Firm says Thailand’s millennials are high on travel novelty and authenticity
And it turns out social media ‘influencers’ aren’t very influential
Thailand and Asia-Pacific millennial travellers want new travel experiences distributed through trustworthy channels, a category that includes ride-sharing apps and short-stay accommodation platforms, according to the latest survey by travel technology firm Amadeus.
The survey found millennials are embracing new technology, experiences and ways of travel.
Some 42 per cent of millennials say they often use ride-sharing apps when they travel, and 35% frequently use sharing economy services for accommodation.
The cohort is also more open to new technologies that enrich their experiences. For example, 77 per cent of Thai millennials have shown interest in augmented reality apps that deliver digital overlays containing interactive information about the culture or history of a site, compared with 67 per cent regionally.
Targeting millennials’ desire for new experiences is a golden opportunity for travel providers. Researchers have found that following recommendations that help them save money (37 per cent), millennials are most interested in recommendations that expose them to new experiences (27 per cent).
They are also open to travel providers sending them these recommendations or updates through alternative platforms. While Asia-Pacific millennials prefer to be contacted by email, 45 per cent of Thai millennials prefer to be contacted on social media.
The survey, conducted in collaboration with YouGov across 14 markets in the region, had 6,870 respondents, 45 per cent of whom were millennials (those aged 18-35) at the time the data was collected.
“For millennials, the internet and technology is like a second skin to them,” said Karun Budhraja, vice-president for corporate marketing and communications for Asia-Pacific. “They have an openness to new experiences and a willingness to rattle the status quo.”
He said they want different travel experiences in travel, so the industry must serve them differently.
“Travel providers will need to adopt new technology, new strategies, and above all, new mindsets if they want to secure millennials and market share. By understanding what drives Asia-Pacific millennials and what they value when they travel, businesses will be better placed to meet their needs,” said Mr Budhraja.
How influential are influencers? Not very, it seems. When asked who has the most influence over their travel planning and where they receive the most relevant travel recommendations from, Thai millennials choose general content on social media and online booking or travel sites as the most influential, followed closely by family and friends. This shows they are open to information from both people they know and brands they trust. Somewhat surprisingly, Thai and Asia-Pacific millennials ranked celebrities and social media influencers right at the bottom, slightly higher than brochures.
“While millennials may still look to influencers to curate trends, ideas and inspiration, I believe they are also becoming more sophisticated in how they evaluate them. With so many influencers becoming brands unto themselves, some of the authenticity that made them so appealing in the first place starts to get lost. “Real” is more important than “perfect”, and that is an important lesson for the industry to understand,” he said.
Cautious or adventurous?
Millennials have long garnered a reputation for being bold and adventurous. The data bears out this perception in some areas, but not others. Compared with older generations, Thai millennials are less likely to avoid visiting a destination that has extreme weather, a recent terror attack or safety or security issues like a spike in crime. While 71 per cent of Thai baby boomers would avoid a destination which has had a recent terror attack, only 61 per cent of millennials say the same.
But the research also found that millennials are less open than older travellers to sharing their personal information with travel providers in return for more relevant offers or personalised services. Some 73 per cent of Thai Generation X travellers say they are somewhat open to sharing their information, compared with 65 per cent of Thai millennials.
This caution may be due to millennials being tech-savvy digital natives, who may be more aware of security and privacy issues.
“While this research has highlighted a number of unique behaviours and preferences of Asia-Pacific millennial travellers, it is also worth pointing out that there are just as many similarities between millennials and travellers from other generations. Personalisation is increasingly important, being real is key, and travellers want to be connected with the right content, through the right channel, and at the right time. The travel industry can only thrive if we put the traveller at the centre of everything we do,” said Mr Budhraja.