A Special Report long read

Sri Lanka benefits from ‘affluencers’ and wealthy female millennials who are key ‘bucket list’ travellers


First it was ‘influencers’, travellers who used social media to tell the world what a great time they were having as they ticked off their bucket-list destinations.

Now its ‘affluencers’, those who have the money and the means to indulge their every whim—and demand that their chosen destinations live up to their expectations!

And what they want above all else are experiences, according to a landmark study on Affluent Travelers from Ipsos, a global market-research company specialising in wealthy consumers.

Which might help explain why for the past couple of years Sri Lanka has been top of global bucket-lists as a must-visit destination that has it all!


According to Ipsos, there are six key types of affluent travellers, and its Affluent Intelligence report covers their attitudes, desires, and expectations.

Those six types are Wellness Seekers, Active Challengers, Sightseers, Cruisers, Historians, and Gourmands, and each has its own set of values, attitudes and expectations.

Why historians? It turns out, according to the US-centric report, that this is the group with the highest net worth—$1,047,000—and the second highest median household income—$191,000.

It seems they are also “the most open of all the categories to ‘charting new territory’”—in short, highly educated individuals who are “very interested in exploring new cultures”.


Wellness Seekers Ayurveda is Sri Lanka’s art and science of healing, and together with yoga is a magnet for foreigners seeking peace of mind and body in beautiful and inspiring surroundings.

Ipsos reports that with a median income of over $200,000 a year, “wellness seekers are looking for wellness-focused experiences that also include great food, adventure, culture, and more”.

“While currently, this segment is mostly women, there is a trend towards more men planning this type of vacation (over 50 percent).

“While this group tends to be female, the next wellness seekers will include more men—over 50 percent of those currently planning a vacation of this type are male.”


Active Challengers This is the most energetic segment, and says Ipsos: “Appearances matter to this group of risk takers who like to stand out from the crowd.”

And with their environmental consciousness, “you’re likely to find them staying at a green hotel. And, of course, they are interested in participating sports”.

Sightseers The largest affluent travel segment, they “are less interested in relaxing and more likely to see, collect new experiences, and learn while traveling”.

They are also love to explore their surroundings, which is another big plus for Sri Lanka with our amazing landscapes, ranging from the forest-covered Hill Country to plains and wildlife parks.


Meanwhile, Ipsos reports that the six key types of ‘affluencers’ have “six key travel attitudes”: Pioneering (be the first); Transforming (life-changing); Learning (trying new things); Pampering; Indulging (food and drink); and Challenging (get physical, especially outdoors).

At the same time, says Ipsos, there are 13 ‘Travel Desires’: Relaxation, Adventure, Culture, Romance, New Experiences, Meeting New People, Learning about Other Cultures, Learning about Myself, Eating Great Food, Physical Activity, Learning New Things, Personal Growth, and Connecting with Family.

The core of the Ispsos report underscores what we already know—that millennials, especially affluent millennials, are the drivers of most of the rapidly developing travel trends.

And says the Hoteliers website: “It was fascinating to see our previous observations of experiential travel catalogued by Ipsos in this way.”


The key trend is the desire to learn and experience new things, and that “with 90 percent of millennials agreeing that these are the purpose of a vacation, we expect to see a major shift towards learning being incorporated into many aspects of travel”.

A surprise twist to all this is revealed by The Marketing Insider, which reports that “the true trailblazers in the travel category are millennial women.

“In fact, their desire to chart new territory is so pronounced that it drives the differences between millennials and older generations.”

The report—Millennial Women: The New, Experiential Travel Trailblazers—notes that “as a generation known for valuing experiences over ownership, it’s no surprise that 61% of affluent millennials claim they ‘live to travel’.”


And in the Age of Facebook, it is especially significant that “millennial women also turn to social media to verify the quality of a destination or activity — and, while traveling, they seek out opportunities to curate the perfect content for their personal feeds”.

“A whopping 69% say they want to be the first person in their network to visit new places (compared to 44% for Millennial men), and over half share updates on social media while traveling as a way to show off their experiences and accomplishments, which their Millennial male counterparts are not doing nearly as much.

“Their hunger for novelty extends to accommodations as well. The Millennial woman is more adventurous than her male counterparts when it comes to hotels.”

In fact, “nearly all of them (90%) say they prefer new and unique accommodations and 58% say they like to try new hotel brands, types and styles over more traditional, familiar types”.


The report concludes that, when given the choice of a vacation destination 78% of millennial women will always choose the unfamiliar option versus the tried and true.

This quest for novelty influences not only the destinations Millennial women choose but the types of vacations they plan.

In addition to being more likely to prefer multiple weekend trips instead of one long extended trip (in order to visit more places and do more things), 63% of millennial women say they prefer structured itineraries while traveling.

In short, destinations should “appeal to the millennial women’s desire to be first. Speak to their pioneering spirit and look for ways to provide the unique opportunities they seek”.

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