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European Travelers in Thailand: Why hoteliers should care about this growing market

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As the European weather starts to cool, the Expedia group, the world’s largest online travel company that includes AirAsiaGo.comHotels.com®wotif.com and other leading online travel brands, has revealed multi-generational travel habits from Thailand’s key European feeder markets, and the best ways for Thai hoteliers to reach, convert and engage with them.

Overall, British travelers led the growth with nearly 20% YoY increase, followed by Germans at 15% growth and French at almost 15%.[1]  European travelers are highly valuable as they book way in advance and tend to stay longer as compared to the average traveler.

“The British, French and German travelers produce the most European tourists into Thailand[2]. As temperatures in Europe drops, travelers will be thinking about where to take a long, affordable and quality holiday. If you look at how different generations research, book and undertake travel, OTAs are used predominantly for travel planning and is the lead resource for travel booking2. We want to help our hotel partners better tailor their offerings to attract this valuable group of travelers,” Pimpawee Nopakitgumjorn, director of market management at Expedia group said.

Technological developments have aided distinct differences in the ways in which Europe’s Generation Z (Age 18-23), Millennials (Age 24-35), Generation X (36-55) and Boomers (Age 55+) research, plan and book travel. Below are some highlights from the recent Expedia Media Solutions Research: European Multi-Generational Travel Trends report*.

·         Generation Z European Travelers

As one of the most budget-conscious generations, Gen Z is more likely to start the research and planning process without a set destination in mind. Nearly 80% of Gen Z said either they do not have a destination in mind or are deciding between two destinations. Compared to other generations, Gen Z use their smartphones more than other devices when they are looking for travel inspiration (63%) and while on their vacation (76%).

Pimpawee recommends hoteliers looking to inspire and attract more Gen Z travelers to be visible on mobile devices and participate in uploading mobile promotions across Expedia brands to effectively reach and convert these travelers.

“We are helping our hotel partners reach travelers in the way that they want to shop. Over 45% of our worldwide traffic[3] is generated via mobile devices and one in three transactions  booked globally was made via mobile[4].” said Pimpawee.

While 72% of Gen Z travelers said taking risks and crossing things off their bucket list is imperative, 60% are interested in trips that offer naps on the beach and all-day relaxation. This is in line with Expedia’s data which reveals that lesser known beach resorts such as Koh Lipe, Rayong and Trat have seen a surge in demand with nearly 50% year-on-year growth[5].

It is also interesting to note that these three destinations grew faster than the mainstream tourist destinations which are also performing positively – Bangkok (+40%), Phuket (+15%), Pattaya (+30%) and Chiang Mai (+25%).

·         Millennial European Travelers

Millennials travelled more frequently than other generations, taking on average 4.3 trips per year. While they took the most number of trips, their trips were also the shortest in duration. When asked about their last vacation, Millennial respondents indicated that their last trip averaged 8.5 days. Nearly 90% of them say they look for the best deals when booking a trip, which is in accordance with Expedia’s group data which reveals that 3 out of 4 bookings[6] made by German, UK and French travelers via Expedia group travel sites to Thailand were made via travel deals.

In terms of interests, millennial European travelers look for cultural experiences, exploring the outdoors, family trips and romantic getaways. Majority in this group (70%) has indicated that they are most likely to opt for ‘off the beaten path’ locations and recommendations from locals (70%). Expedia’s hotel partners can now utilize EPC Points of Interests, accessible on Expedia PartnerCentral (EPC), the partner-facing website for Expedia’s hotel partners, to create a custom list of cultural landmarks, unique activities and experiences that are available around the hotel’s local neighbourhood. Customisable POIs enable hotels to differentiate themselves across Expedia’s portfolio of travel brands.

·         Gen X European Travelers

Gen X travelers are family-oriented and more likely than other generations to use reviews and informative content from brands while researching and booking a trip. Almost 85% read reviews of places they want to visit before deciding.

“Over the years, we have built up a substantial collection of verified hotel reviews from guests who have booked a stay at our websites. We publish these reviews to assist consumers in making their accommodation choice as they are hearing first-hand from others who have stayed at the hotel. This helps them to make informed decisions before they book.” said Pimpawee.

Expedia’s hotel partners can also utilise EPC Real-Time Feedback, a feature on Expedia PartnerCentral that enables them to receive feedback from guests who are currently staying at their property. After the guests arrive at a hotel, they will receive an email or app notification asking them three questions: “How was your check in?;” “How is your room?” and “Are you happy with the location?” Hoteliers will have the opportunity to receive guest feedback while they are still staying at the property and can correct any poor service or make up for it while guests are still on-site and before they post a tell-all negative review on Expedia or other review sites.

·         Baby Boomer European Travelers

Boomers are a highly valuable group for hoteliers. They not only take the longest trips at 10.5 days per vacation, they are also the least budget-conscious with only 54% citing budget as a factor when planning their last trip. During the pre-trip planning and booking phases, they rely on OTAs (54%) more than any other resources with computers being their preferred device. Trip activities, cultural experiences and feeling pampered during their vacation topped the priority list for Boomers.

As half of the Boomers cite informative content as valuable for them, Pimpawee recommends updating online hotel content with highquality photos, providing comprehensive and detailed information on local activities as key to attracting Boomers. Hoteliers can also utilise Expedia PartnerCentral Conversations (EPC Conversations) to directly communicate with guests prior to their arrival, providing them the opportunity to share more about the hotel services they offer including the opportunity for paid room upgrades, book a spa session at the hotel or make a reservation at one of the hotel restaurants.