is right up the alley of your Explorer who wants to discover the destination’s hidden gems and unique character.

Connectors would literally lap up initiatives like US based Plum‘s wine on demand technology, which enables hotel guests to choose from a selection of wines, accompanied by explanatory notes on the wine, and have their glasses decanted automatically. Selections can change depending on seasonality, bottles can be customised. Another simple concept that’ll hit a home run with luxury lovers. And what about Hotel Jen‘s smart Night Light campaign? It taps into social media and plots activities/experiences marked on a map by local influencers – guests access the map to plan a night out or when they have some free time in the day to explore on their own.

ecohotelTake the pain out of searching through the unknowns so your guests find the juicy nuggets of entertainment and noteworthy sites only locals would otherwise know of. We can all get that creative or borrow from the good ideas out there if it suits our brand. Then all that’s left is to market your brand so that you reach travellers on all the devices they’re running their lives on and tell your stories with an engaging content strategy – put it out there on social media to join the conversation and stir up that travel envy.

The emerging travel markets present us with unique challenges to respond to their desire for transformation, require us to flex our creative muscles, demand of us to ask some serious questions of ourselves and what our brand stands for, and remind us of the digital imperative in travel. To developing markets, mobile is the strategy – what’s yours? A genuine sensitivity to what motivates the traveller of the emerging markets is no less than what your guests-to-be expect of you. 祝你好运

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