The increasing number of online travel services, higher accessibility to the internet across a variety of devices and raised consumer awareness have had a profound impact on the travel habits of Hong Kongers over the past decade.
While online travel tools have made it easier than ever to plan and manage trips, even while on-the-go, the new mobile travel report from travel search engine KAYAK.com.hk reveals that even with technological innovation and Hong Kong’s love for mobile, the majority of avid travellers feel they spend more time planning travel than a decade ago and still turn to the computer for travel planning and booking.
Traditional travel agents are no longer inspiring Hong Kong travellers
Ten years ago, over half of Hong Kongers (56%) sought the advice of traditional travel agents for inspiration for their next getaway. Unsurprisingly, inspiration nowadays is mainly found online, with 58% of Hong Kong travellers consulting online travel agencies to plan their holiday, and 39% turning to social media and blogs for travel inspiration.
This number is even higher for travellers under 35 years old, where 57% turn to social media to ignite their travel aspirations. The computer is still the favourite device for gaining travel inspiration, with over one fifth of Hong Kongers searching on their smartphones, most likely during the commute time on the MTR or bus, using these opportunities to look up their next escape.
However, the internet and new technologies have apparently not helped Hong Kongers save time on travel planning, with 44% feeling they spend more time planning trips today than they did a decade ago.
What hasn’t changed over time, is that a significant 49% still prefer to ask family and friends for advice when planning an upcoming trip. No matter how many fantastic online travel sites there are, the opinions of their nearest and dearest still outrank the majority of online sources for inspiration.
Mobile is on the rise but 68% of Hong Kongers prefer to purchase on a computer
The survey revealed that in today’s digital world, the majority of Hong Kong travellers (84%) now book their trips online, of which two thirds (69%) are choosing to use an online travel agency. Meanwhile, the once-popular traditional travel agency is now visited by less than one quarter of Hong Kongers (22%), suggesting savvy travellers want to take their travel plans into their own hands and independently search and compare prices. Possibly due to the user-friendly interface and perception of a more secure environment, more Hong Kongers choose to book travel on a computer (68%) than a smartphone (19%).
Hong Kongers prefer a physical boarding pass when checking in
A decade ago, almost three quarters of Hong Kongers (74%) preferred to check-in at the airport and obtain their printed boarding pass there. Today, over one third of travellers (39%) prefer to check-in and print-off boarding passes at home, while one quarter will check-in online with their smartphone, and opt for a mobile boarding pass. Going mobile with the boarding pass is growing in popularity as airline apps and travel wallets make it easier to store and manage boarding passes, but it will clearly take some time before Hong Kongers go fully digital, with so many still enjoying having a physical boarding pass to hand.
Sharing travel via the digital world is common practice
While Hong Kong travellers shared their travel experiences with family and friends ten years ago, preferably in-person (62%), 37% enjoyed showing photo albums or slide shows of their trip. Only 14% used social media to share pictures or videos, compared to the more than one quarter (26%) who preferred to keep it traditional and sent postcards.
These days, sharing travel experiences via social media has overtaken traditional forms. For 72% of Hong Kong travellers, instant experience-sharing is the way to go, reflecting the response to the number of social channels, chat based apps and online sharing platforms now available. For this they also prefer to use their smartphone (48%) over a computer (47%).
Debby Soo, Vice President APAC at KAYAK, says: “Consumers rely on their smart devices in every area of their lives and travelling is no different. As the role of mobile grows in every step of the travel cycle, we at KAYAK pride ourselves on adapting to our users’ needs. We provide the technology they demand to plan and manage their travel in a seamless and intuitive way.
“Our mobile app is the best example, as it is designed to give travellers the information they need before they book, and assist them throughout their trip, including features to organise and manage itineraries with Trips.”