Say hello to the ‘Native Explorers’ a term coined by global luxury hospitality brand, Marriott International, to describe “a tribe of affluent millennial and Gen Z travelers in Asia Pacific who are bucking the trend by traveling in reverse order to generations before them.”
According to a regional survey, unlike the previous generation, rather than saving up for more costly long-haul travel later in life, Native Explorers are already well-traveled at a younger age, with one in four notching up no less than two continents outside of Asia Pacific by the time they hit 26.
The survey found that Native Explorers say they will be spending 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.
The survey, conducted across Australia, China, Japan, India, Singapore, and South Korea was commissioned to better understand the attitudes of affluent millennial and Gen Z travelers and help luxury brands meet their evolving aspirations.
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, while they are also seeking out the new in familiar hotspots such as Australia (39%) and Thailand (32%) through a culture-centric lens.
Although one in four Native Explorers would prefer to beat the jetlag and pick nearby, fuss-free holidays, their sense of adventure shouldn’t be underestimated, says Mariott International, adding that 43% look for nature escapes and wellness experiences and 36% are looking for hidden cultural gems they have yet to discover.
Native Explorers say they will be spending 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.
“Globally, we’re seeing an undeniable shift among travelers towards more meaningful, one-of-a-kind experiences in both new and familiar destinations,” said Bart Buiring, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Marriott International Asia Pacific.
“This is particularly evident in Asia Pacific from our findings on Gen Z and Millennials’ travel patterns and behaviors.”
“With young affluent travelers 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.”
Luxury defined by authentic connections and experience, with craft still key
According to the survey, Native Explorers are redefining what luxury travel means – from elusive and exclusive to meaningful connections and experiences. The survey found that as they transition towards understated and authentic holidays, one in three respondents (37%) called out human connection, genuine hospitality, and being part of a community as critical components of luxury travel.
The majority (58%) believe once-in-a-lifetime experiences and pinch-me moments are what make the luxury travel experience. Top picks include VIP access to sold-out concerts of their favorite artists (52%) and exclusive culinary workshops with celebrity chefs (36%).
The survey also found that craftsmanship remains crucial to luxury travel with over 50% believe service excellence and state-of-the-art facilities are key tenets.
Personalization remains a key deciding factor in choosing a luxury hotel, with 32% expecting bespoke services such as a dedicated travel advisor and 32% preferring to stay with hotels that offer tailored itineraries and customized amenities.
Explore destinations through luxury hotel comforts
Caught between their desires to discover and luxuriate, nine in 10 respondents prefer to explore the destination with assistance from their luxury hotel, rather than research and hire a local guide of their own, said the Mariott International report, adding that almost half (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, and 34% are keen to try local wellness rituals available at the hotel spa.
Native Explorers’ thirst for cultural discovery extends to their accommodation choices, with a majority (76%) of respondents opting for hotels and resorts with destination-inspired concepts.
All images via Marriott International