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The Currency of Experience Has Global Value

Global research finds holidays are the most valued in terms of how we spend our time and money

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MUMBAI: Research from YouGov on behalf of Priority Pass, the world’s leading and original airport experiences program, has found that the trend for experiences over material goods is global. Surveying over 10,000 people from nine countries across all corners of the world, including 1000 in India, the data showed that we all overwhelmingly value shared experiences – which manifests most clearly in the form of holidays.

India Currency of Experience Barometer

Here are the top ten activities people in India value the most (from most valued to least valued):

Holidaying at home

2.    Cultural holiday overseas

3.    Catching a film at the cinema

4.    Going out for a meal 

5.    Overseas city breaks and weekends away

6.    Solo travel abroad

7.    Going to festivals 

8.    Sporting holidays overseas

9.    Buying luxury items

10.  Wellness and spa holidays abroad  

The Next Big Thing consumer futurist, William Higham, said: “People increasingly look for more ‘meaning’ in what they do, therefore possessions are proving less valuable than experiences, and the memories and learnings that we gain from them. In future, what we do will matter more – to us and our peer network – than what we buy. We’ll also care more about status updates than status symbols. This will be encouraged by the growing importance of social media across all age groups, since experiences typically offer better opportunities to post photos and updates than products.

“The preference for experiences will stand the test of time even during future recessions – the study has found the growing demand is not confined only to those in high income brackets but is popular across the board. Additionally, since spending money on experiences is also particularly strong amongst millennials, we are likely to see this skyrocket as this generation reaches peak purchasing power in the coming decade.”

Priyanka Lakhani, Regional Commercial Director, Middle East, Africa and India at Collinson, the operator of Priority Pass said: “It’s no surprise that travel has topped the global leader board. Thanks to globalization, a drop in travel prices, and better online services, it’s never been easier for people to plan and book a trip. Where we’re now seeing the biggest shift amongst travelers both in India and further afield, is the demand for more personalized and customer-centric services as part of the travel experience, even before they’ve reached their destination. Whether that’s escaping the hustle and bustle in a luxury lounge, indulging in a sit-down meal in a great restaurant, enjoying a relaxing massage, or even just having their flight information in the palm of their hand via an app. We certainly find that people now expect extra touches on top of their travel experiences to make them even more enjoyable and special.”

Holidays at home top the table in India

42%  are likely to holiday at home while 30% enjoy domestic short breaks and 27% enjoy a cultural trip overseas
16% say a holiday at home is the activity they enjoy the most – and would spend an average of 23,619 INR on this type of break.
The type of break that came out on top in India in terms of spending was overseas travel for business with an average of 52,191 INR spent on this kind of trip and this came in higher than average amount spent on cultural holidays overseas abroad with the average being INR 39,271

Research found that almost half of those surveyed (42%) like to holiday at home, while 30% enjoy a domestic short break and 27% enjoy exploring the cultural hot spots of other countries.

Interestingly the type of trip which respondents would spend the highest average annual sum was an overseas business trip - with people spending an average of 52,191 INR on this kind of trip.

Holidays and travel – domestic or overseas, or whether for business or leisure, all came in ahead of what people spend on luxury items which stood at an average of 17,011 INR.

Wellness holidays abroad fared well globally, whereas they came in much lower in India, with only 11% of respondents likely to take this kind of trip in an average year and 3% listing it as their most favoured activity.  This is in contrast to almost a fifth (18%) of people surveyed globally saying they enjoy this kind of break – with Russians and Saudi Arabians particularly enjoying them at 33% and 38% respectively.

Sharing experiences

Eating out and going to the cinema are the two things people in India enjoy doing overall with 48% each. Eating out was also the most popular activity globally (59%)
24% enjoy health and beauty services (massages, manicures etc.) which was similar to the global average of 22%

However, holidays are not the only experiences we enjoy. Almost a quarter of respondents (24%) like to indulge in health and beauty services like massages and manicures while almost half of Indian adults said they like going to the cinema as well as going out for a meal (joint at 48%). 59% of people surveyed in nine countries across the world said they enjoy going out for a meal, with those who enjoy a trip to the cinema globally, very similar to the India response at 49%.

The results suggest that a shared social experience is key to people’s enjoyment. The way we use social media also adds to the perception of value of an experience. For example, global averages show that travel for leisure and a trip to the cinema are the activities we’re most likely to regularly post about on social media (31% and 27% respectively),  whereas in India the top two were sharing trips to the cinema at 42% and showcasing food and drink one has prepared themselves at 39%. More solitary activities like a fitness session at the gym (18%) or buying a new luxury purchase (also 18%) don’t get shared as much on social media platforms.

And when asked what they’d spend a cash gift (of INR18, 000) on, almost a quarter of people globally (23%) would put it towards a trip away, whereas in India, the top answer, with 15%, was to buy a gift for a loved one.  13% globally (14% in India) would pay for a special meal with friends and family and in India this was tied at 14% with putting the money towards a trip away. 

Priyanka Lakhani added: “The statistics show that experience is definitely king. The India findings of this research validates further how highly people value different experiences, especially those that are memorable and can be shared. Priority Pass is proud to offer more than 1200 airport experiences that help people get even more enjoyment from their time in departure halls, whether traveling for business or leisure.”

“Consumer behavior is fast changing. Those companies that are agile enough to offer products and services which respond to the growing investment in the Currency of Experience, will reap the rewards when it comes to customer loyalty.”

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