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Letter from Hong Kong: From real estate to community, from brick to clicks, can hospitality make the leap?

Web In Travel (WIT) - 20 October 2017
The sky is piercingly blue, as blue as it could only get after a huge storm has just whipped through. I am in Hong Kong two days after the last Typhoon 8 visited this city built on a rock. At the Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP), I heard a panel of investors saying perhaps it would take a perfect storm to jolt the hotel industry out of complacency and finally face the challenges coming at them from several fronts – from real estate inflation to tech disruption and a new generation of consumers.
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APAC destinations gaining favour with Chinese travellers, drop in trips to Europe

Web In Travel (WIT) - 16 October 2017
In 2016, while international travel grew by about 4%, China registered a growth rate of 13%, further consolidating its position as one of the world’s most important source markets for international travel. The country exceeded the Asian Pacific average outbound growth rate of 9% in the same year. There is also a shift in travel trends – destinations in Asia Pacific (APAC), city trips and Sun&Beach holidays are becoming more and more popular, while trips to Europe declined. These are the results of a special analysis by the World Travel Monitor, conducted by IPK International and commissioned by ITB Berlin. Here are the rest of the findings”
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Letter from Muscat: And so we enter the golden age of digital travel in Middle East

Web In Travel (WIT) - 12 October 2017
For some reason, Muscat seems closer in my mind than it really is. To get here, I had to connect via Dubai and with a four-hour layover, it’s almost a 12-hour journey and I thought I could have flown to London in that time. But returning to Oman eight years later was what I wanted to do. After all it inspired the first children’s book I co-wrote (Adventures of Habibi, The Wise Turtle) and once I landed, it all felt worthwhile. Okay, the visa on arrival process could be more efficient – for example, why couldn’t I have paid for that online prior to arrival and skip the queue? It was a point raised by Remo Giovanni Abbondandolo, general manager of Travelstart Middle East, when he spoke on a panel about payments at the Travelport Live MESA (Middle East & South Asia) conference held at Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa.
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The Wrap: Asia Pacific dominates air travel with 35% of the world market

Web In Travel (WIT) - 11 October 2017
Asia Pacific, once again, retained its position as the dominant region for air travel, commanding 35%of the world market. Its airline carried the largest number of passenger in 2016 – 1.3 billion passengers, representing an 11.3% increase on 2015. Globally, airlines carried 3.8 billion passengers last year, a rise of 7% over 2015 – an additional 242 million air trips, according to the 2017 edition of the IATA World Air Transport Statistics (WATS), the yearbook of the airline industry’s performance.
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Thought leaders, disruptors to gather in Singapore for travel forum sharing ideas on Better Travel

Web In Travel (WIT) - 9 October 2017
In less than two weeks, the bigwigs of the travel industry and up-and-coming disruptors will gather in Singapore for a three-day conference to cultivate ideas and ponder new ways to improve the travel experience. Some 500 delegates are expected to attend the conference that will run from October 24 – 25, 2017 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore. The conference features over 100 speakers and is supported by more than 30 sponsors and partners this year.
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China's overseas travellers are increasingly opting for experiences over shopping

Web In Travel (WIT) - 4 October 2017
Chinese travellers are heading out to Asia and Europe in record numbers for the eight-day October national holiday, known as the ‘Golden Week’ (October 1-8). Ctrip.com International, China’s largest travel site, reveals that over six million of its users are going abroad to spend the holidays, visiting 1,155 cities in 88 countries. They expected to spend an average of 9,800 yuan (US$1,500) each. However, instead of spending most of their vacation time with retail therapy many of these travellers are instead going for experiences – sightseeing to get to know the people and cultures of the destination, dining on local cuisine as well as rest and relaxation.
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Wego's Ross Veitch on getting the timing right for Middle East and marketplace ambitions

Web In Travel (WIT) - 4 October 2017
He may have been too early for Singapore as well as Indonesia – indeed South-east Asia in general – but Ross Veitch, CEO and co-founder of Wego, believes he’s finally hit the right timing in the Middle East. “We probably went into emerging markets too early,” he said. “We thought they’d develop fater than they did and one of the things we didn’t do was develop cash cows which could subsidise growth in other markets, like Skyscanner did. They turned the UK into a high performing business to subsidise other markets. Maybe we should have started in Australia first and grew that into a cash cow.”
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From idea to enterprise product, from WIT to New York

Web In Travel (WIT) - 29 September 2017
When Lyle Jover, co-founder and CEO of MyCape submitted his entry for a shot at the grand prize offered by WIT Startup Pitch last year, MyCape was “barely an idea”. A year later, it is now a “full-blown product, enterprise grade and has a great product fit with airline”. MyCape is a social travel app dealing in standby tickets for price-sensitive last minute travellers that are seeking “ultra affordable fares”. Cape allows travellers to continually monitor the likelihood of securing a ticket in real time, only paying when they are confirmed to fly. Cape also features a unique bidding system wherein users can up the price they are willing to pay on popular flights to increase their likelihood of travel.
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Alipay partners STB to enhance the Singapore experience for Chinese tourists

Web In Travel (WIT) - 25 September 2017
Online and mobile payment platform Alipay has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to “enhance Chinese tourists’ overall experience in Singapore”. Under the MOU Alipay, operated by Ant Financial Services Group, and STB will cross-share relevant and current content about the city-state on both the mobile payment platforms and STB’s Tourism Information and Services Hub. “This aims to increase exposure of Singapore’s offerings from various tourism businesses and provide Chinese tourists better information access before and during their trips to Singapore,” the two companies said in a joint statement. Alipay and the STB will also share data and analytics on trends in Chinese travel to Singapore with tourism industry stakeholders in Singapore to help them better understand and target Chinese consumers with more relevant products and experiences. Both parties will also “explore co-investment in joint-marketing initiatives to market destination Singapore and Alipay merchants with the objective of increasing visit spend via Alipay platforms”.
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Mobile-first experiences are the true-game changers in the in-destination economy

Web In Travel (WIT) - 25 September 2017
In 2013, one article reported that Ctrip had achieved more mobile bookings than desktop, and this was probably the first time that the term Mobile Travel Agency (MTA) had made sense to me. In retrospect, I’m not of the opinion that larger Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) woke up immediately to the opportunity that presented to them by the mobile. To this point, Expedia openly admitted to following a “mobile-second strategy” until 2015.

Mobile devices top choice for hotel shoppers, spending less time on web pages

Web In Travel (WIT) - 21 September 2017
A recent analysis of hotel website and customer shopping behaviour conducted by the Sabre Digital Experience team, showed travellers are relying more on mobile phones and tablets for both hotel shopping and booking, spending less time on webpages as a result, but showing more willingness to book once they’ve checked availability in a hotel’s booking engine. The survey was conducted during the first half of the year.

Post-restructure, IHG's Barr says it's about brand, scale and tech as it prepares to launch new reservations system

Web In Travel (WIT) - 19 September 2017
It was the Friday of the 10th Formula 1 weekend in Singapore. One assumes all visitors coming to town that weekend are here for the race but no, not the new group CEO of Intercontinental Hotels Group, Keith Barr. Barr was making a lightning visit to Singapore and the region to “spend time with the teams in Asia, Africa and Middle East”. He has to.

How Asia's hospitality industry can stay relevant in this competitive digital age

Web In Travel (WIT) - 19 September 2017
A new study by Meltwater, which provides insights and consultancy to help brands future-proof their business, examines how digital disruption is redefining the customer’s travel experience across the hospitality industry in Asia. Adopting a digital-first strategy could give hospitality companes a “first mover advantage” and help them better connect with customers at a personal level, citing Airbnb as an example.

6 openings, 3 months - AccorHotels' rapid move into APAC's luxury hotel space, first Sofitel in Malaysia

Web In Travel (WIT) - 14 September 2017
Soaring high above the office blocks and residences in Damansara Heights, an affluent suburb of Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara is an impressive sight with its wide driveway, sparkling marble floors and lofty ceilings. Opened last month the 312-room hotel is the first Sofitel in Malaysia, marking the brand’s entry into the country. It is also the first property in AccorHotels’ expansion of its luxury and upscale collection – the Sofitel and Pullman brands – in Asia Pacific (APAC) with six confirmed openings in the next three months.
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Japan Airlines, TripAdvisor join forces to grow Japan's inbound tourism in lead up to 2020

Web In Travel (WIT) - 13 September 2017
Japan Airlines (JAL) and TripAdvisor have formed a strategic partnership to launch an immersive multi-media portal, Untold Stories of Japan, to promote inbound tourism to the country, as well as encourage repeat visits. The portal, which will be launched next month, highlights the best that Japan has to offer to tourists, apart from driving sustainable tourism. It features the Tohoku, Kyushu and Okinawa regions, as well as cities in the vicinity of Kanto region. JAL and TripAdvisor will also collaborate with local governments, corporations and tourist facilities to further enhance the content and viewership of the portal.

SEO, IBE, SEA, Metasearch...FASTBOOKING guide works through complex world of hotel marketing and distribution

Web In Travel (WIT) - 13 September 2017
As a small, independent hotel, it can be quite intimidating to navigate today’s world of hotel marketing and online distribution. What should be enabling can be paralysing for some. The good news is, as FASTBOOKING details in its latest “Guide for Independent hotels”, “technology is a great facilitator, enabling more control and measurement, giving more access to a greater number of potential guests. Something that only a few could afford just a few years or months ago.”
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Malaysia's Tourism Tax: Finally enforced, but still faces long road to smooth implementation

Web In Travel (WIT) - 12 September 2017
On September 1 Malaysia implemented the controversial Tourism Tax (TTx) for foreign tourists, a RM10 (US$2.40) daily levy on hotel accommodation, much to the chagrin of the industry given that many questions remain unanswered. There is no clarity yet on how the tax should be collected even though hotels have been made responsible for the collection and budget hotels, whose rates are already low, are worried the levy will turn away guests.
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AirAsia wants to remove 'cash from the plane', first step a new Freedom Flyer scheme

Web In Travel (WIT) - 12 September 2017
Low-cost airline, AirAsia launched its new Freedom Flyer Programme last week at RedQ in Kuala Lumpur, a first step in group CEO Tony Fernandes’ dream of “removing cash from the plane”. At the launch, he said, “we never really knew loyalty very well… having said that, we have 13 million card members. My expectation is that it’ll contribute to our top line… Underlying all of this is my dream of making ASEAN smaller. With a points programme, we can enable people to fly more.”
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Writing about failures taught him, 'be a person of character, not a personality'

Web In Travel (WIT) - 12 September 2017
My first question to Vincent Ng, the co-author of “Why You Should Fail”, was, of course, “have you failed?” To which his eyes lit up with glee and he said, “Yes.” “I’ve been doing entrepreneur things since I was 16,” he said proudly. “I sold candy to my schoolmates. The money I made, I put into a multilevel marketing company which promised I could become a millionaire overnight. I bought into it. I lost most of my savings and the proceeds from the candy. It was a few thousand dollars but to me, at the time, it felt like a mountain.”

Technology boosts productivity of business travellers and keeps them connected, study finds

Web In Travel (WIT) - 29 August 2017
Technology, especially smart devices, has changed the way we work and play and a common comment we hear often is, “I can’t live without my smartphone”. This is the same sentiment shared by business travellers who, despite carrying carry different types of tech devices including tablet and laptop while on the road, consider the smartphone their one indispensable device. A new study released by Carlson Wagonlit Travel from a survey of more than 1,900 global business travellers aged 25-65 shows business travellers are bringing more devices, and feel more productive conducting their business

The day when Hurricane Dara lashed travel - imagine what he could do with Uber and Asia

Web In Travel (WIT) - 29 August 2017
Just as Hurricane Harvey was battering Texas and severe tropical storm Pahkar was lashing Hong Kong over the weekend, another kind of storm was being unleashed in the tech and travel industry– the news that Expedia Inc CEO Dara Khosrowshahi had been picked as the candidate to head Uber.
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The Wrap: Malaysia Airlines on track to become a digital airline, launches first Innovation Lab

Web In Travel (WIT) - 23 August 2017
Most airlines are turning to technology to keep with the changing times, as well as to meet the requirements of the always-on tech-savvy travellers. Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is one of these airlines embracing the digital revolution, and is transforming itself into a digital airline. It recently launched its first in-house Innovation Lab, dubbed the iSpace, which marks the third phase of its digital journey.
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Why Asians travellers choose non-hotel accommodation

Web In Travel (WIT) - 22 August 2017
Where do you like to stay when you’re on holiday? In hotels/resorts or go for private accommodation to get the ‘home away from home’ feel? If you fall in the latter group then you are in good company, as a growing number of Asians are opting for non-hotel accommodation (NHAs), also known as homestays, on their travels.
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Who is the APAC traveller and what do they want?

Web In Travel (WIT) - 17 August 2017
Amadeus released what it touts to be its most comprehensive study to date – “Amadeus Journey of Me Insights: What Asia Pacific Travellers Want” – a data-driven look at the world’s largest travel market, Asia Pacific. It is part of the company’s initiative to better understand how customer demands can be met in a more personalised way, as technology continues to enable deeper relationships.
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Data the secret sauce behind destination marketing - then it's what you do with it, just look at Hawaii and smile

Web In Travel (WIT) - 17 August 2017
For Andrew van der Feltz, a 21-year-veteran in destination marketing, his “aha” moment came when he joined Expedia Media Solutions two years ago and he saw the data, as it were. “Getting access to the data, that was my moment,” said the senior director for EMEA and APAC, who previously worked with the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions. “It really helps you to understand the consumer and follow their path to purchase.
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The Wrap: Klook lends Korea a helping hand to woo Asian FITs

Web In Travel (WIT) - 16 August 2017
Korea sees strong potential in the growth of visitors from other Asian cities and sets its sights on FITs (free independent travellers) from the region, and has teamed up with Hong Kong-based tour and activities booking platform Klook Travel (Klook) to get the numbers.

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