Each time, I went for three of my most ambitious trips in last seven years, I went alone. I not only enjoyed it but I also was aware that I was just the part of a growing trend. It only gets more and more confirmed now. 40% of travellers based in India intend to “go solo” when they travel, as compared to 25% of Asia Pacific travelers, reveals a recent study by Hilton Honors, the award-winning guest loyalty program of global travel and hospitality company Hilton.
The research – surveying close to 1,120 avid travellers aged between 20-45 in India and segmented by life stage – explored the travel motivations, aspirations and expectations of the country’s most active travellers. The primary motivation for 66% of these intrepid travellers is to experience “life-changing moments” that push them out of their comfort zone and challenge them to think differently.
“Travel is undoubtedly an important part of life for Indians, across all life stage segments,” said Manish Tolani, vice president and commercial director, India, Hilton. “They take more trips overseas than their Asia Pacific counterparts and for them, travel plays a formative part in shaping their personality and identity. Solo Travellers, in particular, also recognise that their travel objectives have changed. By traveling to a new destination on their own, the sense of complete freedom encourages them to discover themselves.” The November 2019 study, which surveyed avid travellers living in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune, revealed some key insights pertaining to Solo Travellers:
Indian Solo Travelers are mindful adventurers
The study revealed they pursue more authentic travel experiences that allow them to travel consciously. Experiences in nature top the list of things Indian Solo Travellers are seeking more of (68%), followed by sustainability (67%). Solo Travellers are also more likely than other Indian travellers to seek ways to nurture their spirituality (66%) and embark on volunteering opportunities (62%). According to the study, the Singles segment of Indian travellers appear to be prioritising wellness and self-care – as compared to Couples, they are more likely to seek out experiences not only in nature, but also try their hand at sports, outdoor adventures and wellness activities. For example, 70% of Singles surveyed seek out wellness experiences at their travel destinations, as compared to 63% of Couples.
Australia is the top Asia Pacific destination of interest
Indians are passionate travellers – a whopping 93% state that “My life would be boring if I didn’t travel.” “Feeling unfulfilled if I don’t travel frequently” is more pronounced among Solo Travellers (93%) versus Non-solo Travellers (87%), so it is not surprising that Indian Solo Travellers prefer to travel overseas, looking to destinations that are further afield to satisfy their thirst for adventure.
Australia is the most popular overseas destination in the Asia Pacific region for Indian travellers across all segments, with other destinations falling far behind. According to the study, the top destination Indian travellers are most excited to visit in the next 12 months is Australia (31%), compared to Europe (13%), Singapore (11%), Malaysia (7%) and New Zealand (6%). In Australia, Indian Solo Travellers are more likely to be interested in destinations that are off the beaten track, such as Cairns and Byron Bay. Beautiful beaches and spectacular natural landscapes are key draws to Australia for these travellers.
Indian Solo Travelers like to be seen as experts
As frequent travellers, Indian Solo Travellers look for unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and are drawn towards outstanding natural beauty and sustainable options. The study also revealed that two in three Solo Travellers say they like to be recognised as travel experts. However, most Solo Travellers (95%) find the planning process overwhelming, so seek out recommendations from travel agents, online reviews or loved ones on the most interesting things to see and do in a destination.
“It’s clear that travel is no longer just about a beach getaway or an overseas shopping spree. Travellers are on a mission to collect as many adventures and unique experiences as possible. This isn’t just because they want shareworthy content to post online, but also because they want to feel productive and that they’ve made the most of their time. By constantly engaging in new experiences, going to new places, and stepping outside of their norm, they feel that they’re regularly progressing in becoming more well-rounded as well as more knowledgeable individuals,” said Sarah Somerville, senior director, customer engagement, Loyalty and Partnerships, Asia Pacific, Hilton.
“Since 2016, Hilton Honors has been offering unique, money-can’t-buy experiences to our loyal guests in Asia Pacific through our Hilton Honors Experiences platform,” Somerville continued. “Members can redeem the Points they accrue to gain VIP access to sporting events, sold-out concerts, and curated experiences, such as an exclusive meeting and dinner with a world-renowned sushi chef in Tokyo, a behind-the-scenes tour of Bollywood’s Film City, finding yourself at a wellness retreat in Shillim, swimming with saltwater crocodiles in Darwin, or taking a helicopter tour of the Great Barrier Reef. Many of these specially curated experiences empower today’s travellers to travel authentically and get a glimpse of the destination’s local culture.”
Moreover, the award-winning Hilton Honors mobile app puts members in control of personalising their travel experience. Members can digitally check-in before hotel arrival and select the room of their choice from a digital floor plan. Upon arrival, the mobile app also serves as a Digital Key at more than 4,600 properties worldwide, allowing members to use their smartphones to access their room, fitness center, pool and other hotel areas that traditionally require key-card access.
In addition to the above findings with reference to Solo Travellers, the report revealed some interesting insights about Indian travellers across demographics, broken down by segments such as Couples, Young Families and Older Families:
Indian travellers and tech
Indian travellers see technology’s main benefits as improving the travel experience, helping them build knowledge and making travel more fun.
· Over half of Indian travellers feel that hotel brands could adopt more tech to help manage their trip, such as push notifications on their mobile devices or digital check-in for a more seamless travel experience
· Indian travellers are also more likely to value personalisation than Asia Pacific travellers, such as in-room entertainment that is tailored to hotel guest’s preferences
· Almost half of Indian travellers perceive virtual reality (VR) as the key source that could help them learn more about travel destinations
· Young Families are more likely than others to use augmented reality (AR) / VR tours, viewing them as being “more fun”
Indian travellers are conscious adventurers
Like many of their fellow avid travellers across Asia Pacific, Indian travellers are interested in experiencing local culture and taking part in activities that give a glimpse into an authentically “local” way of life.
· Where they stand out significantly from their Asia Pacific counterparts is their interest in sustainability when they travel and their desire to give something back
· Two-thirds of Indian travellers say “sustainability and environmental friendliness” impact their destination choice, compared to 39% across Asia Pacific
· Increased interest in conscious travel may be behind their desire to seek out travel experiences that allow them to get closer to nature and/or volunteer to give back to the local community
Aussie holiday: most sought-after for Indian travellers
Australia is the most popular destination in Asia Pacific for Indian travellers, across all segments.
• Sydney and Melbourne top the list among all Indian travellers
• Sydney and Gold Coast are more popular with Young Families
• Melbourne and Perth are more attractive to Older Families
What is your take? Do you prefer to travel solo? What are the moments of travelling solo, tat you cherish? Tell us in the comments section below.
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