27 January 2017

Sabre dissects Asia Pacific travel market

The four different types of travellers in Asia.
The four different types of travellers in Asia.
  • Travel becomes mainstream: four in five Asians see travel as a ‘necessity’ today, not a ‘luxury’.
  • One in three Asians to travel for leisure three or more times per year.
  • A small majority of Asian travellers are more ‘self-oriented’ (56%) in their travel and seek to take control of their trip (58%).

A study by Sabre Corporation, a technology company serving the global travel industry, reveals a series of highly contrasting traveller preferences behind the growing Asian Pacific travel market.

Four out of five Asian travellers surveyed state that travel is no longer a luxury for them, but a necessity. Over one in three say they would travel for leisure three or more times per year.

“Barriers to travel in the region are breaking down – strong macroeconomic performance, rising personal incomes, a surge in affordable travel options and increased government support are all driving growth – meaning traveller volumes are undisputedly on the rise. But traveller preferences are also evolving,” commented Todd Arthur, VP, sales and market development for Sabre Travel Network Asia Pacific. “Those who work in the industry are observing that serving travellers based on a traditional trip category alone, such as business or solo or senior travel, has limited value in today’s more dynamic market.”

Andrew Herdman, Director General, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, noted: “It’s hard to segment consumers across the markets, but you may be able to identify some common themes based on the values of travellers and psychographics. No one has approached it this way yet.”

Using a psychographic assessment of travellers, the study finds that major polarisation exists across two key dimensions around the region: ‘motivation’ – whether a traveller is motivated by ‘self’ or ‘others’ in their travel choices – and ‘behaviour’ – specifically the level of control a person wants to exert over their trip.

However a small majority of travellers are more likely to be motivated to travel by self-oriented reasons (56%), seeking to build their own individuality and life experiences rather than the opportunity to gain experiences to share with others (44%). When it comes to behaviour, more travellers would rather exert control in their trip (58%) over letting someone else take charge (42%). This reflects a growing sense of consumer empowerment and willingness to invest more effort in personalising the travel experience; pre, mid or post trip.

Mapping these polarisations across both behaviour and motivation gives rise to four distinct Asian traveller types. They are: the Explorer (38%), Connector (20%), Follower (23%) and Opportunist (18%), depending on whether they prefer to be taken care of or take control on one axis, and if they are more self-orientated or more other-orientated on the other axis.

Taking more control of a trip does not come at the expense of external support and trip guidance offered by travel providers and agents. In fact the study finds that over three in five Asians (64%) expect to use a travel agency for their next trip.

Sabre is working with travel companies in the region to introduce new technologies that help them adapt and respond to these changing traveller types. “We’re encouraging our customers in the travel industry to ask, ‘how do I evolve my offering to connect with these travellers in the way they want?’ That’s how they’ll capture their attention, and credit cards,” said Todd.

“Take the Explorers, for example. They are the traveller type most likely to want to plan their trip on the go, so there’s a great opportunity today for the industry to provide consumers with technology platforms that offer on-demand trip planning and travel shopping services.”

One in three Asian travellers fall into the ‘Explorer’ category, making this the most common traveller type around the region. Notably though, after this there is an almost even split of travellers, by volume, between the three remaining traveller types.

After Explorer, which is the top traveller type for all 11 Asian markets surveyed, the following groupings were recorded:
  • Connectors tend to go to Australia, Indonesia, Korea and New Zealand.
  • Followers are gathering in Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.
  • Opportunists are ready to go in mainland China and Taiwan. 
Source: Sabre. The four categories of Asian travellers.
Source: Sabre. The four categories of Asian travellers, in-depth.

“Sabre’s study provides a fresh take on Asian travellers today. By going beyond traditional traveller segmentations to map the evolution of our customers at a more granular level we can hone our services to keep adding value to the travel experience,” commented Allen Leng, Corporate Office Director, Chan Brothers Travel & Director, Chan Brothers Lab.

Sabre Travel Network’s Senior VP, Asia Pacific, Roshan Mendis, said, “Asia Pacific’s travel industry is booming. Not only are we the world’s largest travel market today but we are also one of the regions with the highest levels of projected growth. With this comes rapid evolution in the way people travel; their expectations, choices, likes and dislikes. We need to understand these changes to keep the travel industry players we serve at the forefront of this evolution.”

Sabre is bringing more data-driven decision support tools to market this year that will help airlines, hotels and travel agencies track and understand their customers’ evolving profiles in order create more personalised and relevant experiences for travellers. This includes the new Sabre Red Workspace.

*The report was conducted by The Futures Company for Sabre Corporation between June and August 2016, based on a quantitative survey of 3,233 travelers from the Asia Pacific region, comprising both business and leisure travellers.