Award-winning guest loyalty program of global travel and hospitality brand Hilton Honors recently conducted a study on APAC Travelers. The research found 80 percent of Asia Pacific travelers their “love of travel is a huge part of how they define themselves.” Among three fourths of these travelers aspire to be a “travel expert in their social circle.”

The research surveyed 2,300 avid travelers aged between 20 to 45 in from 11 Asia Pacific countries. The study comprises an extensive quantitative data of the travelers and in depth interview with Generation Y travel taste-makers. Three key themes that emerged from the research were travel and the role it plays in identity, technology and the future of travel, and the importance of experiential travel:

Travel and Identity Defined by Travel

Identity: 89 percent feel “being able to travel is a point of pride […]”, with 88 percent saying their “love of travel is a huge part of how they define themselves”.

This was even more true to Young Families, defined as 20 to 35 year old couples with children at 91 percent, Singles at 85 percent, and Couples at 82 percent.

The sentiment of travel being formative to identity is strongest in Indonesia at 97 percent, India at 95 percent, Philippines and Thailand at 94 percent, and lastly Vietnam at 92 percent.

The Antidote to Ignorance: Respondents feel that traveling empowers people, making them more “knowledgeable” (55 percent), and “open minded” (51 percent).

One traveler commented  “What truly motivates me to travel is the excitement, the urge to experience different cultures, food, to meet new people and live their lives for those few days. […], traveling is the solution to ignorance.”

Social Currency and Expertise: Three fourths of APAC travelers would love to be a travel 'expert' within their social circle and the first to discover new locations.

Wanting to be “the first one of their friends to visit or experience a destination” is more significant to Young Families (82 percent), followed by Singles (69 percent) and Couples (59 percent).

Technology and the Future of Travel

The study found that word of mouth (55 percent), online travel publications (50 percent), official tourism websites and social media accounts of inner circles ( both 49 percent), serve as travel inspiration for today’s travelers. However, it is worth noting that APAC travelers anticipate a role for technology tomorrow - with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) being essential in enhancing a more exciting and immersive experience:

Virtual Fun: Two fifths travelers believe the use of VR and AR can help make travel more fun in the future. 45 percent saw the potential of virtual influencers influencing their next destination.

Immersive Inspiration: 50 percent of travelers would be enticed by VR or AR tours of their prospective destination to get inspired for their holiday.

Smooth Sailing: Over half of APAC travelers feel that technology can be adopted to speed up check-in and manage their whole trip better.

Young Families are more likely to see the benefit of tech being used by updating them with push alerts (48 percent), offering inspiration on destinations (49 percent), and delivering tailored in-room entertainment (40 percent).

The Importance of Experiential Travel

Making It Count: Two thirds travelers seek “once-in-a-lifetime experiences” as key to their desired travel. This is largely driven by younger travelers (73 percent of 20-to-24-year-olds).

Extraordinary Experiences: The “uniqueness of the destination or experience” has the most influence on deciding where people want to travel (55 percent). This is especially true to Young Families (63 percent) than Singles or Couples (both 48 percent), and to travelers from Indonesia (76 percent), Philippines (71 percent), Vietnam (67 percent) and India (66 percent).

Tracing the Roots of Local Cuisine: “Visiting a local food market to learn and pick your own ingredients for an authentic meal” is by far the top experience that APAC travelers desire at 38 percent.

Access and Authenticity: VIP experiences associated with “Private Access” (73 percent) and “Local Culture and Authenticity” (71 percent) both play important roles in attracting travelers to visit a new or different destination.

Region of Japanophiles: APAC travelers' continue to favor Japan as their top bucket list of travel destinations, with Australia ranking not far behind. However, beyond Japan's “spectacular landscape”, “local experiences” around culture and cuisine have strong influence in attracting them to visit.