AIG Travel Round Table Reveals Hong Kong Trends

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·        29% of travellers purchase travel insurance one day before departure

·        Hong Kongers are less likely to book travel insurance for trips under three days
·        Predicted long haul destinations for 2018 include Russia, Eastern Europe, Maldives and USA
·        Travellers in Hong Kong plan trips up to seven weeks in advance

Hong Kong, November 2017, - Leading insurance company, AIG brought together expert panelists from leading organisations Agoda, Hong Kong Airlines and Sunflower Travel to talk about the latest travel trends, habits and risks for travellers from Hong Kong. 

According to analysis of its data, AIG found that in Hong Kong over 40% of travel insurance buyers are between the ages of 31 and 50. The insights also highlighted that the average duration of a trip is 4-6 days, with 64% of travellers booking insurance for this duration. Surprisingly, the results showed that only a small selection (6.4%) of travellers are booking insurance for travel between 1-3 days. 

According to Catherine Mak, Regional Manager, Greater China, Assistance Services at AIG, “There is often a misconception that insurance is only needed if you have an accident or lose a piece of luggage during your holiday. But that is not the case. We see travel claims coming from many different risks. For example, travellers need to be prepared for situations involving acts of terrorism, journey and accommodation cancellations, unexpected medical conditions and Outbound Travel Alerts. The price of a policy starts from 38HKD per day and can cover medical expenses reaching into the millions.

We recommend that people purchase their travel insurance as soon as they have booked their transport and accommodation in case something should occur in the lead up to the trip requiring the trip to be cancelled, such as illness of the insured, or there is an issue with the booking prior to departure, such as flight cancellation/delay.’

For people in Hong Kong, buying travel insurance is often a last-minute thought with 14.6 % purchasing on the day of departure and 28.9% purchasing one day before departure. Overall, 50% of customers are purchasing travel insurance during the week before their holiday. 

All of the panelists confirmed that their data shows the top destination for all generations of Hong Kong travellers is Japan. Meeting these demands, Hong Kong Airlines, has increased its flight departures to Japan and is now the carrier with the most flights from Hong Kong, providing 85 per week. Data analysis from Agoda, showed that over the last five years, the demand for Japan has dramatically increased with up to 40% of Hong Kongers choosing this as the number one holiday destination.

AIG has identified a direct correlation with Japan being the top destination as this is where Hong Kong travellers make the most travel claims for medical cases compared to those visiting nearby Mainland China, Thailand and Taiwan. For clients in Hong Kong, the number of medical cases was highest for tibia fractures in 2015/2016 and people suffering with a fever for 2016/2017. The other common types of medical cases for Hong Kong travellers are knee and other leg injuries. These injuries can amount to over 400,000HKD in medical expenses; something that many travellers do not think about when planning their holiday. 

According to Terrence Leung, Assistant General Manager at Sunflower Travel, “With the impact of terrorist attacks in Western Europe, our customers have moved away from popular destinations such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Safety of a country is the main priority for people in Hong Kong. In the last two years, Eastern Europe and Russia have become popular destinations for travellers looking for safer and visa-free long-haul destinations.”

Dennis Owen, General Manager of Branding and Social Media at Hong Kong Airlines added, “The top overseas destinations are Japan, Taiwan and Thailand. In 2018, we will see other up and coming destinations including the Maldives, which we have just launched direct routes to following the demand. Other popular destinations will include long-haul travel to the USA.”

A recent survey by MoveHub, identified Hong Kong citizens as the world’s biggest travellers, taking over 10 holidays a year. According to ESD Life, people from Hong Kong spend 70% of their annual leave travelling overseas. Business Monitor International research showed that outbound departures from Hong Kong increased by an estimated 4.7% year-on-year and forecasts that this will keep increasing each year. 

“Social media is playing a huge role in helping the younger generation define their travel choices. People trust people, friends and families over brands. They see their friends posting on social media and want to go to those places. There has also been a significant increase in Hong Kong travellers booking their flights using their mobiles, especially since the screens have become larger and it is easier than ever to use the booking apps. Hong Kongers are price savvy and will book their trips overseas around airline promotions to secure a good deal. In 2018, we expect to see a growing trend for in-depth travel with people focusing on one place to visit rather than multiple destinations. Interest in visiting secondary cities will also increase, especially in countries like Japan,” added Dennis Owen, from Hong Kong Airlines. 

Peter Allen, Managing Director at Agoda Outside, commented, “A large proportion of our customers booking online are Millennials, aged between 31-40 years old. We have found that people in Hong Kong are planners and book their travel up to seven weeks in advance, earlier than any other market in the region. We can also see that they are booking traditional hotels, spending an average of HKD $1,000 per night for short-haul accommodation. Travellers are choosing mid-range hotels with 3 - 3.5 stars however, when travelling to long-haul destinations, they will choose to upgrade to 4 – 4.5-star properties. We are also beginning to see a rapid increase in Hong Kongers booking non-hotel accommodation, especially when visiting Japan during the summer holidays. One reason for this is visitors are wanting to experience how locals are living and will opt for an apartment instead.”

According to Terrence Leung at Sunflower Travel, “The group travel sector in Hong Kong is dominated by people aged 40 plus with more disposable time and income. With the emerging trend for authentic experiences, retirees are looking for extraordinary journeys, including luxury river cruises along the Amazon and fly-cruises to Antarctica with an average travelling time of 9-12 days for long-haul trips. We also work closely with primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong, arranging educational student group trips to nearby destinations including Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. The Hong Kong Government is very passionate about this and supports students visiting and learning about other countries.”

Commenting on new travel trends in the market, Catherine Mak from AIG added, “AIG is always adapting to the way people are travelling. Over the last year, we have noticed a demand for people looking to be protected when taking part in marathon-running holidays. In response to this growing trend, we have adjusted our Travel products.” 

About AIG

American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a leading global insurance organization. AIG member companies provide a wide range of property casualty insurance, life insurance, retirement solutions and other financial services to customers in approximately 70 countries and jurisdictions. These diverse offerings include products and services that help businesses and individuals protect their assets, manage risks and provide for retirement security. AIG common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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