Asian Travellers are Changing – European Tour Operators Need to Adapt to their Unique Needs

Ahead of the Arival 360 Conference in Berlin, which takes place from March 2-4, Asian tourism industry leaders are urging the European industry to prepare for an influx of Asian travellers

Ahead of the Arival 360 Conference in Berlin, which takes place from March 2-4, Asian tourism industry leaders are urging the European industry to prepare for an influx of Asian travellers. But they are warning that travellers are hugely diverse – and what they want to do on holiday is profoundly different compared with pre-pandemic.

Hundreds of representatives from companies across the tours, activities, attractions and experiences sectors are expected to attend the Arival 360 conference next month. Hot topics will include sustainability, innovation in the experiences sector, and the diversification of attractions companies. Many of the industry’s leading influencers and executives have confirmed as speakers, including HotelBeds, Game of Thrones Studio and Holiday Extras.

These are the top three tips from the APAC industry to European tour operators:

Understand cultural differences – European operators need to gain market expertise if they are to win over the Asian traveler.
“To attract Asian travellers, tour operators should understand and respect cultural differences, as Asian markets have diverse behaviours and needs,” said Taka Mitamura, Director of Global Communications and Business Initiatives, at Japanese online travel agency, Veltra, Veltra. “Partnering with OTAs that have expertise in their respective markets can be a game-changer, as they can provide valuable insights into the preferences and behaviours of travellers from their region. Additionally, providing themed tours or experiences tailored to specific interests can effectively capture the attention of this market. It’s all about creating a personalised and respectful experience that meets their unique needs and preferences.”

Don’t think of Asia as one market – Tour operators should target specific countries, and be prepared to offer highly localised content

“Asia represents huge potential, yet it is very diverse,” said Ricky So, Chief Commercial Officer of Singapore Airlines’ activities, tours and experiences platform, Pelago. “Knowing exactly which countries you are targeting is key. Localisation goes beyond simply adapting your content to their languages. It also cuts across food preferences, considerations of transportation, payment options, and so forth.

Invest in social media – it’s the best way to reach localised communities

“Regarding distribution of your products, localisation also means being available in the social media platforms your audience frequent, or showing up in local content they follow,” So advised. “Tourism Boards and Online Travel Agents invest significantly into these aspects and are great partners for operators, which might otherwise have limited resources to localise their marketing efforts. Operators that successfully expand into Asia are often very deliberate in who they are targeting and then adjusting their program and distribution efforts to match that.”

To further help tour operators appeal to the new influx of Asian travellers, this year’s Arival 360 event will see its popular Attractions Forum brought to Europe for the first time. The forum will help attractions businesses tackle issues like technology, over-tourism and how to develop successful guest experiences for visitor attractions, large operators and cultural institutions.
The Arival 360 Conference will take place at the Estrel Berlin, one of the largest convention hotels in Berlin, from March 2-4. Delegates can register here.