HONG KONG, 4 July 2028: Singapore, its national airline and airport outshined neighbours in the 14th edition of the 2018 Best in Travel Poll by Smart Travel Asia, an online magazine.
Destination Singapore shined bright in the Cities of Meetings category holding on to the number two slot for the second year in a row.
Singapore Airlines also held on to the runner’s up spot in the Best Airline Worldwide category, with Qatar Airways leading the pack.
In contrast, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport fell off the top-10 airports list, while in the airline category THAI salvaged pride with a sixth Best Business Class Airline place and low-cost Nok Air squeezed into the top list for budget airlines.
This is the 14th year of the annual poll of worldwide frequent travellers without nomination fees, or voter inducements. The market research offers a genuine litmus test of travel trends and brand preferences among knowledgeable high-spend high-travellers who make on average 14 annual air trips within and to Asia.
While Qatar Airways bagged top spot in 2018 as the Best Airline Worldwide with the best business class, just ahead of perennial favourite Singapore Airlines, THAI salvaged some pride in sixth place for its business class product (the same as last year) and sixth for cabin service (down from third in 2017).
AirAsia was back top of the Best Budget Airline in Asia category followed by Jetstar Asia in second place, while the low-cost Thai airline, Nok Air, squeezed into the top-10 list.
No American airline made it to the top-10 list in any category.
Noted one reader: “Most airlines have cut back dramatically on economy class comfort and service. This is lamentable. But US-based carriers are notoriously horrific in all classes compared with Asian carriers.”
Singapore’s Changi Airport with its Terminal 4 up and running ranked Best Airport Worldwide with a wider margin this year than in the past.
In contrast, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi dropped off the top-10 for the second year in a row with passengers complaining about overcrowding, poor traffic flow within the airport, and problems with taxis demanding package deals instead of using the meter.
Also missing in the top-10 airport list, Samui Airport, finished 12th this year.
Shanghai led this year’s top-10 Holiday Destinations in Asia. Bali came in at second and Taipei third.
Bangkok had to settle for fourth this year, a decline from third place in 2017 and first in 2016.
Again, taxi cheats appeared to be the major complaint among frequent travellers. The airport drop has also damaged Bangkok’s perception in traveller minds.
However, Thailand gained four mentions in the top-10 Holiday Destinations in Asia; Bangkok, Phuket, Samui and Chiang Mai.
Hong Kong came top in the category City for Meetings, while Bangkok held its ground in fifth place (same as in 2017).
Singapore held on to its second place for two years in a row in the City of Meetings.
Key Poll takeaways
Younger online travellers are increasingly brand-blind as the online media that they connect with is dominated by small boutique brands building presence through social media and word-of-mouth.
Younger travellers are impulsive buyers who tend to go with the flow and they can change direction equally abruptly. Older travellers, 50 to 60 years and up, tend to be more discriminating when it comes to travel research and they tend to stay with classic picks where service standards can be predicted.
The 65-years and up category again seem to enjoy a second childhood of sorts with new boutique choices and price sensitive picks. They crave variety and local experience and tend to fall off the luxury grid though they will spend on quality.
This divergence was evident in all hotel categories even among new voters this year from China, India, Middle East, Vietnam, Russia, and Philippines.
The big winners were Bali, Thailand (despite Bangkok’s drop, largely on account of airport woes and taxi cheats), Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai, and Singapore with Vietnam picked as the fastest climbing destination with an attractive quality-to-price ratio.