Emily Tan
Nov 29, 2012

Asia-Pacific travellers rely on social media to choose: Text100

ASIA-PACIFIC – Travellers in the region are heavily reliant on social-media platforms when it comes to forming their leisure travel decisions—even moreso than respondents from North America or EMEA—according to a recent study by Text100 and Redshift Research.

Asia-Pacific travellers rely on social media to choose: Text100

Travellers in the region cite internet reviews (57 per cent), Facebook (42 per cent) and online travel forums (51 per cent) as points of influence when making leisure-travel decisions. In China and India, internet and travel reviews have a greater impact on initial decision of vacation destination at 71 per cent and 69 per cent, respectively, for China and 59 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively, for India. Malaysia also comes in higher than the global average on this front, according to the report.

All of the above numbers are higher than the global averages. Globally, the corresponding results are 44 per cent for internet reviews by travel bloggers, 37 per cent for online travel forums, 27 per cent for Facebook, 24 per cent for YouTube/Vimeo and 22 per cent for Pinterest.

The Text100 Digital Index on Travel & Tourism was based on online interviews with 4600 respondents across 13 countries. The respondents had all travelled for leisure purposes in last 12 months or intended to do so in the next 12 months. The Asia-Pacific countries studied were Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia and Singapore.

In Asia-Pacific, 36 per cent of respondents have used social media to help them choose a hotel, 35 per cent to choose vacation activities, 34 per cent to choose attractions and 24 per cent to choose restaurants.

“When it comes to reviews, our study shows that 75 per cent of travellers value independent reviews, which they judge by balance of content,” said Yeow Mei Ling, managing consultant at Text 100 Malaysia. “So brands that only reward positive comments are not encouraging users to write reviews that others trust.”

Instead, brands should reward balanced reviews and encourage the inclusion of details such as value for money, pricing and nearby attractions. “Our respondents have said they look out for this information in reviews,” Yeow said.

Encouraging social sharing also pays off for destination brands, and there is no better way to doso than to provide free WiFi access. “Globally, 49 per cent said they would share more if they had access to free WiFi," Yeow said. "In Asia, that number is 61 per cent. It’s a huge opportunity.”

Creating shareable content is also a great way to encourage social sharing. “Many theme parks try to sell you photos of yourself on rides at exorbitant prices. Why not use NFC or bump to share the photo digitally with travellers so they’re more likely to share it online?” Yeow asked.

However, while the internet has become more influential than travel agents, 39 per cent of global travellers still use traditional travel agents. Online travel sites and tourist-board websites are also visited quite often at 46 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively.

Only a third of those polled agreed that mileage or loyalty-program deals influenced their choice of vacation destination. Deal sites also score low when it comes to making a decision on destination. Yet sales and promotions are fourth on the list of what influences the decision on where to go on vacation, leading to the conclusion that more linkage is required for mileage or loyalty programs and promotional sales to rise as a vector of influence, the report stated.

“The key insight from this is that loyalty programmes and deal sites should link rewards to things people value," Yeow said. "For example, Europeans love museums, Americans love theme parks, so rewards should be bundled with tickets to these attractions—link them together.”

Globally, value for money is one of the main reasons for choosing locations or activities. However, considerations such as relaxation, the desire to experience something different and recommendations by friends were also key reasons for choosing a particular location or vacation activity. Interestingly, more than 40 per cent of travellers globally also chose a vacation activity based on how fun it looked.

When choosing a vacation destination, travellers from Asia-Pacific place greater weight on recommendations from friends and on the convenience factor. They also consider special needs suitability/requirements and are generally more into eco-tourism.

Based on these responses, the report suggested that campaigns aiming to influence choice of vacation destinations need to be integrated across traditional, web and social-media platforms with key focus on the target audiences’ direct circle of influence—their friends and family.

Another trend identified in the study is the willingness of travellers from Asia-Pacific to click on online links and ads to purchase accommodation or tickets, while US travellers were the least likely to do so. Comparatively, EMEA travelers were least likely of the regions’ travelers to use online travel websites for accommodation and transport or tickets to attractions and activities.

“If Asian destinations want to attract tourists from the US and Europe, they should take this into account and vary their marketing execution,” Yeow said. “There are key differences in their purchasing behaviour.”

Finally, for modern travellers, most of whom bring their smartphones along on vacation, travel apps are a must-have. More than 50 per cent of global respondents are likely to download travel apps before they go. Only 11 per cent of travellers from the Asia-Pacific opt out of travel apps.

The most popular app was of course, Google Maps. After which, generic maps, TripAdvisor, city guides, local weather, restaurant finder and public transportation apps are popular choices.

“Apps and mobile guides are a great way for tourism boards and travel brands to interact with travellers and attract their attention,” Yeow said.

“Effective travel campaigns today are based on market insight and incorporate an integrated channel strategy, not just focusing on social or traditional,” she concluded. “Because there are so many valid touchpoints, brands risk missing out if they opt to focus solely on online or traditional channels.”

Campaign Asia

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