September 25 2020  |  Airlines & Airports

New travel trends and retail spend behavior emerge in Asia

By Mary Jane Pittilla

Considerable change can be expected among both business and leisure travel and shopping behavior in Asia Pacific due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to research from m1nd-set.

The findings revealed in the latest shopper behavior report from the leading industry consumer insights research agency point to a certain reluctance to resume international air travel among travelers in the region.

The report reveals that among the most dominant segment traveler segment in the region – business travelers – around one third said they will be traveling less as a result of the pandemic. This is considerably higher than the global average (25%), m1nd-set reports.

The main concern among Asia Pacific business travelers was around health and safety. On a more positive note, only four out of 10 business travelers expressed concerns about flying internationally again, while 60% were quite excited about the prospect of resuming travel.

m1nd-set also underlines the fact that Asia Pacific travelers are more likely than the global average to resume travel within the first six months after travel bans are lifted (25% vs 21% globally).

Business travelers from across the region were near-unanimous about the need for stringent health and safety controls when travel resumes, such as masks and other personal protective equipment as well as health screenings. More than half of business travelers said they would request to limit their travel if the appropriate safety measures were not in place.

Destinations and travel type will inevitably change in the post-COVID era. Around three quarters of all Asia Pacific travelers said they would travel either domestically or on short-haul trips only when next flying, while only one in four would be willing to travel long-haul.

The group travel business model, which was popular among Chinese travelers in particular pre-COVID, will evolve as more than 60% of travelers from the region said they would not consider this type of travel option for the foreseeable future. Small group travel with less than 10 people will emerge as the most popular form, m1nd-set believes.

In terms of behavior at the airport and with regard to shopping, the m1nd-set Asia Pacific report demonstrates that a significant majority claim they will change their overall behavior at the airport (82% vs a global average of 78%).

Travelers from the region will also be more likely than global travelers to spend more time on their mobile phone, tablet or laptop while waiting at the airport (37% vs 32%), stay longer in the airline lounges (27% vs 22%) and spend more time in the food and beverage area (21% vs 17%).

Interaction with staff in the stores among Asia Pacific travelers will continue in the post-pandemic era, albeit taking precautions, such as wearing a mask and respecting social-distancing guidelines. In terms of their behavior in-store, a significant majority of Asia Pacific travelers said they would continue to test and try products (80%), which is in line with the global trend.

The importance expressed among Asia Pacific travelers on health and safety when next traveling, as the report reveals, is a call to action to invest in a more digitized and contactless retail experience for travelers in Asia Pacific, according to m1nd-set.

Peter Mohn, CEO and Owner at m1nd-set, said: “Consumers across the region are now, more than ever before, becoming more accustomed to contactless technology. We see a notable shift towards contactless services in airports, from biometric boarding in Beijing to contactless check-in in Singapore.

“Scanning QR codes – a phenomenon that has become natural and accepted among consumers as a result of the pandemic – provides the perfect opportunity for brands, retailers and even airports to engage with customers so they can receive all product or service information directly on their phone, without having to touch a screen that many other passengers have touched,” Mohn continued.

Boosting conversion

The report concludes with insights into the benefits of QR code technology as a means to target specific traveler segments and boost conversion. According to the report, special offers can be tailored to the nationality based on the language of the phone, enabling retailers to provide the bargain-hunter shopper profiles, such as Indian travelers, with special discounts, while offering other nationalities, who prefer gwps, incentives that will be more effective in triggering the purchase.

Mohn concluded: “Transactions after scanning a QR code can be conducted entirely from the customer’s mobile, allowing for a click-and-collect service for customers who are unwilling or uneasy about spending time in the store. The click-and-collect model enables shoppers to either browse online and purchase in-store or browse in-store and purchase online without having to engage with the cashier and pick-up in-store, or even opt for home-delivery if the retailer offers the service.”

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