EXPERIENCES emerged as the new coveted currency for the next generation of travelers.

A survey by travel and experiences platform Klook revealed that 85 percent of millennials and Gen Z in Asia Pacific (APAC) are willing to spend and invest in unique experiences over flights and accommodations.

They increasingly seek to immerse in nature, indulge in outdoor adventures, partake in enriching cultural experiences, and invest in massages and rejuvenating hot springs.

Millennials, also called Generation Y or Gen Y, are those born between 1981 and 1996 while Generation Z or Gen Z are those born between the mid-1990s and mid-2010s who are described as “confident users of new technology.”

The Klook Travel Pulse survey was conducted in July 2023 through Milieu with a total of 2,400 respondents across 12 markets including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Mainland China and India.

The survey said these young post-pandemic travelers are willing to spend big. One in three millennial and Gen Z travelers are willing to spend more than double the average monthly income in Asia (US$1,069) on their next holiday, which amounts to $2,000 and more. The biggest spenders come from mainland China and Hong Kong.

They are also becoming more intentional when they travel with 65 percent planning their holidays two to six months in advance with Singaporeans and Australians as top planners.

Japan, Thailand and Singapore emerged as their top wishlist destinations in APAC.

Moreover, the new breed of travelers uses social media as their number one tool for inspiration and planning. The survey revealed that social media is used by more than half of Gen Zs in Asia Pacific. Nine out of 10 check online reviews and recommendations on social media before booking.

PH travel trends

Early this year, Klook’s study for the Philippine market revealed that 87 percent of Filipinos are eager to travel and 40 percent of them are planning to splurge on their travels.

The top local destinations Klook users book for travel and experiences are Cebu, Boracay, Manila, Tagaytay, Clark and Subic. Meanwhile, for international travel, Filipinos have shown interest in Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong for their close proximity.

In Cebu, Klook said it is gearing up to expand its portfolio of activities in Cebu and its neighboring provinces.

“Cebu, the Queen City of the South, full of economic opportunities especially in the tourism sector, is one of the key markets for Klook in the Philippines,” said Ulla Sy-Roqueza, Klook Philippines associate director for marketing.

Klook early this year, launched Klook Cebu Pass which is available for both local and international travelers. With the Klook Cebu Pass, tourists will have access to 14 exciting attractions, ranging from theme parks to day passes, which will allow them to create their own itinerary without having to worry about multiple fees.

Travel recovery

Meanwhile, despite the constraints of the first full year of travel recovery in Asia, with flight capacity still well below pre-pandemic levels, Klook saw a threefold increase compared to 2019. The business also hit US$3 billion in annualized gross booking value.

“2023 is proving to be a record year of Travelsilience, where travel and resilience intersect. While we are in the early stages of travel recovery in Asia Pacific with persisting constraints in flight capacities, we’ve achieved astounding growth. Travelers are showcasing their resilience, and our business has surged threefold, primarily driven by a remarkable increase in spending—soaring by over 30 percent on our platform. This growth is underpinned by the diverse variety of additional products and services we’ve introduced, ranging from rail and car rentals to staycations and even more unique experiences,” said Ethan Lin, chief executive officer and co-founder at Klook, in a statement.

Lin expects 2024 to be a better year, as flight capacity fully recovers and travel becomes more affordable.

As travelers prioritize experiences and seek to discover and share them on social media, Klook announced it is doubling down on its social content marketing expertise with the launch of Klook Kreators, an industry-first influencer affiliate program with social media at its core.

It also announced it is giving over $9 million in deals and prizes, including nine all-expense-paid trips anywhere in Asia from Sept. 8 to 22, 2023 as part of its birthday celebration.