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Asia travel

Do you book at bedtime? Hongkongers make holiday plans late at night based on social media

  • Peak time for Hongkongers booking trips on a popular travel website is 11pm to 1am, and 60 per cent said bed was where they planned holidays
  • Social media and influencers are a big factor in young travellers’ trip choices, survey shows, and most seek ‘rest and relaxation’ when on holiday
PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 8:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 8:14am

Do you book holidays at bedtime after reading about destinations on Facebook or Instagram? A new survey reveals not only that Hongkongers are booking flights and hotels around midnight, and increasingly on smartphones, but that many are heavily influenced by social media.

The same survey also highlighted the growth in popularity of Vietnam as a destination – in particular, Da Nang and Nha Trang – as well as a growing love among Hongkongers for long-haul holidays.

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The Skyscanner Travel Trend Report surveyed 7,500 respondents across eight Asia-Pacific markets, including Hong Kong.

Nearly 60 per cent of Hong Kong respondents said that bed was their place of choice for trip planning. That was corroborated by data from the Skyscanner mobile app, which revealed that 11pm to 1am is the peak usage time for Hong Kong travellers. Close behind was travel planning in the office or while at school.

That late-night travel booking phenomenon may also play into another key travel trend picked-up by Skyscanner. Nearly 63 per cent of Hong Kong travellers think celebrities and influencers have a major impact on their choice of travel destinations. This is followed by social media (59 per cent) and word of mouth from friends, family, and colleagues (43 per cent).

“Travellers in the 18 to 29 age group seem to be influenced most by social media,” said Paul Whiteway, head of growth, Asia-Pacific at Skyscanner.

Though the figures show no direct correlation, the combination of midnight travel-planning and a spike in the importance of social media likely go hand in hand.

“One speculation is what they are looking at during that time, which may have an effect on their destination choice,” said Whiteway. “It is also the time that many people scroll through their social media pages as a form of entertainment. We’ll continue to look into the effect of this behaviour.”

Apart from social media, Skyscanner also noted a spike in certain destinations depending on what is featured on TV at particular times. “If a TV show is featuring a destination or an attraction, we sometimes see a spike in searches for that destination,” said Whitehead. The report name-checks shows like Sammy on the Go, Fun Abroad and DoDo Goes Shopping as having an influence.

The use of smartphones may have an effect on who influences travellers, but although Skyscanner reports that travel search and booking has increased by 14 per cent year on year since 2017, there are just as many using a laptop or desktop computer.

“Some travellers still stick with desktop or even offline channels for trip booking,” said Whitehead. “It appears to me that the biggest reason is the ease of use, as the screen size on mobile is simply much smaller than desktop, and unfortunately some airline and online travel agency websites are not mobile-friendly enough.”

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Nevertheless, mobile booking is on the up, a trend that is likely to continue. “Our data reveals that [Asia-Pacific] travellers are increasingly using mobile for not only travel searches but also booking, with Taiwan and South Korea leading the region,” said Whitehead. “Booking on a smartphone will be the norm over the coming years, as we already see in China today.”

The report also detailed the rise of Vietnam as a holiday destination for Hongkongers, with a 37 per cent year-on-year increase in popularity. Da Nang and Nha Trang, in particular, received the highest levels of interest, though Vietnam still only just made the Top 10.

Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea remain Hong Kong holiday favourites, with the port city of Fukuoka in Japan a new entry in the Top 10 most popular cities for Hongkongers.

Hong Kong travellers are journeying further than ever, with Skyscanner reporting a rise in long-haul trips to destinations in Europe and Africa. Rome, Moscow and Prague are the fastest growing in terms of popularity, though Brussels saw a significant rise thanks to Cathay Pacific launching four new weekly flights direct to the Belgium capital in 2018.

It is a trend that reaches beyond Hongkongers. “Price cuts are accelerating the interest of [Asia-Pacific] travellers towards long-haul flights,” said Whitehead, whose data also detected a rise in the demand for more comfortable long-haul trips. “We have seen a significant increase in the percentage of travellers flying Premium Economy or Business Class on long-haul flights across the top 80 routes,” said Whitehead.

The report also noted that while Asia-Pacific travellers travel twice a year on average, 30 per cent of Singaporeans and 10 per cent of Hongkongers take seven trips or more per year.

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The vast majority (83 per cent) of Hongkongers said they travelled primarily for rest and relaxation, way ahead of authentic cultural experiences (58 per cent) and to explore new destinations (55 per cent).