Asia Pacific travelers gain weight in global travel industry

Jackson Pek

As Asia Pacific countries (APAC) rapidly become the fastest-growing ones in terms of global travel, regional travelers are becoming service providers’ most important target market.

Speaking on the sidelines of The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Forum yesterday, Jackson Pek, vice president and general counsel of Amadeus, Asia Pacific, stressed that travelers from China are large contributors to this growth, although only 10 percent of Chinese nationals have passports.

According to him, the APAC region’s potential is incredible and makes APAC travelers the most important target market.

“If only 10 percent of Chinese nationals have passports and yet they are already the largest contingent, then at the end of the day, the potential is just huge,” said Pek.

A research paper presented by Pek, titled “Journey of Me. Insights: What Asia Pacific Travelers Want,” demonstrated that these travelers wish to feel safe and secure, happy and informed.

Sixty-four percent of APAC travelers were open to sharing personal information with travel service providers for more relevant offers and personalized services.

However, being able to address individual travelers and provide them with personalized services remains an industry-wide challenge given some tourists’ reluctance to provide their personal information.

With developments in data science and artificial intelligence, service providers are likely to have accurate profiles of each traveler over time. Travelers may eventually be able to decide what personal data is used to create their profiles.

“But once that profile is made, then we can target offers across the spectrum, whether being airline or hotel or tour operator. They will know what this person wants and hope to delight them and exceed their expectations. That is the challenge and with technology, it’s getting closer,” explained Pek.

Data-based personalization is also vital in drawing millennial consumers to a destination, as well as the overall experience of a traveler’s stay in a region.

The research shows that travelers are now more savvy and better-informed, thus making it more challenging for tourism operators to create elements of surprise.

Meanwhile, growth in the middle-class population also remains a factor in the rise of APAC travelers, along with the availability of low-cost carriers. Both factors provide opportunities to people who have not travelled before.

Although affluent tourists have changed the landscape of travel, low-cost carriers such as AirAsia now offer accommodation such as Tune Hotels, which targets travelers who cannot afford higher-
end hotels in certain regions.

With the region’s steady growth in tourists, Pek commended Macau for its infrastructure, particularly in Cotai, where travelers can walk through several integrated resorts within the same building.

“There’s always a sense of wonder when you come to Macau because everything is sort of larger than life here,” Pek said.

The expert also noticed that there have been significant changes in how the region welcomes travelers, including text messages to tourists promoting offers from different gaming operators – an effective strategy, in his opinion.

“[Macau] is sort of a Vegas of Asia but I guess it goes beyond that because the culture here is something and people are very warm, and you can trust that maybe with Vegas, which is a little bit more transactional,” Pek concluded. 

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