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At home or on holiday, the rich need a constant link to their bank

Affluent traveler habits revealed in Visa’s Global Travel Intentions Study 2013

SINGAPORE – It seems those with deeper pockets are the ones that pay their money the most attention regardless of where they are. Affluent travelers want access to internet banking while on holiday – a requirement less important to the general traveler according to Visa’s Global Travel Intentions Study 2013.

Affluent travelers apparently do not “switch off” on holiday. They require constant contact with others with 64 percent accessing their emails and 45 percent accessing instant messaging platforms during their travels. While still used, activities like sharing photos and surfing the web for leisure are less important among the affluent when they travel – dropping to 34 percent and 31 percent respectively.

Predictably, this group also loves their devices, carrying higher-end gadgets such as DSLR cameras (32 percent) and lifestyle devices such as e-book readers (12 percent) and tablets (37 percent) when they travel.

Bolder destination choices

While upscale travelers have a particular destination in mind while planning for their trips, they are becoming bolder when it comes to exploring unchartered terrains with eight out of 10 affluent travelers indicating in Visa’s Study that they will visit new destinations in the future.

They will be trendsetters in growing visitor numbers to beach destinations in East Africa. When asked which countries in East Africa they would consider traveling to 44 percent chose Mauritius and 40 percent listed Madagascar – compared to the global average of 33 percent.

Considering the affluent take more holidays a year – an average of four trips a year – despite the propensity to explore new destinations, modernized cities of the USA, UK and Australia still top their top holiday destinations for the next year.

Affluent travelers enjoy independent holidays and are more willing to pay extra for someone to help arrange a customized holiday.

“The definition of luxury has evolved, and today it is more about experiences than about possessions,” said James Lim, Head of Consumer Products, Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, Visa. “While exclusivity and high quality service remain essential in reaching out to the affluent, the new tide of affluent travelers who are bolder in their choices demand a sense of adventure and personalized experiences to meet their individual interests. They want to discover places, cultures, and experiences unknown to others. Understanding their needs, Visa designs bespoke travel itineraries and exclusive privileges at luxury hotels and resorts for our premium cardholders.”

They will spend even more on travel

Good weather (35 percent), rich culture (31 percent) and good attractions (31 percent) rate as the affluent traveler’s three most important reasons for destination choice. The world’s wealthy also travel further (35 percent take long-haul trips compared to the global average of 29 percent) and for longer, as they are more likely to spend at least five to seven nights at their destination.

Spending habits once they reach their destinations are also evolving, with average spending per trip expected to jump almost 30 percent from US$3,465 to US$4,501 for future trips. Like most groups, they spend heavily on retail (30 percent), dining (25 percent) and activities (22 percent), but spend significantly higher than the global average at medium and large retailers, high-end restaurants and on entertainment and nightlife. 52 percent use payment cards to make these purchases – well above the global average of 40 percent.

The affluent are also the most likely to holiday with their families, as 75 percent travel with relatives compared to the global average of 69 percent. In addition, a higher percentage purchase first and business class flights and book accommodation in luxury hotels of four stars and above.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.