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Updated August 2021
Finland is well known with Indians as the "Happiest country in the World" and the land of Nokia. As a travel destination, Finland is more popular for its winter related activities and experiences, Northern Lights and being the hometown of Santa Claus. For summer Helsinki Region & Lakeland are gaining popularity with Indians too. In 2019, India was no 17 source market for Finland by the number of overnights, with 102 000 annual overnights. With 27 % growth in 2019 vs 2018, India was the number one & the fastest growing markets of Visit Finland's target markets.
The pandemic has positioned Finland as a safe & secure country with pure nature, lower number Covid-19 cases and is a destination that is not overcrowded. Unique bucket list experiences like meeting Santa Claus, chasing Northern Lights, Staying in Igloos, Crossing Arctic Circle, Icebreaker etc. are experiences Indians are keen to experience.
For Sweden, Norway and Denmark high summer months (especially May and June) are the main season for Indian visitors. For Finland summer is also important but compared to other Nordics, Finland's profile is more concentrated on autumn and winter as of now. Finland's share of summer overnights from India is 15 % and 19 % of winter overnights amongst all the Nordics. Sweden is the most appealing Nordic country for Indian visitors.
Finnair operates direct flights from New Delhi to Helsinki (expected to resume operation in December 2021).The current accessibility from India is also through all the EU carriers (Lufthansa, KLM, Air France) as well as the Middle eastern carriers like Emirates, Qatar and Fly Dubai. Turkish Airlines & Air France direct connection to Rovaniemi during winters can also be promoted and capitalized from India market.
Since India is currently a trade focused market for 2020, all the activities have been majorly focused on B2B & B2B2C only. Though we have managed to feature all our press releases in various travel trade media platforms as well.
Latest Travel Trends with Indians: Slow travel with immersive experiences, tailored, long stay holidays. Indian travellers are increasingly looking for experiences that will enable them to reconnect with friends and family. The one thing that the pandemic has taught people is to slow down and appreciate an unhurried life, which is why there will be rise of slow, immersive travel options. Be it a workcation, staycation or a weekend getaway, travellers are gravitating towards fuller and richer immersive experiences that allow them to connect, explore and unwind. More and more people therefore, will prefer travel that balances their itinerary with a languid pace affording them the time to explore more while eliminating the stress of rushing around many places to tick the boxes.
More takers for premium stays: Safety and hygiene have emerged as the new comfort and luxury in travel. The traditional checklist has now made way for questions such as 'Does the location ensure adequate social distancing?', 'Is there a private kitchen?', 'Can I have an extra room for help or support staff?' and so on. Post-Covid, travellers are looking for more control over their journeys. This is leading many to opt for higher category hotels, premium home stays, independent villas and non-hotels that promise the comfort of a vacation while meeting additional requirements. Travellers are now looking at meaningful experiences and fostering meaningful connections and may prioritise this over mass tourism formats focused on cities.
Contactless travel: Post the pandemic, the travel and hospitality industry has made significant efforts to boost confidence among travellers by making services contactless as far as possible. From contactless check-in at airports and hotels to ordering food and beverages and concierge services at hotels online, contactless offerings are becoming the norm more than an exception. In parallel, travellers are also warming up to the idea of using contactless services and building appreciation for tech-rich experiences that promise travel safety, upfront..
It's all about sustainability: Travellers are increasingly conscious of enabling sustainable travel and aim to make environment-friendly choices when they travel. About 94 per cent respondents who took the Airbnb and YouGov survey said that they would look at sustainable travel when they do leave their homes in 2021. The research by Booking.com indicates that this trend has accelerated over the past year and they expect to see a more sustainable approach to travel in 2021.
Indicating an intent to travel, the USA, Russia and Maldives are among the top 3 most searched international destinations for August 2021 as Indians hope for ease in international travel restrictions. The list of the top searched international destinations on Booking.com by Indian travellers in the month of August 2021 is as follows: 1. USA, 2. Russia, 3. Maldives, 4. Switzerland, 5. Qatar,6. Canada,7. UK, 8. Mexico,9. Armenia, 10. France.
Customization/ bespoke/ tailormade is a trend that can be seen gaining popularity in the post pandemic travel. Although tailored vacations weren't rare in pre-pandemic times, Covid accelerated the need for travelers to customize their itineraries according to their ease, safety and preference. Affluent Indian travellers are looking for deeper and more comprehensive relationships with their travel advisors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many travel agents may have to assume several new responsibilities that they didn't have to do previously, consumers expecting their advisor to provide clarity about cancellations, refund processes, travel insurance, and the majority agreeing the booking agent should be monitoring the latest government advice on COVID status at destination and providing information on the hygiene of the resort or location. Consumers also expect their advisor to offer more alternative travel packages to less crowded destinations, and some are most likely to want private transport options, such as private jets and private islands. Another newer requirements of affluent travellers is an even greater focus on sustainability, wherein consumers now expect to see information on this when agents create itineraries.
The pandemic has affected the way people approach travel-related decisions, aspects of which are likely to last for some time. Enhanced transparency around health and safety top the list. A survey by Booking.com on the future of travel shows that 77 per cent of Indians mentioned they would only book accommodations if it was clear what health and hygiene policies a destination had in place, with 71 per cent saying they would avoid certain destinations altogether due to safety concerns.
Indians now have and increased desire for new and different experiences over nostalgic destinations. Financial security and safety rank as the highest priorities for travelers across all experiences, a shift from the conventional wisdom that price drives consumer behavior.
To serve Indian consumer Finnish travel fraternity should consider the following :
Indians have always loved to travel. Even pre-pandemic, India's outbound travel market has been showing a consistent rise over the past ten years. The growth drivers have been the rising middle-class segment that encompasses 350 Mn. of the population, increase in disposable income and a young demographic composition with its heart set on travelling the world. As destinations opened up India was the first to get out and enjoy the freedom that travel affords! In fact, India is slowly being looked at as the top source of tourists to a lot of countries.
Main distribution channels (biggest TO's)
Finnair operates direct flights from New Delhi to Helsinki (expected to resume operation in December 2021).The current accessibility from India is also through all the EU carriers (Lufthansa, KLM, Air France) as well as Emirates, Qatar and Fly Dubai. Turkish Airlines & Air France direct connect to Rovaniemi during winters can also be promoted and capitalized in India.
Our most relevant USP's in India market are as follows:
Region Wise most relevant USP's for India:
Coast & Archipelago
Appended USP's are the key USP's which make Finland exclusive for Indians
Our main USP's for Finland listed above are extremely strong and extremely relevant for Indians in these times, wherein people are trying to find true mantra for happiness and health & safety measures will play an integral role in decision making for a destination wherein Finland truly stands out compared to the rest of the Europe. Santa Claus as an ambassador of goodwill, Incredible light phenomena & Arctic Wilderness experiences in Finland are also a key driving force and attraction for all the consumer segments from India including groups, FIT, MICE, Educational Trips, Luxury Travel etc. hence we can truly bank on it to target all product and consumer segments to recoup the market.
An additional key selling point for India market is Unique stays/accommodations offered by Finland
Luxury is the most important theme for India market followed by Education as Finland's Education system is well known in India as one of the best in the World. Outdoors as a theme can also be developed strongly for the young and adventurous Indians (Gen Y & Z) who are changing the overall landscape of holidays and are keen to experience and spend more time in the Outdoors.
Sustainability for Indians
Booking.com's Sustainable Travel Report for 2021 shows that 88% Indians say sustainable travel is important going forward. The pandemic has been a major contributing factor. 56% of Indians have said that the pandemic has caused them to make sustainable changes in their daily lives, like recycling, being energy conscious, and reducing food waste at home. It has probably been this influence that has put emphasis on sustainable travel, as and when we are able to travel again.
Taking personal responsibility to travel more sustainably. According to the findings, travellers' day-to-day sustainable commitments are consistent with their intentions for future trips, with 83%* of Indian travellers wanting to reduce general waste, 84%* wanting to reduce their energy consumption (e.g. by turning off air conditioning and lights when they are not in a room) and 80%* wanting to use more environmentally friendly modes of transport such as walking, cycling or public transport over taxis or rental cars. Respect for local communities is also high on the list as 74%* of Indian travellers want to have authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture when they travel, 91%* believe increasing cultural understanding and preservation of cultural heritage is crucial and 89%* want to ensure the economic impact of the industry is spread equally in all levels of society. Furthermore, 72%* will go as far as avoiding popular destinations and attractions to ensure they aren't contributing to overcrowding challenges and helping do their part to disperse the positive benefits of travel to less frequently visited destinations and communities.
Main Trends from India:
Health & safety key factors
What has changed from pre-Covid period to now is that people are increasingly preferring travel choices that provide hygienic staying options coupled with best safety protocols. In the survey, 70 per cent respondents ranked health & safety as the key consideration while re-sanitation of rooms was selected by 52 per cent respondents as a key requirement. Majority or about 66 per cent of the respondents showed willingness to increase spends to ensure higher levels of health and safety on their holiday.
Refundable or zero cancellation products
Another interesting trend brought out by the survey is that a whopping 81 per cent respondents reiterated their need for refundable or zero cancellation products. With the uncertainty created by the virus, people want flexible products where cancellations would be allowed as a rule.
Options for both domestic and international travel
What is interesting is that travellers want options for both domestic and international travel in just about equal number of preferences expressed in the survey. Among the domestic destinations, Kashmir, Leh-Ladakh, Himachal, Andamans, Goa and Kerala have caught the fancy of the travellers, while Dubai-Abu Dhabi, Maldives, Mauritius, Thailand, Europe, etc remain hot travel destinations globally.
18% want to travel in a vaccinated group
Also, 35 per cent respondents chose holidays between 3 and 5 days; 52 per cent for 6-12 days; and 13 per cent for over 12 days. About 62 per cent respondents prefer to travel with family/friends; 20 per cent as couple/solo; and 18 per cent in a vaccinated group.
77% prefer expert guidance
Even with the pandemic still lurking, 77 per cent respondents continued to express strong preference for interaction with an expert for guidance/reassurance, 27 per cent opting to purchase holidays through retail outlets; 17 per cent for home service; 33 per cent preferred a contactless experience of a virtual store/video chat; and 23 per cent opted for bookings via website/app.
(Thomas Cook India and SOTC Travel ,Third Holiday Readiness Report )
As and when travel resumes to Finland from India, it will stand out with its unique offerings and experiences specially for the upcoming winter season. Agents in India have started promoting Iceland, Switzerland , Germany & Spain as they have opened for fully vaccinated visitors from India and Indians are keen to do combination packages with Finland.
Target Segments with continue as listed below:
Nature Wonder Hunters
Products will continue as follows:
Culture and Lifestyle
Outdoor & Sports
High End and Luxury Experiences
Wellbeing & Sauna
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