New Insights on the Curious Traveler: Passion for Culture and Discovery

March 14, 2016



Travel is essential to the Curious Traveler, an affluent individual who, above all else, values exploration and discovery. When they travel they seek culture, cuisine, and connection with locals. They buck trends and look for “what’s next” over brand names. And when it comes to making memories and having a story to tell, they will spend more. These are the top findings of a global study conducted by The Leading Hotels of the World, a collection of uncommon luxury hotels, to understand this traveler and better serve them.

“Over the past few years we have seen a subset of the affluent traveler emerge that Leading Hotels has termed the Curious Traveler. Understanding the mindset and motivations of this very specific customer segment is the goal of this report,” said Ted Teng, President and CEO, The Leading Hotels of the World. “Our study paints a rich portrait of who this individual is. One who is captivated by exploring diverse cultures, who eschews the expected and thrives on discovery. Leading Hotels are engaging places where art, culture, history and cuisine converge elegantly to offer these discerning travelers the ideal next stop on their journey of discovery.”

“Insights on the Curious Traveler” from The Leading Hotels of the World:

Travel is Essential For Curious Travelers
Curious Travelers are taking almost eight leisure trips a year…and while American travelers take the least amount of vacation compared to other markets in this study, they are the most likely to visit new destinations when they travel overseas.
• 79% of curious travelers feel that travel is an essential part of life.
• 30% of curious travelers intend to take more trips in 2016 vs. 12% who plan to take fewer.
• 78% express interest in exploring a destination’s hidden gems.
• 54% look for unique and different travel adventures.
• Only 32% seek the “hottest/trendiest” spots.
• The curious traveler will spend 7% more on hotel accommodations per night this year than they did in 2015 ($419 per night/$390 per night).

Curious Travelers are Defined by Their Confident Outlook
The curious traveler has a strong sense of self. They trust their judgment as much, if not more, than the opinions of others.
• 46% of curious international travelers consider themselves a trendsetter amongst their circle of friends.
• 60% consider themselves the primary person responsible for leisure trip decision-making.
• 81% like to conduct independent research online to find the experiences they want.

Curious Travelers Thrive on Cultural Immersion…Americans are Especially Curious
This traveler seeks immersion – 68% of survey respondents think it’s important to immerse in a destination and learn about its culture. The curious traveler defines culture in terms of History, Architecture, Food, and People. These are the cultural experiences they want the most when they travel:
• Visiting notable historical/architectural sites: 91%
• Culinary experiences: 89%
• Getting to know local people: 78%

More than half (60%) of survey respondents said they want to experience a destination as a local would. This curiosity about other cultures is especially pronounced among Americans, who outranked other markets in their agreement with the statement “I am curious about other cultures:”
    • U.S.: 81%
    • Germany: 76%
    • Japan: 69%

Curious Travelers are More “Adventurous”
• 81% say creating memories is most important when traveling.
• When traveling to new destinations, they go overseas. Travelers Who Took an International Trip in the Past 12 Months:
    • U.S.: 93%
    • Germany: 58%
    • Japan: 52%

73% of curious travelers believe “on vacation it is essential for me to do something out of the ordinary from my routine.”

Curious Travelers Know Where they Want to Go
This traveler knows what they like and when they find it, they go back. While they certainly value and expect quality, they don’t glean reassurance from brand name recognition alone. When it comes to international travel, they mostly want to go to destinations in Europe and North America.

Hotel Preferences
• 44% of travelers stay at their favorite hotel when they return to a destination.
• 71% say that they find reassurance in a five-star designation.
• 78% say that a well-known brand name is only somewhat important or not important at all.

Destination Preferences: Europe remains the top destination for travelers (70%).

Curious Travelers Blend Business with Pleasure
Curious travelers often navigate a seamless transition between work and leisure. When possible, they are looking to make the most of their business trips with leisure components.
• On average, international curious travelers took more business trips (8.9) than leisure trips (8.4) over the past 12 months.
• 54% took time on at least one business trip to enjoy activities typically associated with leisure travel, such as playing golf or relaxing at the spa.
• 42% of curious travelers took a spouse, friend or family member on at least one business trip the past 12 months.

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Survey Methodology
MMGY Global, the largest integrated global marketing firm in the U.S. specializing the travel, hospitality and entertainment industries, surveyed 1,500 respondents between the age of 25 and 64 in September 2015 for “The Curious Traveler” study. The international survey of active leisure travelers in the United States, Germany and Japan, who have taken at least four leisure trips annually, includes households with an annual income of $150,000 or more. The geographic division of respondents was: 700 in the United States, 400 in Germany and 400 in Japan. For the business travel portion of the report, 964 travelers qualified by taking one or more business trips during the past 12 months, 396 for the United States, 338 from Germany and 230 from Japan.

About The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. (LHW)
Comprised of more than 375 hotels in over 75 countries, LHW is one of the largest luxury hotel collections in the world. Rooted in the locations in which they are found, our members embody the very essence of their destination. Through varied styles of architecture and design and distinct cultural experiences enhanced by passionate people, our collection is for the curious traveler looking for their next discovery. Established in 1928 by several influential and forward-thinking European hoteliers, LHW has an eight-decade-long commitment to providing remarkable, authentic travel experiences. We select only hotels that meet our high standards for quality and distinctiveness, resulting in a curated portfolio of hotels united not by what makes them the same, but the details that make them different.
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