Industry Update
Press Release24 January 2020

Going Solo: More Indian Travelers Intend to Travel Alone, Inspired by Mindfulness, Nature and Sustainability

Latest study by Hilton Honors reveals Indian travelers’ primary motivations to travel

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Hilton Worldwide Family/group

DELHI, India - 40% of travelers 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.

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The research — surveying close to 1,120 avid travelers aged between 20 - 45 in India and segmented by life stage — explored the travel motivations, aspirations and expectations of the country's most active travelers. The primary motivation for 66% of these intrepid travelers 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 Travelers, in particular, also recognize 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 travelers living in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune, revealed some key insights pertaining to Solo Travelers:

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 Travelers are seeking more of (68%), followed by sustainability (67%). Solo Travelers are also more likely than other Indian travelers to seek ways to nurture their spirituality (66%) and embark on volunteering opportunities (62%).

According to the study, the Singles segment of Indian travelers appear to be prioritizing 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 travelers — 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 Travelers (93%) versus Non-solo Travelers (87%), so it is not surprising that Indian Solo Travelers 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 travelers across all segments, with other destinations falling far behind. According to the study, the top destination Indian travelers 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 Travelers 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 travelers.

As frequent travelers, Indian Solo Travelers 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 Travelers say they like to be recognized as travel experts. However, most Solo Travelers (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. Travelers 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 travelers 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 personalizing 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.

Additional Insights on Indian Travelers

In addition to the above findings with reference to Solo Travelers, the report revealed some interesting insights about Indian travelers across demographics, broken down by segments such as Couples, Young Families and Older Families:

Indian travelers and tech

Indian travelers see technology's main benefits as improving the travel experience, helping them build knowledge and making travel more fun.

  • Over half of Indian travelers 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 travelers are also more likely to value personalization than Asia Pacific travelers, such as in-room entertainment that is tailored to hotel guests' preferences
  • Almost half of Indian travelers 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 travelers are conscious adventurers

Like many of their fellow avid travelers across Asia Pacific, Indian travelers 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 travelers 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 travelers

Australia is the most popular destination in Asia Pacific for Indian travelers, across all segments.

  • Sydney and Melbourne top the list among all Indian travelers
  • Sydney and Gold Coast are more popular with Young Families
  • Melbourne and Perth are more attractive to Older Families

Methodology: Hilton Honors commissioned a quantitative survey of 1,100 respondents from India who traveled for leisure at least 3 times in the last 12 months, and intended to take another 3 trips in the coming 12 months. The survey was conducted between 20 September - 11 October 2019, and respondents were aged between 20-45 who came from 5 key cities in India (New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune). Life stages were broken down by Singles, Couples (with a partner/spouse and no children), Young Families (aged 20-35 with a partner/spouse and at least one child) and Older Families (aged 36-45 with a partner/spouse and at least one child). Aside from life stages, we have also captured "Solo Travelers" as a key audience to focus on (those intending to travel alone throughout the whole journey, for at least one trip in the next 12 months).

This in-depth study follows Hilton Honors APAC-wide quantitative survey of 2,300 respondents that traveled for leisure at least 3 times in the last 12 months, and intended to take another 3 trips in the coming 12 months. Respondents were aged between 20-45 and came from 11 Asia Pacific countries: Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.

About Hilton Honors

Hilton Honors is the award-winning guest loyalty program for Hilton's 17 world-class brands comprising nearly 6,000 properties in 117 countries and territories. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount, and free standard WiFi. Members also enjoy popular digital tools available exclusively through the industry-leading Hilton Honors mobile app where Hilton Honors members can check-in, choose their room and access their room using Digital Key. Hilton Honors offers its more than 100 million members hundreds of ways to earn and redeem Points. Members can redeem their Points for free nights, premium merchandise and items on Amazon Shop with Points; make charitable contributions; or gain access to unique events through Hilton Honors Experiences, such as exclusive artist connections and VIP concerts with Live Nation®, and race experiences with McLaren Racing. The program is free to join, and travelers may enroll online by visiting www.hiltonhonors.com. Connect with Hilton Honors at newsroom.hilton.com/hiltonhonors, and follow Hilton Honors on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About Hilton

Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 18 world-class brands comprising more than 6,100 properties with more than 977,000 rooms, in 118 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its mission to be the world's most hospitable company, Hilton welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its 100-year history, earned a top spot on the 2019 World's Best Workplaces list, and was named the 2019 Global Industry Leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, more than 106 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can't buy, plus enjoy instant benefits, including digital check-in with room selection, Digital Key, and Connected Room. Visit newsroom.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

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Abhinandan Saikia
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