As many as 89% of Thais surveyed said they have traveled overseas for leisure in the past two years, logging in five trips in the period, and spending about THB44,000 per trip, according to the latest Visa Global Travel Intentions Study conducted earlier this year.
For Thailand, the Visa Global Travel Intentions Study had a sample size of 503 and was conducted by Millward Brown on behalf of Visa. It surveyed travelers aged 18 years and above from January to February 2015.
The survey shows that Thai travelers typically embark on shorter regional trips, demonstrated by the top destinations in the past two years: Japan, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, and South Korea, in that order.
An average trip lasts six nights and takes five hours of journey time, while almost half of the travelers, who travel with companions, preferred to travel with a group of friends or colleagues rather than with their partners and spouses.
Comparing global travelers to Thais, almost three in five travel as couples (58%) while just over one third of Thais do the same (36%).
Financial behaviors too differ between Thai travelers and their counterparts.
“Thais are more inclined to find travel deals that reflect their budgets compared to global travelers. While both spend the majority of their money during the trip, interestingly Thais use credit cards more at destinations,” said Somboon Krobteeranon, Country Manager, Visa Thailand.
The study, conducted with 13,603 travelers across 25 markets including Thailand, identifies a host of changing habits and preferences among travelers around the world, notably in how they plan, budget and spend during their trips. However, a consistent preference to use Visa card as their primary credit card at destinations remained across all age groups.
Since the study was last carried out in 2013, more Thai travelers than ever are carrying their cards to their destination, with 98% of travelers now including at least one payment card in their holiday wallet, higher than both global (93%) and APAC (95%) averages.
They overwhelmingly prefer to pay with their credit cards when booking their trip (60%), as opposed to just one in four who pays via money transfer, citing security and personal preference as reasons for their inclination towards credit card payment.
Independent Thai travelers are most likely to book their trip online (81%). When at their destination, over three-quarters of Thai travelers use their credit card for payments, higher than the global average (68%).
While most Thai travelers budget carefully during the planning stage (59%), in line with global preferences, more than two-thirds do not mind going over budget if there is an activity or experience at the destination that catches their imagination (68%).
Thai travelers were found to spend the most on shopping (31%), dining (22%), and accommodation (10%). Credit card was the preferred payment method for purchases at luxury brand retailers and high-end restaurants. In general, larger ticket items were typically paid for by payment card.
Different Groups, Different Habits
As more Thais travel overseas for leisure, they also intend to spend significantly more while on holiday. Overall, they expect their holiday budget to jump from THB 44,000 on their last trip to THB 83,000 for their next overseas adventure.
The study delves into the behaviors of different demographics, and distinct habits are apparent between different age-groups with Millennials (18 to 35 years old), Mature Professionals (36 to 44 years old), and “Superboomers” (over 45 years) all displaying unique characteristics when both planning their trip and while on holiday.
For example, Superboomers expect to increase their expenditure the most, with a 92% boost in their holiday spend for their next trip compared to their most recent ones. On the other hand, Millennials expect the smallest jump in spending with just a 15% increase.
Millennials are more likely to start with a budget and find a destination that suits their spending ability (61%), however they are willing to spend extra during their trip if they could find the right experience (73%). In the next two year, Millennials stated that they intend to travel on up to six international trips, 1.5 times the number of trips that Superboomers plan to take.
As might be expected, each group has clear differences in the kind of holiday experiences they are after. Superboomers prefer to travel on package tours while the younger Millennials prefer to be more independent. Safety is an important factor when Millennials choose their accommodation (66%), while Mature Professionals value convenience (70%), and affordability drives Superboomers’ choices (62%). During their trip, Mature Professionals show a greater preference for shopping (70%) while Millennials (62%) and Superboomers’ (74%) main preference is for sightseeing.
Cash might still be king in Thailand, making up about 75% of consumer expenditure, but card payments are gaining ground, as evident that almost all Thai travelers (98%) carry payment cards with them.