Part Two takes an in-depth look at where the industry is headed and what it will take for businesses to get where they want to be. While the travel segments vary, the common element that unites them all is not just the necessity of embracing tech but the opportunity to collaborate.
6) The return of water cooler culture?
As the world and workplace goes online and location-independent professionals seek new and interesting places to work, Steven Munroe (Hubud) is bringing back the ‘water cooler culture’ by cultivating Bali’s first co-working space.
The benefits are boundless – creating an intimate community of international professionals (with over 60 nationalities at Hubud alone), networking opportunities, and it costs less than renting a private office.
It also brings forth an opportunity for property owners to make better use of any under-utilised space.
For example, hotels could partner with organisations to optimise spaces such as their conference facilities and ballrooms. However, Dennis Alund (Kumpul.co) said this was a hard sell for hotels which tend to look at hard-and-fast ROI instead of “soft” elements.
Property owners (particularly hoteliers) must fundamentally understand that the startup culture would need to be nourished, in order to be successful and not regarded simply as another revenue stream.
7) Tours and activities need educational support to thrive
Stephen Joyce (Rezgo) considers tours and activities the “ugly duckling” of the travel industry – something people acknowledge exists, but don’t know how to address.
While he considers the market ripe with opportunity (Stephen estimates Asia’s value at over US$100 billion), it is mired in operational inefficiencies, as the vast majority of operators are small, local (with limited outreach and online distribution) and are cash-based.
Fortunately, larger firms such as Viator, Expedia and BeMyGuest are able to offer smaller operators the benefits of exposure and global distribution through their online platforms.
Tushar Khandelwal (Voyagin) agreed, saying that once a tour company achieved a particular number of positive reviews on TripAdvisor, growth tended to occur organically (though the precise threshold was not disclosed).
Companies must also attract visitors directly by investing in digital advertising and optimising their websites’ functionality, to facilitate pre-arrival bookings. Also, embracing online payment methods like Asia Pay and Stripe may be better suited to travellers’ preferences.
However, Tushar also crucially points out that many operators lack a fundamental understanding of the online space and how to enter it.
Thus, digital strategy must go hand-in-hand with educational support to develop effective business practices, improve customer services, as well as to fully understand the potential of taking the business online.
8) The Indonesian travel market’s growing pains are similar to everywhere else
The truth is the Indonesian travel market is very segmented, but it is still growing according to Eric Tjepjep (Ezytravel), with Hiroyuki Murai (pegipegi.com) estimating that the OTA market itself will triple within the next five years.
Hans Tjandra (MG Group) argues however that Indonesian consumers are not necessarily ready to go online but do so because of its cheaper rates, as reflected by the growth in offline agencies as well.