Marriott International identifies new luxury travel segment, ‘Native Explorers’

Millennial and Gen Z travellers are bucking the trends of the generations who came before them

Image courtesy of Marriott International.

A regional survey conducted by global luxury hospitality leader Marriott International has found affluent millennial and Gen Z travellers in the Asia Pacific region are bucking the travel trends of the generations who came before them. While their predecessors may be saving up for long-haul travel later in life, Gen Z and millennials are already well-travelled at a younger age, with one in four notching up two continents outside of Asia Pacific by the time they hit 26. The survey was conducted across Australia, China, Japan, India, Singapore, and South Korea and was commissioned to better understand the attitudes of affluent millennial and Gen Z travellers, and to help luxury brands meet the evolving aspirations of this demographic. As a result, Marriott International has coined a new term to refer to this emerging segment, Native Explorers.

Who – or what – is a Native Explorer?

The term ‘Native Explorers’ refers to luxury Gen Z and millennial travellers with an intrinsic desire to explore, who have already travelled the globe in their youth and are now seeking destinations in their native region. Despite having the means to travel internationally, they plan to spend their travel dollars closer to home for at least the next two years, as 85% believe that they have yet to fully discover all the region has to offer.

With their sights firmly set on holidays closer to home, Native Explorers rank Japan (52%), South Korea (42%), and New Zealand (39%) as their top three travel destinations. They are also seeking out the new in familiar hotspots such as Australia (39%) and Thailand (32%) through a culture-centric lens.

Woman standing beneath paper lanterns
Image courtesy of Marriott International.

How Native Explorers are influencing the industry

“Globally, we’re seeing an undeniable shift among travellers towards more meaningful, one-of-a-kind experiences in both new and familiar destinations. This is particularly evident in Asia Pacific from our findings on Gen Z and Millennials’ travel patterns and behaviours,” said Bart Buiring, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Marriott International Asia Pacific. “With young affluent travellers in Asia Pacific gravitating towards under-the-radar holidays and culturally-rich itineraries, we’re expanding our luxury portfolio in the region’s most sought-after destinations like Nara, Sydney and Jiuzhaigou in China with a target of opening 12 properties in 2023 alone.”

Rissai Valley hotel
Rissai Valley, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve. Image courtesy of Marriott International.

Key takeaways

  • 37% of respondents called out human connection, genuine hospitality, and being part of a community as critical components of luxury travel.
  • 58% believe once-in-a-lifetime experiences are what make the luxury travel experience, such as VIP access to sold-out concerts, and exclusive culinary workshops with celebrity chefs.
  • More than 50% of respondents believe service excellence and state-of-the-art facilities are key tenets of luxury travel.
  • 32% of respondents believe bespoke services are an essential criteria of consideration when selecting top-end accommodation, such as a dedicated travel advisor or tailored itineraries and customised amenities.
  • Nine out of 10 respondents prefer to explore the destination with assistance from their luxury hotel, rather than research and hire a local guide of their own.
  • 45% prefer to sample local cuisine through the property’s gourmet dining
  • 39% want to experience the local culture through the hotel’s curated programming
  • 34% are keen to try local wellness rituals available at the hotel spa.
  • 76% of respondents opt for hotels and resorts with destination-inspired concepts.

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