Friday, November 30, 2012

Asia-Pacific travellers want more social media, can’t go on holiday without their smartphones and laptops

Text100’s Travel & Tourism study reveals social media a major influence on decisions by Malaysian travellers

Kuala Lumpur, 30 November 2012 – Travellers from Asia-Pacific countries are both the most enthusiastic about social media and the most attached to their mobile devices in the world, according to Text100’s Digital Index: Travel and Tourism study.

Based on 4,600 respondents in 13 countries, the study suggests that Asia-Pacific consumers lead the way in using social media to inspire, purchase and share their travel experiences. 72 per cent of travellers from Asia-Pacific countries have used social media to inspire at least one element of their recent holidays, compared to only 51 per cent of travellers globally.

This trend is consistent with findings from Malaysia where social media has a deeper influence in shaping travel decisions. 46 per cent of Malaysian respondents regard Facebook as important to help inspire and reaffirm their travel decisions. Compared with the global average (26 per cent), Malaysians display greater propensity to using Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to get ideas and inspiration for travel destinations, vacation activities and attractions, hotels and restaurants.  

Despite this appetite for digital communication, many Asia-Pacific consumers still base travel decisions on more traditional sources of influence. 48 per cent say traditional travel agents still help in planning their holidays.

In Malaysia however, peer experience and digital reviews are coming in ahead of travel agents while personal recommendations from friends and family came in top as the main source of information for initial travel decisions with 78 per cent of respondents rating it as the top influencer. The study also finds that Malaysians consider travel columns (34 percent) and websites with holiday maker reviews (38 per cent) more trustworthy than professional travel guides (22 per cent).

“Widespread Asia-Pacific enthusiasm for social media is definitely not a signal for the travel industry to invest solely in digital,” said Anne Costello, Text100’s Regional Director, APAC. “Travel and tourism operators need to integrate their traditional and new communications channels, but more importantly they need to focus on delivering content which their customers actually want to receive. Standalone promotions and loyalty programs, for example, don’t seem to be resonating with consumers any longer; they need to be part of an integrated communications approach.”

The Asia-Pacific region’s digital enthusiasm among early adopters also extends to how travellers use technology. 89 per cent of Asia-Pacific travellers (75 percent in Malaysia) use travel apps on their smartphones or tablets while on holiday, primarily for information about local attractions and finding their way around. This “always-on” tendency, however, means that Asia-Pacific travellers find it harder to switch off on holiday than any others: 34 per cent use their mobile devices to do work while on holiday, compared to a global average of 22 per cent.

“The presence of the mobile device is quietly but dramatically changing how we behave when we travel,” said Costello. “As the fastest adopters of digital technology when it comes to travel, Asia-Pacific consumers are experiencing more benefits and challenges alike than the rest of the world. As a result, these tech-savvy travellers feel the travel industry needs to do more to keep up with their fast-growing reliance on the mobile device and social media as part of the overall travel experience.”

Text100’s Digital Index: Travel and Tourism study also found that Malaysians love sharing their travel experience on social media. Over half of the respondents have shared travel video, photo, blog or news story whilst on vacation. About 46 per cent would likely create and share more if the content is something their friends and family would enjoy seeing. An overwhelming 80 percent of respondents would be connected to social media if free WiFi is available on vacation.

“While social media is a key influencer of travel decisions for Malaysians, there are still many more valid touch points that brands and their communications advisor should be cognisant of. Ultimately effective travel campaigns must be based on market insights and incorporate an integrated channel strategy. Travellers are demanding more informative and advice-based content than ever before and delivering the most relevant content to them is vital,” said Yeow Mei Ling, Managing Consultant Text 100 Malaysia and APAC Sales Lead.

Other regional highlights from the Text100’s Digital Index: Travel and Tourism study:
Asia-Pacific travellers love to talk about shopping: 48 per cent will post comments about their shopping experiences, compared to only 29 per cent of travellers globally.
China is the heaviest user of social media for holiday decisions, with 71 per cent of consumers referring to bloggers and online reviews. In Australia – the slowest adopter of social media for travel – only 30 per cent do so.
98 per cent of India’s travellers comment about their travel interests online.
69 per cent of Singaporean tourists rate relaxation as a key factor when travelling, but 34 per cent of them still check their work emails while on holiday.
Only half of Hong Kong’s travellers say independence is important in travel reviews.
Malaysian tourists are more likely to value eco-tourism than the rest of the world: 38 per cent consider it when choosing locations, compared to 15 per cent globally.

To discuss about the survey: • Visit Text100 Facebook fanpage (

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