"Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going."
- Paul Theroux


Views and Interviews

June 2024

Industry Awareness Feature

Timeshare in India - Market Research & Industry Insights

Ashok is the CEO at Kaybase, a research and analytics firm based in Chennai. He is an experienced senior management professional with expertise in market research and management teaching.

Kaybase provides marketing action plans based on consumer insight and in-depth understanding. The firm’s research-based solutions help clients identify processes and insights that aid in business decision-making and enhance customer loyalty.

With researchers in Chennai, Bangalore, Dubai, Aberdeen, and New Jersey, the firm’s exposure across industries and geographies helps draw learnings from widely different sources and apply them to any one situation.

For AIRDA, Kaybase has handled two research assignments in the past, to assess changing trends in the world of leisure and hospitality. With Ashok, we discussed six key touchpoints for our interview, and here is a summary of our conversation.

1. Industry Trends:

* Based on your research, what significant trends have you observed in the Indian travel and tourism sector over the past three years?

Over the last few years (since the pandemic is in the background) the desire to go on a vacation has increased significantly. And this increase can be seen in more ways than one:

  • People are taking one annual break for longer durations
  • They are taking short breaks more often
  • They are spending more– in terms of travel and stay

Revenge travel is one phrase we hear these days after Covid-19 virtually put the brakes on travel and tourism. So people are really serious about planning that vacation and making sure that work does not come in the way.

A few specific trends

  • With better highway infrastructure, road trips to holiday destinations have become more common. People today have bigger and more comfortable cars than even half a generation ago, and think nothing of driving 400 to 500 km with the family for a short break.
  • Domestic travel has been on the increase. There seems to be a general sense that there are so many destinations right here in our country that the upper middle class and above take at least three vacations in the year.
  • There is an increasing trend towards non-conventional destinations and stay options – for this audience, the older destinations are in the "done" set, and the "to-do" bucket list now has newer options.

The other big trend is reunions. All across the country, school, and college batches plan reunion meetings and holidays, and this is a segment by itself driving up demand.

In the initial months after the pandemic, this increase could have been attributed to pent-up demand, but the trend seems to be here to stay. All this is of course music to the ears of travel and holiday brands, and we have carried out studies to understand consumer interest in specific categories of destinations.

2. Age Segmentation:

* How do you segment your data by age group?

It will be useful to think in terms of life stages and family compositions. For example, one set could be young couples with one or two small kids whose parents stay with them. Their holidaying would depend on destinations for elderly parents, destinations for children, and those they can do solo trips to or go with friends. This kind of segmentation would help structure the offerings and fine-tune communications.

Having said that, we also review travel preferences across age segments and look at preferred travel destinations, types of accommodations, popular travel activities, and factors influencing travel decisions.

Here again, the differences are not across age groups so much as across the segments I talked about a few minutes ago. The choice of destinations and the choice of travel options revolve around the health and safety considerations and constraints that come into play. There is no dearth of options for those with good health and purchasing power.

3. Post-Pandemic Behavior:

Has the pandemic influenced travel behavior across different age groups?

We did ask ourselves that question looking at increased interest in local travel, safety considerations, digital adoption for travel planning, and other behavioral changes

This may be just an isolated view from me, but I do think the pandemic has stopped influencing any of these behaviors. Safety from the pandemic point of view doesn't seem to enter anyone's planning cycle these days.

Digital is of course here to stay – for planning, booking, and payment.

4. Challenges and Opportunities:

* What challenges and opportunities do you foresee for the travel and tourism industry in India moving forward?

I think the challenge is to go one level below in purchasing power and see what they want. So many players are vying for the boom in the upmarket segment that it will get saturated in three to five years.

Holiday brands need to strategize in order to see what the layer below needs, and be mentally prepared to offer a mass-class kind of offering - something that is affordable - classy in essentials, without frills.

On the other hand, luxury is also hotting up as a market. Many Indian brands are yet to understand luxury, I feel. A few of course do, but the market can support a few more

Finally, I do think Indian brands don't understand international tourists very well. A qualitative understanding is required of the mix they want when it comes to "ethnic, exotic, and Indian" on the one hand, and "reassuringly familiar and safe" on the other.

5. Market Research & Industry Insights:

* How can market research help key players know more about industry trends and changing customer profiles?

Market research studies will go a long way toward understanding industry trends. The key is to have an insights team that is talking to consumers across occasions to understand what is in their minds.

As an industry partner, AIRDA can play a huge role in this process. I remember doing a study for AIRDA to quantify the economic value addition of resorts in the regions where they are present. In the past, we have also done periodic state-of-the-industry updates. (It might help to resume these practices.)

It may also be a good idea to do an industry-level assessment of customer satisfaction and a study to understand the timeshare customer's "decision journey" in choosing a resort. The findings can be shared with AIRDA members to aid in the process of service enhancement – however big or small the size of operation.

6. Timeshare Industry and Resort Promotion:

* How does the timeshare industry contribute to promoting travel, tourism, and business for resorts in India?

The timeshare industry is going to find it even more challenging than the other players. It started as a VFM offering and VFM is not quite the need of the hour

I think the industry needs to reinvent itself and identify segments where VFM is still a consideration. Religious tourism for instance, and see how timeshare can become relevant to those who can book expensive hotels and resorts.

I also think key players driving the timeshare segment of the industry should make more consistent efforts to keep abreast of emerging trends. Are they talking enough to their consumers?

Consumer engagement of a consistent nature is the key to offering meaningful and differentiated benefits.

Useful links

AIRDA Website
The AIRDA advantage
Timeshare FAQs
List of AIRDA members

Image credits: Images licensed from Freepik.

Content Disclaimer: The views expressed in our interviews and stories do not necessarily reflect the official policies, practices and guidelines of the All India Resort Development Association, or its members. These views are based on personal experiences, private opinion, or open source information. Images used here are either paid-for stock photos, images shared by the people we interview, or images under one of the open source licenses such as Creative Commons and others. For some of our features we acknowledge the use of AI referencing and writing inputs from Bard (Google) and Bing/Edge (Microsoft). We also acknowledge the use of publicly available AI assistants to generate relevant images for our feature stories.

Here’s a link to some recent interviews done by us on the AIRDA website

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Benefits for Resort Owners

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Benefits for Consumers

What does AIRDA mean to holiday seekers and prospective customers? AIRDA comes in to provide information and offer guidelines on making the right timeshare decisions.

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