When it comes to headlines, the ones regarding Argentina have mostly been coupled with the words “crisis” or “inflation”, but the travel industry is one that has not been suffering in the country. In fact, tourism in Argentina is thriving and posing as a fertile ground for innovative online businesses in the travel industry.
The country has long been a popular destination in South America due to its combination of vast natural landscapes and its large cosmopolite center around Buenos Aires, but is also home to a population that is thirsty for travel and new ways of enjoying vacations.
Why focusing on Argentina’s travel industry is a smart move
Travel remains a high priority among Argentines. In 2018 alone, air flight arrivals increased by 23% compared to the previous year. The internet plays a big role in the industry, meaning that online merchants who are looking to expand should definitely invest in the Southern country.
An increasingly connected world has provided the emergence of two business models that drastically changed the ways travel market operates. One of them being metasearch engines, or meta-searchers, the websites that can book flights and hotel rooms literally in a matter of seconds. OTAs (online travel agencies), which are the websites that offer millions of booking options for hotels and other various travel services such as private or group tours, car rentals and others, have also been a game changer.
And showing that they’re more than on board with current trends, Argentines are spending a large share of their disposable income online with vacations. While 47% of web purchases are represented by retail products, 28% of them come from travel items and services — making tourism the second biggest e-commerce sector in the country.
Maru Orza, who runs the blog Kombi Rutera told El Tiempo about her own impulse to travel, while also taking a guess on why her fellow Argentines are traveling more: I think that Argentines are getting infected [by travel], we see that in other compatriots and we ask ourselves, “why not?”, and maybe it has to do with the fact that, in Argentina, most of us are the children and grandchildren of immigrants – Spanish, Italian, German, etc. – and somehow we inherit that spirit of going out to see the world.
In addition to the 16.8 million active Argentine e-commerce users, it is expected that 3.1 million more will be shopping online by 2021. More than 80% of web shoppers in the southern country are under the age of 25, presenting newcomers the possibility to offer competitive platforms that prioritize personalized experiences, intelligent customer service, and secure payment methods.
Another exciting factor for those looking to expand their market further South is that traveling has recently become more affordable in Argentina, and one of the reasons is a wider offer of airlines compared to other periods. President Mauricio Macri has recently enacted policies in order to expand the country’s aviation market and stimulate competition, thus creating a recent influx of companies operating there at lower costs. The measure has called for the opening of 135 new air routes in Argentina and other investments in airports and infrastructure for jetsetters both inside and outside the country. This means that merchants have a wider variety of services to offer for both Argentines and foreigners looking to visit Buenos Aires or the beautiful Patagonia region, for example. In fact, Argentina has a lot to offer for those who looking for a Southern experience.
In a recent interview, Argentina’s Minister of Tourism Gustavo Santos showed some excitement in bringing foreign tourists to the country, stressing that “we aspire to grow as a destination of nature, which is what the world will demand the most in the next decade.”, he also mentioned that, in a joint effort with the Chilean government, the goal is to make both countries “destinations of nature par excellence of the world”. Besides beautiful landscapes, Argentina offers tourists rich gastronomy, a wide variety of wines and an impressive culture.
And speaking of destinations, other popular spots inside of Argentina are Mar del Plata, Córdoba, and Villa Gesell. If you’re targeting Argentines who travel abroad for leisure, you should know that Brazil is their favorite country to visit. In fact, 40% of tourists who visited Brazil in 2017 were from Argentina. They have a special liking for the cities of Florianopolis and Rio de Janeiro.
It’s a two-way street: Brazilians love visiting the neighboring country and the same goes for other South American neighbors. Other cities in the top ten international destinations of Argentines are Miami, Orlando, Cancún, Santiago de Chile, New York, and Barcelona.
What you should know about travelers in Argentina today
While long vacations during Summer used to be popular between families and groups of friends a few decades ago, the practice is considered somewhat outdated nowadays — not only in Latin America but all around the globe. People have now been enjoying taking multiple breaks throughout the year during shorter periods of time. Instead of spending over 20 days out on the beach to profit from high temperatures, travelers now have a preference towards going to four or five different destinations during various seasons, causing a shift on traditional tourism. A study carried by Mercado Libre shows that 43.4% of Argentines commonly use January for their Summer break alone, 32.5% do it in February, and 10.4% of them have been postponing it until as late as March.
Technology has also been playing a big role in travel decisions and tourist behaviors. According to a research carried by Booking.com in 2017, more than half of Argentine travelers (57%) claimed they used more travel apps than in previous years, and 39% planned on using geolocation to get to their accommodations or to plan activities. It is also important noting that nearly 100% of travelers today use the internet to plan for their trips nowadays, even if they make the purchase in a physical travel agency. The data comes from Carolina Sass de Haro, managing partner of Mapie. She is one to highlight the importance of facing online tourism not only as a reality, but also as a redundant term: as she states that online tourism is nothing but the only way of tourism.
This brings us back to how the bubbling market is in need of innovative services that can cater to travelers’ needs. The easier merchants can make travel plans for their customers, the bigger are the chances of succeeding in this promising industry.
Other interesting facts worth knowing regard what tourists want to see and experience. While 38% want to know the locations they have seen in TV shows, movies, and music videos, nearly the same amount of people (37%) are choosing destinations based on blogs or YouTube channels. This represents a cultural shift that cannot be ignored. The line between the digital and physical world becomes blurrier each day, and while it may seem like a wave to surf on, it also means that exciting marketing opportunities.
And for those who don’t know, Argentina has the highest e-commerce growth in Latin America. Companies that thrive there manage to do so anywhere else because they achieve expertise with such a volatile scenario. The country also ranks second in the region when it comes to technology adoption in terms of internet usage, mobile penetration and cloud services development. Regarding online payment methods, credit and debit cards have penetration of 93%, while cash payment represents a total 7% of online payments.
Being acquainted with cultural particularities such as the hottest dates and destinations will give you a headstart in this thriving market, for both Argentines and international travelers looking to taking advantage of the now competitive market. Be sure to cater to local needs, such as having a Spanish version of your website, listing prices in local currency and accepting local payment methods. The business potential for the sector is huge and exciting. And as for the beautiful Southern landscapes, they speak for themselves!