Hong Kong, July 22, 2009 – Travelport has revealed findings from its third Asia Pacific Retail Travel Benchmarking Survey that offers some interesting insights into consumer travel patterns and attitudes.
The survey found that while sustainability and carbon footprint reduction may have become buzz words in other parts of the world, it is just beginning to take hold in the Asia Pacific region. Australia’s travel agents topped the survey for green travel awareness with 31% of agencies (more than double the Asia Pacific average) indicating that customers were “very concerned” about sustainable tourism.
Singapore customers – both business and leisure – appeared the least concerned about reducing their travel carbon footprint, with 53% of travel agent respondents indicating that customers were “not concerned at all” about sustainable tourism. Business travellers from Singapore and Taiwan expressed the least interest in paying for sustainable travel, indicating that financial considerations were top of mind.
“The lack of promotion to raise awareness of green travel may have contributed to these findings, with only 10% of travel agents proactively promoting eco-friendly tourism on a regular basis,” said Brad Holman, President and Managing Director of Travelport GDS – Asia Pacific.
“These findings may also be the result of tighter travel budgets battered by the economic downturn rather than a genuine lack of concern for the environment,” Holman added. “For business travel, more than half of business travellers expressed a willingness to pay for more eco-friendly travel, particularly from Malaysia (80%), China (76%) and India (67%).”
Some of the other survey findings include:
· A growing trend towards last minute travel with 60% of business reservations taking place between 0-5 days. Last minute business travel was particularly evident in China where 91% of business travel reservations occurred between 0-5 days followed by Thailand at 89%.
· Travel agents in Singapore sold more than double the region’s average of cruise tours at 28% versus 11% for the region.
· India led the region in selling more spa packages (19%) compared to the region’s average (10%).
· The countries where shopping and sightseeing contributed the most to package tours were Thailand (69%) and Taiwan (65%).
· Of the countries surveyed, more travel agents in Malaysia (87%) recommended travel insurance to their business customers.
· Travel recommendations for car hire and rail has increased three fold in Malaysia, China and India suggesting a new acceptance for a more cost effective means of travel.
· Overall, cash or cheque was the preferred payment method making up 46% of transactions, due to increased bank service charges levied on credit card payments to retail travel agents. Cash on delivery (COD) was common in Indonesia (72%) and Malaysia (52%), while Singapore had the highest percentage of payments made by credit cards (46%).
· Repeat customers were a major source of business for retail travel agents with two-thirds of total enquiries coming from existing clients. The markets with the highest share of repeat business were Malaysia (75%) and India (74%).
· Online bookings comprised of just 10% of travel agents’ total reservations, showing that travel agents have not yet taken full advantage of an online presence. The countries with the highest percentage of travel agencies with online capabilities came from Malaysia (78%), China (70%) and India (60%) while Indonesia (31%) and the Philippines (30%) had the least online interaction with customers.