Boosting confidence in a time of uncertainty

SINGAPORE 12 January 2021: Lessons learned in 2020 and where the travel industry is heading in 2021 are core themes of opinion-ed from Group CEO Jane Sun released this week.

She heads one of the world’s leading online travel agencies a company often recognised as a bellwether that points to the state of health or otherwise of  China’s mega outbound travel market.

Jane Sun.

Here, she presents the approach adopted by Group during the past year, the patterns and developments shaping the future of travel consumption, and how OTAs and travel providers can harness the opportunities that have arisen during the crisis.

Energise and evolve for 2021

Customers first. Partners second. Ourselves third. This mantra guided Group through 2020. When the pandemic broke, the world braced for uncertainty, and travel ground to a halt. At Group, we set out to be customer-focused and support our partners, processing tens of millions of refunds and booking alterations.

Weathering the storm together

International bodies and industry peers must unite to assure travel safety. With no immediate end in sight to national and regional lockdowns confining people to their homes, but there is an itch for travel, and it is growing.

China’s domestic market recovers

China saw a dramatic near-complete recovery of domestic tourism. During the October Golden Week holidays data showed short-haul hotel bookings increase by almost 60% year-on-year, and post-1990s and 2000s travellers making up over 60% of tourists. Industry figures reveal over 637 million trips were taken in this holiday, setting records for the highest number of passengers since the outbreak.

This meteoric rebound broadcasted the strength and vitality of the Chinese market, setting the stage for the global recovery. The SingapoRediscover campaign offered nationwide discounts to attractions, hotels and transport to all Singaporean citizens. In November, Group and Singapore Tourism Board signed a three-year agreement forging a global partnership to co-market the ‘Garden City’ – a much-needed boost of confidence during this time of uncertainty.

Regional travel will regroup first

Before the pandemic, there was an increasing preference for travel to Asia-Pacific, with travellers choosing Japan, Thailand and Singapore rather than the United States, Italy and France. These global destinations will always top travel bucket lists. Yet, Asia-Pacific is home to thousands of attractive destinations. The rise of Asia’s middle class will result in roughly 90 million new travellers by 2025. It is clear that the region-centric approach brought on by the pandemic, and the evolution of the travel recovery will see regional tourism in Asia-Pacific continue to rise.

Digital revolution speeds up

As the world has been altered by the global pandemic, the silver lining on this dark cloud is that our infrastructure has also been refined and transformed. Extensive mobile penetration and savvy digital users have shortened the path from consumer to their chosen products and services. The new consumer landscape has yielded new expectations and a bi-polarisation of consumption where goods and services must remain customer-centric.

Covid-19 pushed us to evolve into a stronger and smarter platform that focuses on boosting user experience through maintaining glocalisation, being content-focused, maximising exposure of products and services whilst meeting the demand for top quality.

Travel revival

10% of the global working population are directly involved in the travel industry; thus, we need a travel revival to give hope to the hundreds of millions of people who depend on this sector. We need to consistently invest in the travel ecosystem to boost confidence and offer mobility and exchange even through this uncertain and disruptive storm.

Lucky 21

2021: Twenty-one being the number associated with luck and taking chances, it makes sense for us to tackle this ongoing uncertainty with an attitude that is not all doom and gloom but one that is open and optimistic. With hopes of a widespread vaccine rollout and innovative travel solutions such as air bubbles and gradual border openings, this crisis presents opportunities for our industry. We must venture into 2021 unified and energised, ushering in the future of travel.

Source: Opinion-editorial Group CEO, Jane Sun. For the original presentation check out

TTR Weekly welcomes op-eds from travel industry players and leaders who are directly involved in the travel business and know the issues facing travel companies first hand from personal experience.