India has been the travel magnet for the world since ages. With a vibrant kaleidoscope of traditions, culture, and geographies, India speaks for itself as a soul-stirring destination. Also, with the growing income and technology seeping into every home, the industry whether outbound or inbound is witnessing steady growth.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020. Despite the slowdown due to rupee fluctuations, the Indian outbound numbers have been growing at an average annual growth rate of 10-12% over the last seven years.
‘Customization’ will continue to be the keyword for 2019 too
The customization was the name of the game in 2018 when the travel customer experience was talked about. The travel brands tailored information and offered their products based on overall trip experiences of bespoke travel preferences or past behaviors of their customers. And, the trend was people did not mind paying more for their services. This will continue in 2019 and 2020 as well as people are looking for convenient and secured travel facilities which many players are striving to offer in different packages.
During 2018, experience-based travel gained momentum. The Indian market is throwing a lot of opportunities as travelers are getting matured. Trends are changing; people are now exploring new destinations like, South Africa, Tunisia, Jordan, Fiji, Mexico, etc, which were never touched in the past.
Cruises have taken a huge leap; people are into experiencing good and new destinations. Avid travelers between 30 years and 40 years are traveling more. People travel for experience be it food, fitness or adventure, sports for their favorite cuisines, yoga or sports, etc. More and more people are opting now for a destination wedding as the cost remains the same, but it’s better coordinated with a new experience.
Technology is a game changer
In the last seven to eight years, the buying power of Indians has increased along with the internet and mobile technology giving thrust to the travel and tourism industry. Blockchain technology ensures complete automation, is changing the game in terms of ease of travel. Indians are now among the top five spenders for overseas trips.
As per the recent data, the travel searches conducted on a mobile device totaled 47% in Europe, 40% in Asia, 38% in Middle East Africa, and 34% in Latin America and 26% in the USA. Amazingly, Booking.com found that 80% of customers prefer to self-serve in order to get the information that they need.
Also, 60% of consumers believe that their travel experience should deploy the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and base their search results on past behaviors and/or personal preferences. Google’s data shows that 36% of consumers are willing to pay more for these personalized experiences.
Off-peak travel is gaining appeal
The trend of traveling during the off-peak season is gaining more and momentum as informed travelers get discounted tariffs at hotels, off-season discounts at tourist attractions and cheaper airfare.
Also, the thrill and excitement build up visiting destinations in the off-season. Trends show how countries like Iceland welcomed 32.9% of this total arrival during the winter months. Also, a recent study found that 79% of Americans would consider an overseas trip during the winter, and 53% of them would not be seeking a change in the weather. Winter festivals around the world attract millions of visitors, such as China’s Harbin Ice Festival which had over a million visitors last year.
The excitement in last-minute booking and search
The spur-of-the-moment generation goes for booking vacations last minute due to the excitement of not knowing where they’re going until the very last second. Also, the corporate trends show the spur in the last minute booking as the companies have meetings fixed at the much shorter deadlines.
However, finding a cheap last minute flight is a little trickier compared to accommodation, since prices typically go up the closer you get to the departure date due to the increased demand of the flight. But the trill that encompasses last minute planning is beyond expectation.
The recent data suggests travel-related searches for “tonight” and “today” have grown over 150% on mobile, over the past two years. Travelers want more flexibility, which mobile devices have delivered leading to a greater propensity to book last-minute in 2018. And the trend will continue.
38% of bookings are made on the same day or two days before a trip, 53% are made within a week of a trip, and just 19% are made in advance.
Destination insights help attract more customers
The traveling companies work on the destination insights to create an event that works for its audience. The traveler feels more confident and culturally immersed if he is on a guided vacation to any destination that he is exploring for the first time. The travel search data gives an invaluable overview of what customers are looking for, including insights into the most popular destinations. This can help you price your routes competitively and identify new opportunities.
(This article expresses the views of the author and not necessarily that of the publisher).
About the Author
Saurabh Sharma is the Director of Travel Unravel Holidays Pvt. Ltd. When not working, Saurabh enjoys spending his time playing sports ranging from cricket to snooker. And when not playing, you will find him guiding and mentoring people on how to lead a successful life.