The tourism industry at present is undergoing a disruption that can be likened to when digital apps entered the retail market. For luxury travel companies who want to target South Asians living in the US, this emphasizes the need to adopt a hyper-relevant approach to their messaging and travel experience.
Aimed to personalize the customer interaction at every touchpoint, hyper-relevance can deliver a travel experience that matches expectations to the T. And with 90% of travelers advocating the importance of deep personalization, travel companies need to act fast.
State Of The Market
In 2019, the luxury travel market had a $945.6 billion valuation. By 2027, it is expected to reach $1,198.3 billion. And with the number of affluent South Asians projected to increase in the coming years, the luxury travel industry is set for a boom.
However, travel companies (especially traditional establishments), often fall short on the connectivity front, creating a relevancy gap. Key reasons reported include: not being able to meet expectations, over the digitization of key physical interactions, and misalignment of priorities.
Values That Matter
To succeed in attracting South Asian luxury travelers, companies need to personalize experiences based on the demographics and psychographics of the community. All communication needs to be structured and built on the relevant values. Key among them are age and religion.
South Asian culture has high regard for their elderly. The elders are respected and revered at all places. When travel companies look to provide services and attract an affluent South Asian, they need to come across as an organization that mirrors these values.
Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, and Buddhism are major religions. Travel companies that project an understanding of these religions and their customs, will always be preferred. For example, a Hindu will steer clear of beef and a Muslim traveler will not consume pork or wine. The meal packages for the trip need to cater to these beliefs. And if an elder comes along, it is more often going to require higher personalization.
Wooing The South Asian Luxury Traveler
It should be noted that most of the South Asians who have disposable income, came to the US, during the dot.com boom. In time, they have risen to the ranks of managers, CEOs, CXOs, and partners. But even with the increase in living standards and social status, most uphold their traditional values.
To become relevant to the affluent class of South Asians, travel companies should adhere to the following rules:
A travel package with images of a woman clad in a bejeweled sari with the Taj Mahal in the background may seem relevant to use, but for a South Asian, these images are not something they resonate with. There are various cultures and regions in South Asia. Communicating an understanding of them will bring great ROI from the campaign.
Bollywood music and imagery associated with it is another stereotype travel companies need to avoid. While everyone loves it, an affluent South Asian may want to experience something different while they are on a luxury trip.
Segment The Market
South Asians, while Asians are not Oriental. They are a blend of cultures consisting of different ethnic and religious groups—Mongoloid, Australoid, Caucasoid, and Negroid. To be relevant to them, travel companies should mold their messages that resonate with their cultures.
Offering staff experience in native languages is one example of being hyper-relevant. Other avenues where relevancy can be advocated include cuisines, entertainment, and gatherings.
Become Involved In The South Asian Community
Taking part in cultural events and programs organized by the South Asian community is a great way to expose the brand among them. Travel companies that frequent these scenes will inherently build a good rapport with the community. Attending fundraisers and charity functions is another way to become part of the close-knit community.
COVID-19 & Its Impact
The pandemic has put a stranglehold on most operations of luxury tourism companies. The last time such a big dent was formed in operations was in 2015 when the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak happened. But the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is far greater than any other. Airlines in wealthy economies like Britain and Singapore even declared bankruptcy while demanding aid.
Fortunately, the situation is slowly becoming better. 458 million people have been fully vaccinated, and travel companies are taking strict steps to get back on the wagon. Luxury cruises and adventure trips have started operations in many countries.
The type of luxury travel is also evolving. Affluent South Asians are choosing to travel not just exclusively for pleasure, but are looking to experiment. Workcations and similar trips are also rising in popularity.
Other avenues where South Asians will want to spend on a luxurious tour can be, trips back to their home country, layover in a work assignment, and annual family vacations.
The Future Of Luxury Tourism
Hyper-relevance may provide a competitive edge now, but as the days progress, it will become a necessity. Brands that do not revamp their communication and touch-points to meet expectations can slump to unimaginable lows.
The demand for luxury tourism may now be slow, but once a majority of the population is immunized, those with disposable incomes will want to spend them on a trip. At that moment, establishments that have built rapport with the South Asian community at large, will be big gainers.
South Asians place great value in brands that understand their expectations and meet them without gaps. Through experts in the South Asian niche such as FrontAd, brands can have an integrated marketing approach to reassure their audience of their capabilities.
Personalization will become the cornerstone of communication and successful campaigns. Travel companies that digitize appropriately without negating the human element stand to benefit greatly from the upcoming disruption.
Therefore, the need of the hour is to continue reaching out to the community and build brand value. Create an image of understanding of the culture and beliefs. The approach should be thoughtful, empathetic, personalized, and aimed at addressing key experiences that matter with hyper-relevant interactions.