Everyone knows that Asia is a fast-growing sector for international travel.

But what many industry insiders don’t appreciate is the many changes in consumer behavior across Asia that travel companies need to grasp if they want to take advantage of this fast-growing market.

Acacia Leroy, the trend strategist at TrendWatching Asia, filled in this knowledege gap during an on-stage presentation at the inaugural Skift Forum Europe held in London in April.

Leroy began by pointing out the size of the Asia boom. Rising incomes in China, in particular, have led to a surge in outbound tourism, with an estimated 120 million Chinese tourists spending more than $220 billion on overseas travel in 2016.

This year, China will see 11 million citizens travel overseas, which is a number greater than the population of Belgium.

Leroy covered three overarching changes in consumer behavior, which she calls “emerging expectations.”

When innovations outside of travel come into a market, she says, they change the expectations of consumers about good service.

The rise of WeChat

You don’t need to start marketing on WeChat to appreciate the broader assumptions Asian travelers now have about the primacy of messaging apps as a way of interacting with the world.

Asian travelers increasingly assume that they will be able to carry out all of their online experience via chat platforms.

This trend is likely to carry over to other chat platforms like Facebook Messenger. Travelers will turn to these apps as their portal for handling customer service or making payments.

Listening to Leroy’s discussion of these emerging consumer expectations in Asia may give travel marketers and strategists an edge as they aim to attract this group of travelers.

She also offers lots of examples of creativity, too, such as the QR codes for deals to visit the Philippines that airline Cebu Pacific marks on Hong Kong sidewalks when it rains.

Note: Initial planning is in full-swing for our flagship event Skift Global Forum, which will be held September 26-27 in New York City. We wanted to make sure our most loyal Skift readers were able to purchase their tickets early and were rewarded for doing so. That’s why we’ve re-opened up our previously sold out early bird discount for an additional 35 tickets. Attendees can now save $800 per ticket on the largest creative business conference in travel.

At this year’s inaugural Skift Forum Europe in London, travel leaders from around the world gathered for a day of inspiration, information, and conversation on the future of travel.

Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2017 events, including our New York City event September 26-27.

Photo Credit: Acacia Leroy, Asia trend strategist at TrendWatching, spoke at Skift Forum Europe 2017 in April. She cited clear and insightful practical examples of emerging behaviors of outbound travelers. Skift