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Travel platforms target younger travellers with authentic, personalised offerings | TTG Asia



Travel platforms target younger travellers with authentic, personalised offerings | TTG Asia

Digital travel platforms are ramping up their focus on the millennial and Gen Z demographic with data showing strong demand and surge bookings during special social media marketing events, their merchandise value contribution and the impact of celebrity endorsements and holiday periods.

These platforms are investing in appealing to this younger, tech-savvy cohort with what they like – a seamless, customised and entertaining travel planning experience.

Sun: popular social media platforms and live-streaming services reach a wider and more diverse audience Group launched live-streaming in 2020, and according to Group chief marketing officer Bo Sun, live-streaming appeals to a broad demographic, including tech-savvy millennials and Gen Z travellers who are looking for interactive and visually appealing content.

“By leveraging popular social media platforms and live-streaming services, we can reach a wider and more diverse audience,” he added.

In 1Q2024, Group’s live-streams drove a substantial 55.7 per cent increase in gross merchandise value (GMV) compared to the same period last year.

Recent live-streaming sessions featured travel destinations such as Thailand and Singapore to showcase their unique attractions and available travel products in real-time.

On the appeal of such events, Sun noted: “During our live-streams, hosts share valuable travel tips, recommend destinations and provide exclusive discounts on hotels, tour tickets and limited-time coupons.”

In February, Group collaborated with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and held a live-stream in Phuket for its Mega Sale event.

“This event not only highlighted Thailand’s diverse attractions with millions of views but also generated significant GMV of over US$7 million and over 24,000 orders,” Sun shared.

A month earlier, in Singapore, the live broadcast saw high volumes – exceeding 5.41 million bookings – and the Mega Sale event at Singapore Changi Airport achieved US$5.5 million in total GMV of Singapore travel products.

Sun added: “While the audience is currently primarily Chinese, we will further apply this strategy for other locales to align with emerging live-stream trends in the other regions.”

At Airbnb, 2023 data showed strong demand from millennial and Gen Z travellers, and approximately 50 per cent of first-time bookers in Asia-Pacific were aged between 18 and 30 years old.

A spokesperson told TTG Asia that around 90 per cent of first-time bookers in the Indian market last year were millennials and Gen Z travellers.

Between 2022 and 2023, Airbnb saw millennials and Gen Z guests “drive a surge in travel to Thailand” and “bookings in Thailand by Indian guests on Airbnb increased more than 60 per cent year-on-year”.

She also shared that there was a noticeable surge of interest during the Holi and Easter long weekends in 2023 when searches by Indian guests for stays in Thailand during that period increased by more than 200 per cent.

Bek: the younger demographic is more adventurous and wishes to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations

“Over the last few years, we’ve announced several product updates, with the most recent being the launch of a new category of extraordinary experiences hosted by the greatest names in music, film, television, art, and sports, among others,” noted the spokesperson.

Jeremy Bek, general manager, global head of travel at Rakuten Travel observed an increase in high-spending travellers and higher-ranked members driving business, particularly from countries such as Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan to Japan.

Bek stated: “These travellers are often looking for highly authentic experiences, including stays at ryokans in less frequented cities, as well as unique cultural experiences and gourmet dining, such as kaiseki (traditional multi-course Japanese dinner).”

While Rakuten Travel does not specifically record age-related data in the booking process, it recognises the significant impact of younger, under-40 travellers driving demand on its platform.

“This demographic is tech-savvy, values unique and personalised experiences, and is more likely to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations,” he shared. “Their preferences for experiential travel and their willingness to spend on unique experiences are shaping the future of the travel industry, making them a key focus for our growth and innovation strategies.”

Regular sales and campaigns also play a significant role in driving bookings and revenue for Rakuten Travel.

Bek continued: “Particularly, our recurring mega sale, dubbed Rakuten Travel Super Sale, offers substantial discounts of up to 75 per cent and encourages travellers to take advantage of our exclusive offers and receive significant interest and bookings.

“Additionally, these campaigns help increase brand awareness, especially in countries where our brand presence is still growing.”

“At Rakuten Travel, we are leveraging various tech innovations to enhance and personalise the travel experience,” he added.

Rakuten Travel offers detailed meal plans, allowing travellers to select their choice of meals at ryokans, and meal filters to help users find accommodations that meet their dietary preferences – these are seen as important for younger travellers who value personalised and unique culinary experiences.

“Compared to other OTAs, Rakuten Travel provides more accommodation-type filters, including options like machiyas (traditional townhouses), which cater to those seeking authentic Japanese stays – something that is not available on other platforms,” explained Bek.

“Moreover, the younger demographic is more adventurous and wishes to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations that are less accessible by public transportation and more easily accessible by car. As such, we have introduced a car rental reservation service in multiple languages, including English, Korean and traditional Chinese, with a user-friendly interface and intuitive search functionality, making it easy for travellers to book rental cars on the same platform as the accommodations booking website.”

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