A seismic shift is underway in the world of travel, with Asia at the epicenter. A groundbreaking survey commissioned across Australia, China, Japan, India, Singapore, and South Korea by Marriott International has unveiled a novel breed of travelers: the “Native Explorers.” This term encapsulates a tribe of affluent millennials and Gen Z individuals disrupting the traditional travel industry. Unlike their predecessors, these explorers are turning the tide by embarking on a novel travel journey—one that defies convention.
Embracing the Unconventional Journey
Gone are the days of waiting to embark on costly long-haul voyages later in life. The Native Explorers are redefining travel narratives by venturing into distant lands at a tender age. Astonishingly, a quarter of these intrepid souls have ventured across at least two continents beyond Asia Pacific before their 26th birthday. A reversal of trends, they possess the means but choose to spend their travel dollars closer to home, as 85% believe that the uncharted depths of their own region remain untapped.
Asian Paradises: Unveiled
As the survey echoes across Asia’s diverse landscapes, certain travel destinations emerge as the darlings of the Native Explorers. With their hearts and minds set on nearby escapades, Japan (52%), South Korea (42%), and New Zealand (39%) stand as the favored havens. However, these intrepid souls are not content with the ordinary; they seek the extraordinary within familiar realms. They peer beyond the surface, savoring culture-centric experiences in familiar paradises such as Australia (39%) and Thailand (32%).
While some may prefer fuss-free holidays near home, the Native Explorers’ thirst for adventure knows no bounds. Nature escapes (43%), wellness retreats (43%), and unearthing hidden cultural gems (36%) are high on their agendas.
As the Native Explorers redefine travel, they also redefine luxury. Elusive exclusivity is being replaced by the authenticity of human connection and experiences. Among them, 37% deem genuine hospitality, human connection, and community inclusion as the core of luxury travel.
The pinnacle of luxury, they believe, lies in the realm of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Whether it’s VIP access to sold-out concerts of favorite artists (52%) or exclusive culinary workshops with celebrity chefs (36%), these explorers crave moments that defy convention. Marriott Bonvoy Moments, a platform that offers exclusive experiences using earned points, fulfills their quest for unique encounters.
Crafting the Future of Travel
For the Native Explorers, craftsmanship and personalization are paramount in luxury travel. Over 50% believe that service excellence and state-of-the-art facilities are the hallmarks of luxury. Personalization, from tailored itineraries to customized amenities, remains a deciding factor when choosing luxury accommodations.
Embracing the duality of discovery and luxury, a remarkable nine out of ten respondents prefer exploring destinations with the assistance of their luxury hotel. Whether through gourmet dining (45%), curated cultural programs (39%), or local wellness rituals (34%), they desire to enrich their journey through the comforts of their chosen haven.
Charting a Bespoke Journey
With a passion for cultural immersion, the Native Explorers gravitate toward hotels and resorts with destination-inspired concepts (76%). Recognizing this trend, Marriott International is poised to meet their desires with upcoming hotel openings in popular travel destinations like Sydney, Bangkok, and emerging locales such as Fukuoka, Japan, and Jiuzhaigou, China.
The era of Native Explorers is upon us, disrupting norms, igniting meaningful connections, and birthing a new paradigm of luxury and travel. Their journey transcends borders, offering a peek into a future where tradition meets innovation and luxury thrives through human connection and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.