A major new pan-Asia Pacific study has been released by Amadeus, revealing the key themes that will drive significant change in the Asia Pacific travel ecosystem over the period to 2030.

Commissioned by Amadeus, the report, entitled ‘Shaping the future of travel in Asia Pacific: The big FOUR travel effects’, points to the geopolitical, social and technological changes that will have a fundamental effect on Asia-Pacific, and details the implications for travellers, travel service providers and the industry at large.

The study observes that as economies in the region converge – driven both by a narrowing of the wealth gap between developed and emerging economies, and greater liberalisation of trade and travel – travel behaviours will become more divergent. A much greater variety of people will be travelling, for a more divergent set of reasons, with a much broader range of aspirations, behaviours and expectations from the travel experience.

Developed by business research and consulting firm, Frost & Sullivan, the Amadeus-commissioned study surveyed 1,531 business and leisure travellers across the seven key markets of Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Singapore. Beyond quantitative traveller research, Frost & Sullivan also conducted 13 in-depth executive interviews with industry thought leaders from Asia Pacific.

Key themes included:

1. The Me Effect: The fragmentation of the travel market into ever-increasing niches
Travellers across the region will become increasingly distinctive, travelling for a much wider and more specific range of reasons, and with different aspirations and requirements for the travel experience. Significant new traveller segments will emerge, such as the female business traveller, the small business traveller, the VFR (visiting friends and family) traveller and the Generation S (senior) traveller. Matching this individualism is an increased willingness by travellers to self-manage their travel, bypassing traditional sources of information and transactional channels in favour of a do-it-yourself approach. The growth in self-managed travel will be particularly strong in China, Korea and Japan.

2. The Red Tape Effect: The breaking down of barriers to travel within the Asia Pacific region
Economic convergence and integration across the region will gather pace and governments will continue to liberalise the regulations that have impeded trade, and the travel that is associated with it. This will be manifested in areas such as the liberalisation of visa requirements and of air travel agreements. The overall impact will be huge growth in numbers, especially from emerging economies. At the same time there will be shifts in inbound travel markets, especially for business travel. China, as well as markets with natural resources such as Mongolia, Papua New Guinea and Myanmar, will become the new hot-spots for travel.

3. The Leapfrog Effect: Technology, infrastructure and behaviours in the Asia Pacific region will leapfrog ahead of those elsewhere
Asia will start to leapfrog in the adoption of newer technologies and infrastructure, giving the traveller new ways of managing the travel experience, and creating new behaviours. Widespread use of mobile devices and the reliance on social media as a key tool in the travel experience will force changes in the way that providers interact with their customers. Beyond information technologies, massive roll-outs of transport technologies and infrastructure developments in the region such as 4G, high speed rail (HSR) and port upgrading and building will enable Asia to leapfrog existing global behaviours.

4. The Barbell Effect: Growth will occur particularly at the upper and lower ends of the travel market
Whilst the numbers of travellers to Asia Pacific destinations will more than double over the period to 2030, traveller requirements will become more extreme at the upper and lower ends of the economic spectrum. Although there will be many more travellers from emerging countries, they will generally be travelling on a budget – and this will stimulate rapid growth at the budget end of the travel scale, whether on budget airlines or in economy hotels. At the same time there will continue to be enormous growth in the numbers of the very wealthy in the region, particularly in emerging economies such as China, India and Indonesia. For these individuals, travel is often the preferred form of leisure expenditure and hence we expect to see significant stimulus at the luxury end of the travel market.

Mark Dougan, Managing Director of Research, Frost and Sullivan said: “Asia Pacific is arguably the most rapidly evolving travel market in the world. We wanted to paint a broad yet perceptive view on the future of travel in Asia Pacific, to enable travel providers to understand where the travel industry is headed and take advantage of the opportunities present in this growing market. To that end, we needed to understand all facets of change – social, geopolitical and technological – underpinned by economic trends. We hope the study will stimulate discussion and debate on these developments and what needs to be done to effectively respond to these changes.”

According to David Brett, President, Amadeus Asia Pacific: “We live today in what has been widely termed the Asian Century, as Asia Pacific regains the leading position in the global economy that it last held before the Industrial Revolution. As economic growth and liberalisation gives many individuals in the region the ability to travel for the first time, the effects upon all aspects of society are going to be huge. We commissioned this report to further understand the future of traveller behaviour in Asia Pacific and provide a roadmap for the travel industry to shape itself with this in mind.

“The results are incredibly insightful, both by country and as a region, and travel providers who respond to these increasingly divergent and technologically-driven travel planning behaviours, will be best placed to capitalise on the changing face of the Asia Pacific traveller.”

To download a copy of the ‘Shaping the future of travel in Asia Pacific: The big FOUR travel effects’ study, please visit: http://www.amadeusapac.com/apacwhitepapersor

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management