MarketHub: A shifting travel landscape

DENPASAR, Bali, 5 November 2019:  Travel experts say the rising trend of smartphones and Super Apps along with the upcoming Millennials and Gen Z traveller markets are driving growth in the travel industry in the Asia Pacific.

Also, they cite robust and innovative startups in the region that are providing alternative ways to customise travel to meet customer needs.

Challenged by the shifting business landscape and growing competitors that enter into young generation markets, travel businesses must focus on customer centricity, hospitality, and understand how to have a meaningful conversation with customers.

Speaking at the recent MarketHub Asia, held in Bali, Indonesia, Serth Borko, Senior Research Analyst at Skift, said that international travel is a long-term, uninterrupted trend, that is forecasted to reach 1.8 billion trips by 2029, or an increase of 500 million trips from 1.3 billion trips estimated for 2019.

The Asia Pacific is predicted to be a key region that drives travel growth over the next decade, with an increase of 273 million international trips or 36% of the total outbound departures by 2029.

In terms of spending, the average expenditure on an outbound trip in China stood at USD1,802 per trip, following by Thailand (USD1,292), Indonesia (USD1,236), emerging Asia ex-China (USD1,155) and India (USD931).

According to Skift Research, powerful sources that are influencing future travel are the Millennials, and Gen Zs, who say travel is their priority. The research found that 79% and 68% of young travellers in India and China, respectively, plan to increase spending on their leisure travel next year.

Meanwhile, smartphones are a real trend that plays a significant role for Millennials and Gen Z travellers in planning trips, which include searching and booking processes.

The survey also found that 71% and 67% of young travellers in China and India only use, or mainly use a smartphone as a device for their trip planning.

Also, 86% of the survey participants in China responded that they typically book their vacation accommodation via 3rd party booking sites.

The rising trend of smartphones in facilitating travel planning has been driving the growth of startups in the travel industry. New travel venture capital in the Asia Pacific jumped from around USD2,500 million in 2017 to USD3,781 million in 2018.

Asia is brimming with startups across all industries and in countries. There are startups across all travel sectors, including travel agencies, hospitality, tours and activities, vacation rental, and ride-hailing.

“It is vital to keep your eye on competitors and trends. But I believe a focus on your guests is a clarify exercise about what’s important. We should think from their point of view. Supper App, or on the phone? The most important thing is hospitality, which is the industry that we’re in, treat your guests with kindness,” said Borko. VP of accommodation, Cisyelya Bunyamin said” “Millennials is a big potential market in Indonesia. They are open-minded when compared to other generations and more liberal in making decisions. T For Millennials, everything is on the apps. That’s the reason why we try to make our app as easy and as friendly as possible for them to use.”

Hotelbeds wholesales sales director for the Middle East, Africa and India Phil Dickinson said: ” At Hotelbeds we want to understand customers and to fit in with their plans. Also, we need to make sure that our sourcing team provide the right products that answer their needs.”

Como Hotels director of revenue management and distribution, Puneet Mahindroo said the travel industry needed to use data effectively, keep it simple, and focus on customer-centricity.

“Revenue management must begin with the customer’s point of view. Otherwise, we lose our focus on why we are in business, whom we are serving, and how are we going to try nurture that customers to be customers.”