A new report by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), in collaboration with The Futures Company, predicts Asian travellers will account for one-third of the world’s travel spend by 2020. It further identifies the trends set to shape the next 10 years of travel as well as the new categories of traveller that are emerging.
The report identifies groups including ‘new global explorers’: travellers from high-growth countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. They follow well-trodden paths, wanting to visit all the must-see sights and are high spenders.
The report cites the likely increase in city breaks to ‘unknown’ cities that few people have yet heard of, or cities that haven’t even been built. Some 400 largely unknown mid-size cities in emerging markets – predominantly China and India – will generate 40% of global economic growth over the next decade and beyond.
IHG is seeing some of its strongest growth in secondary and tertiary cities that aren’t yet on the hot lists of the world’s travelling population, such as Chengdu, Hainan, Xian and Nanjing in China, and Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad in India.
Other emerging categories of travellers identified in the report include:
- Evolving families: They represent the changing shape of the family traveller today. At one end of the spectrum, the industry is seeing multigenerational families taking over whole floors in hotels whereas at the other end of the scale, the growth of the single-person household is driving the need for stimulating independent travel.
- Laptop and latte workers: A new breed of business traveller. Often young, the typical 9-5 working environment and business centre atmosphere is alien to them. They prefer creative coffeehouse-style environments where they can be inspired by meeting other travellers while they work on their own laptops and smartphones.
- Expansive mid-lifers: The growing numbers of adventurous over-50s travellers – currently and for the first time, the fastest growing and most affluent age group. These travellers seek new experiences, yet demand services that respect their needs without labelling them as old.
The report highlights the challenge for the travel industry of paradoxically balancing an increased guest preference for independence on the one hand, with a desire for hyper-personalisation for other guests, including:
- The Invisible Traveller: A new phenomenon highlighted in the report describes a guest who could potentially travel without touching the sides, and may never interact with hotel staff. From planning to booking, check-in at the airport to check-in at the hotel, room service and even concierge services, some travellers are already opting for an entirely independent, human-free travel experience.
- Predictive Service: The response to meeting the need for personalised and customised service. From staff who can speak multiple languages through to chefs who can provide vegan meals at short notice, the industry will need to keep evolving the ways they create customer loyalty and build long-lasting relationships.