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The Asian Digital Traveler – A Synopsis

July 26th, 2017

Consumer dynamics in Travel are increasingly complex with everything going digital. To demystify this, Euromonitor Consulting conducted a survey in February 2017 based on a sample of 1,900 online travel shoppers in APAC. This research is a collaboration between Criteo and Euromonitor.

Segmenting Digital Traveler’s Purchase Journey

A typical digital traveler’s behavior begins with their inspiration to travel (dream), and browse for information regarding travel destinations, comparing prices, and reading reviews online (search). The traveler then books their transportation, accommodation, and other travel components online (book); goes on their trip (travel), and finally shares their travel experiences upon return (return).

Mobile Internet Drives Rapid Digitalization in APAC, Especially Developing Markets

Growing digitalization is a common trend that is present in the APAC economies observed, and across the world at large in varying degrees. This trend is especially acute in developing countries such as Vietnam, India and Indonesia, which share common traits of a massive and untapped consumer base which is only starting to enjoy the fruits of rising economic growth and spending more freely on leisure.

As online retailing becomes increasingly common across APAC economies, strong growth in online travel sales is expected, with double digit growth projected over the forecast period of 2017-2020 in China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea. Mobile travel sales are projected to have the most potential for growth in India, followed by Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea, as falling smartphone prices and more affordable mobile internet access fuels growth in this segment.

Online Bookings are a Commonplace; Online Reviews Cited as Top Decision Influencers 

Across the 9 APAC economies as a whole, 65% of survey respondents did online travel planning in the past one month and 88% made an online travel booking in the past three months. Of these, 61% were millennials in the 18-29 years old and 30-39 years old age group, being the most familiar and comfortable with online travel retail.

Top influencers for online travel are largely consistent across different markets, being attractions/ activities of the selected destinations, travel websites reviews/ posts, and price vis-à-vis budget. China was the only market where word-of-mouth is a top influencer.

Alternative Payment Methods Dominate Developing Markets

Accessibility is the main reason why smartphones are frequently used to search for travel information and book travel components. Hotel/ motel and air tickets are most often booked online. Developed markets tend to prefer credit cards for payment, whereas developing markets favour alternative methods: China – online money transfers/wallets (e.g. PayPal, Alipay); India, Vietnam – debit card; and Indonesia – bank transfer via ATM machine.

Apps, Websites and Social Media are indispensable to the Consumer Journey (So as Travel Players)

Mobile apps are most often used by online travelers to search for and book in-destination activities, and smartphones are most frequently used to view maps/ get directions and research local activities during trips. Respondents usually share their travel experiences by posting comments on a general social networking website (e.g. Facebook), or via online instant messaging.

Travel players are increasingly leveraging on customers’ online behaviours and patterns to generate targeted promotional content to boost online conversion. Big data analytics is also used to shape travel demand, by predicting travelers’ preferences and targeting them with new destinations picked to appeal to these preferences.

Mobile apps are also evolving to provide an one-stop solution to all travel needs in certain markets, providing value-added services such as browsing, booking to providing real-time support for travelers during their trips (e.g. check in services, in-destination activities suggestions). Travel players are investing more in growing mobile traffic by offering mobile-only products/ services and discounts to encourage more people to use mobile apps.

Another common trend is how consumers – especially millennials – are frequent users of social networking sites, sharing their travel experiences and getting inspirations from digital influencers. Social media will play an important role in growing online travel sales, and enhancing user experience on online and mobile channels to become more interactive.

To download the full report: http://www2.criteo.com/l/126241/2017-07-06/45hfrx

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