The year 2015 was marked by several external challenges to the tourism and travel industry in Asia Pacific, including the Southeast Asian haze, MERS in South Korea, a bomb blast in Bangkok and the currency fluctuation that still grips many countries such as Japan, Korea and Australia. Even with all of the negative events, tourism in Asia Pacific continued to grow steadily, according to UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
Travellers are looking for fast, innovative and easy ways to use hotel booking tools. Tourism in India is said to witness a new set of trends in 2016. The diminishing value of the rupee and competitive airfares will boost domestic travel this year. The driving aspects of travel last year included pop-culture tourism, family travel, adventure experiences, convenience of booking hotels via mobile, etc.
“These are the top ten travel trends for 2016.” said Abhiram Chowdhry, vice president and managing director, Hotels.com – Asia Pacific. “We have noticed customer preferences changing constantly; right across the shopping spectrum and the pace of change is perhaps strongest in Asia Pacific,” he added.
Top 10 travel trends in 2016:
1. Mobile bookings: Travellers can get everything they need through the mobile devices. During the first nine months of 2015, one in three bookings on Hotels.com were made on smartphones.
2. Value-added services: Visa application discount, travel insurance, Wi-Fi and a one-day local tour are some of the value-added services that travellers receive in this age. These value-added services will continue to be attractive to customers in 2016.
3. Reviews: Savvy travellers are read and write reviews, and have become an integral part of the hotel booking process. Through reviews, travellers can choose properties based on their ranking in categories such as convenience, service, comfort and cleanliness.
4. Loyalty programmes: Signing up for rewards programmes is one of the ways to save on travel. A recent survey reveals that over 50 per cent of respondents in Asia enrolled in loyalty programmes, valued free products, gift certificates or cash rebates.
5. On-the-go itinerary: Travellers may not have enough time to make the hotel room booking in advance. A large part of travellers across the globe tend to book their trip with last minute deals.
6. Top travel destinations for 2016: Rio, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Bangkok: At a global level, Brazil is expected to become a favoured destination with the biggest sporting event in the world to Rio de Janeiro in August 2016. The Olympic Games in Rio shall be Brazil’s biggest draw for travellers, especially sports lovers. From an Asia perspective, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Bangkok are expected to continue to be big for travellers’ accommodation in hotels, as marked cheaper according to Hotels.com’s Hotel Price Index (HPI). Kuala Lumpur had a fall with a 16 per cent decrease to US$ 4,604 per night for Indian travellers. Hong Kong and Thailand, especially Bangkok, are still among the top destinations for travellers across Asia Pacific, according to the HPI. For Indians the top outbound destinations remain Dubai, Bangkok and Singapore, while inbound destinations like Goa, Mumbai and Delhi continue to lead the charts.
7. Business and leisure: Business travel in Asia, in general, is on the rise. The Global Business Travel Association expects that by 2018, Asia Pacific will gain another five per cent market share, while the US and western Europe will lose three per cent and two per cent respectively. Business travel is expected to continue to grow, along with the trend of more corporate travellers extending their business trips to add leisure travel with their families.
8. Millennials: An affluent generation, tech-savvy and more socially connected, this segment of travellers is expected to become bigger and more important. Driven by income growth, Asian millennials’ spending on international travel is expected to increase by 1.6 per cent to US$ 340 billion by 2020.
9. Increase in travel spending: Many destinations benefitted from favourable exchange rates, while others became more expensive, but saw their purchasing power abroad increase. According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, China continued to report double-digit growth in outbound travel, benefitting Japan, Thailand, the US and various European destinations. One of the emerging markets, India, reported also double-digit growth in tourism expenditure.
10. Personalised travel experiences: Travellers are using numerous tools to customise their journeys. This includes adding local services such as transportation options, providing directions, ways to purchase events tickets and tools for sharing personal experiences, such as pictures and real time reviews.