Know the endemic traveller: Longer stays, hyper focused, higher spending

WITH the
rapid rollout of vaccination in Asia Pacific (APAC), many countries are
preparing to live in an endemic phase, and opening their borders to their
people to travel abroad.

development has given rise to the endemic traveller who is prioritising leisure
travel because they have been in lockdowns for months and are vacation-deprived.

Hermione Joye, sector lead, travel & vertical search APAC at Google, reveals this when sharing insights on changing traveller demands in APAC culled from research done by Google based on apps and consumer-based data at last week’s WiT Experience Singapore 2021.

Recovery in APAC is very fast, “so people need to be across the trends and need to be nimble as things are changing within a day, and therefore demand is changing.”: Hermione Joye

to the study, people are booking multiple trips as they fear going back to
lockdown, which means they are spending more. Over 80%
of consumers in India and Indonesia are showing a strong preference for luxury
travel, while in Australia and Japan it is around 60%, which Joye described as
a “phenomenon”.

Average length of stay has extended
dramatically since 2019, from three-and-half days to five days (85% of the
respondents), with one in four travellers planning to spend over two weeks.

Post-Covid travellers are also hyper
focused and do not want to travel through multiple countries across South-east
Asia like before the pandemic. “What we’re seeing is a strong preference,
particularly out of Australia and very heavily out of Japan, for very focused
travel to just one to two countries,” Joye says.

Covid has also brought complexity in travel
planning, and it now takes around almost 20% longer to book a trip due to
requirements like vaccination and taking PRC (polymerase chain reaction) tests.

Joye lists two reasons why travel suppliers
have to heed these trends.

“First, you need to be engaged with your customers
across the entire journey, as the journey is now complex. You need to be there
at every point. You can’t wait to the end and hope to capture that journey. 

“Second, for destination marketing
organisations, tourism boards and people pushing destinations, you’re not going
to get the same one flow from regional travel as you were used to. You need to
be really pointed and powerful, and get your message out there.”

She added that recovery in APAC is very
fast, “so people need to be across the trends and need to be nimble as things
are changing within a day, and therefore demand is changing.”

On the rise of travel super apps in APAC and swing by consumers towards them, Joye remarks this is not surprising considering over 2.5 billion people, half the world’s internet and population, are in based in the region. Apps have become the preferred channel for these people to engage with travel brands, with 58% of respondents doing that.

On what this trend means for small businesses,
she say: “What I would recommend is investing heavily in your digital
experience. Make sure that you have a digital experience before you even
consider marketing. And really invest in your mobile experience to make sure you
have your  business set-up, with video
content photos etc, so that people can find you.”

Joye adds people do not want a “ton of
apps”. The Google data shows “once consumers choose a travel brand they actively prefer to engage
with that brand, but you need to get them to choose you first,

On what the first thing that small travel
businesses must do tomorrow to win the endemic traveller, Joye’s response: “Understand
their first party data, understand the customer desire and invest in digital.”

On how the shift towards local domestic
tourism has impacted Google’s search business, Joye replies that while Google’s
business has become domestic, searches are definitely going across borders
again as the world reopens.

“In recent months with reopening of borders, international searches are flowing through. We saw this with the huge spikes in queries following the launch of the Vaccinated Travel Lanes in Singapore. There was around 240% year-on-year growth for queries worldwide out of Singapore.”

Featured image credit: TFILM/Getty Images