A record number of Asian tourists are landing in the United States each year. And while we've already heard about China’s record growth in U.S. tourism, consider where the next big surge is originating: India.
Thanks to the streamlined ease of travel between the two countries, over 1 million Indian tourists are expected to visit the United States this year, bringing in an estimated $5.6 billion in spending. As owner of a Boston area company, Trademark Tours, we’ve experienced firsthand the start of this exciting surge in tourism. In fact, we’ve seen a 300 percent increase in Indian tour guest bookings for 2015.
Regardless of what your industry is, it’s important to adapt to this expanding market to ensure that you're part of a warm welcome. And while this demand initially caught our own business off-guard, we've invested time in learning what our new customers are looking for. Here are some tips we can share to help other small businesses capitalize on Indian tourism.
1. Offer package services.
Not sure where to get started in reaching this new audience? There are actually many small Indian tour operators already based in the United States who float their own packages to build U.S. markets with larger distributors in India. Local U.S. businesses should seek out these local operators in their own market and offer to package services to facilitate ease of travel.
2. Understand your demographic.
Take some time to understand whom you’re working with. Joseph D’Silva, the senior manager of Kuoni, the largest tour operator in India, says that Indian tourists are very energetic and want to engage in an interactive way. They're not looking for leisurely visits, D'Silva says; they want to get out and explore! Indian tour groups are especially interested in culture. They want to see and experience our regional and local tastes. Each state in India has its own unique flavor and traditions; so Indian visitors are accustomed to experiencing local culture when they travel. Fortunately, American states and cities have plenty of cultural diversity to share.
3. Take hospitality a step further.
The United States does a great job with hospitality. Many hotels have started introducing Indian movie channels and offering Indian dishes on their menus. And little personal touches go a long way: If you know you're hosting an Indian group, find out about their state in India and see if you have any relevant cultural connections to mention or highlight. Indians celebrate a huge number of holidays and festivals, by the way; make sure you know if one of them falls during their visit so that you can acknowledge it.
4. Respect Indian tourists' intelligence and fluency.
There is no need to simplify your subject for Indian tourists. They are known for being highly educated, excellent in spoken English and intellectually sophisticated as well as versatile travelers. Find a way to engage this group intellectually and they will be back for more!
When Indian tourists come to your city, be ready for them, and you will reap the rewards.