Travel brands enhance their digital capabilities in Asia

Low Lai Chow

While travel brands were perhaps the first to fully experience the disruptive force of the ecommerce revolution, in many ways they still lag behind their customers on the web.

"The industry is behind, but consumers are way ahead. Consumers want to do more things than the industry wants to let them do," Sean Seah, managing director in Asia Pacific for Groupon Travel, told delegates at SES Singapore, a conference held in late 2013.

One reason for this trend is that a complex ecosystem defines the category, based upon the three-way interplay between suppliers, consumers and the internet companies that sit between them. But the momentum is only moving in one direction, meaning brands with a customer-centric view stand to gain major benefits.

Social media

Lewis Ng, commercial director for Asia Pacific at online pure-play TripAdvisor for Business, reported that nine out of ten people in the region log on to social media while they are overseas. "When you're traveling, you really want your friends to know you're traveling … The whole idea of traveling and sharing with your friends and your network: it's really helped the space," he said.