In part 3 of the 3-chapter series of ‘Get India Ready’ for tour and activity operators, you will gain insights into the service needs of the Indian traveler and find out how you, as a tour and activity operator, can attract and deliver the best tourism experience for this unique outbound market.
Chapter 1: Introduction to India Outbound Market
Chapter 2: An Analysis of the Target Customers: India Traveler Profiled
Chapter 3: How To Deliver Quality Service and Provide Top-Notch Experience for the Indian Traveler
Gaining relevant insights into the service needs of the Indian Traveler can allow tour and activity providers to refine their marketing and communication strategies which can contribute to improved tourism experiences for the Indian outbound market. Additionally, the application of these insights can lead to a higher competitive advantage and increase in sales for tours and activities in Australia.
There are four areas of service needs for Indian travelers, they are: food, service needs, shopping and, planning and purchasing travel through bookings. Tips are shown on how to best engage these unique tourists in these areas of interest.
Geographic location, religious sensibilities, and traditional tastes all influence Indian cuisine which varies from State to State. Despite these differences, vegetarianism is a common thread and around 42 per cent of Indian households are vegetarian and 35 per cent of weekday meals are vegetarian for the remainder of the non-vegetarian population.
There are many classifications of vegetarianism in India, for example ‘strict or pure’ vegetarians also avoid eggs and Jain vegetarians don’t eat root vegetables such as potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, sweet potato. Many non-vegetarians will also avoid pork and beef due to religious reasons.
Indians are generally late-diners, preferring a late lunch (around 1pm) and dinner at around 8.30pm or later. Table service is expected during lunch and dinner and there is a preference for hot meals over sandwiches or cold canapés.
A typical diet includes:
Breakfast: Milk/ cold brew coffee/ tea with idli (type of savoury cake), dosa (type of crepe), and parathas (type of flatbread).
Lunch: An assortment of cooked vegetables, rice and wheat chapathis (type of flatbread).
Snacks: Tea/ coffee with biscuits (Masala Chai/ tea is preferred).
Dinner: A light dinner consisting of curried vegetables and chapathis, with one or two non-vegetarian dishes.
Welcoming Indian travelers with a traditional greeting will create a lasting impression. Greet travelers by saying “Namaste” (pronounced na-mahs-tey) with your palms joined and fingers pointing up.
India has many festivals throughout the year and recognizing an important religious festival will be appreciated by travelers. Festivals in India are a time for families to get together and many families will often travel overseas on holidays during this time. Some of the popular religious festivals in India include: Makarsankranth (January), Holi (March), Onam (September), Durga Puja (September/ October), Dussehra (October) and Diwali (October/ November).
In terms of service needs, Indian travelers prefer flexibility in schedules/ itineraries. Where strict schedules need to be adhered to it is advisable to remind travelers to be on time. Asking travelers to be ready early is a way to address this. All key information on products or services should be provided in English or Hindi language.
Indian travelers love to shop. They are among the world’s highest-spending globetrotters. Their spending power has been estimated to be four times that of the Chinese. In fact, most Indian business or visiting friends and families trips include leisure and shopping components, and nearly half of all Indians who venture abroad do so to shop with almost 75 per cent buying branded duty-free goods.
On average, Indians enjoy shopping around for offers and deals, with bargaining part of the shopping experience for travelers especially at local markets.
India is a late booking market, with travelers planning their holidays about two to six months prior to departure.
When choosing a holiday destination, Indian consumers look for safety and security, world-class natural beauty, value for money, good food and wine and interesting attractions to visit. Upon planning the trip, Indian consumers preferred sources include: general internet searches, reviewing flight booking websites, and speaking to friends and relatives and travel agents. Being a late booking market and with value for money as key consideration, Indian travelers have an affinity for price-point buying and will shop around for what they determine to be the best deals.
While Indian consumers are researching and booking their trips using a combination of traditional travel agencies and online options, retail agencies still handle the majority of outbound travel for India. Tailor-made packages are preferred over independent bookings or group tours as they are perceived to be more relaxing, with free time able to be built into the itinerary.
Providing early offers with rates for the Indian market can assist in promoting your tours and activities at the booking periods in the market. Peak travel times to Australia from India are during school holidays (April to June), festivals (October/ November) and Christmas/ New Year period (December/ January).
The insights uncovered throughout the series convey that there are considerable opportunities for the Tourism Industry, specifically within the Australian market. Knowing the target customers of India and understanding their purchasing intentions and desire for experiential travel all provide a valuable learning source of information for tour and activity operators who interested to tap into the potential of this booming yet complex outbound market.