Tuesday, August 12, 2008: The Asia Pacific region will surpass both U.S and Western Europe in regional travel spending by 2018.
In fact, the Asia Pacific region which contains nearly one-third of the world’s population already exceeds the number of Internet users of its Western counterparts.
If current trends continue, Asia Pacific online travel spending will eclipse every other world region within ten years.
The fact that Singapore hosted the inaugural Thought Leaders in Interactive Distribution Roundtable in January this year illustrates just how important online distribution has become in the Asia Pacific.
Participants were segmented into groups based on three pre-established themes: (1) Leisure Shopping & Buying, (2) Business & Event Travel, (3) Chains & Properties Distribution. Each group was charged with identifying key trends, players and regional issues.
The Roundtable Thought Leaders identified numerous trends, players and issues across all three themes. The most significant were:
• The evolution of interactive travel distribution will lag behind other world regions and ultimately occur differently in the Asia Pacific region.
• Leisure travellers in most of the region´s sub areas still rely on travel agents and aggregators to book travel. While they use Internet sites mostly for shopping, transactions are frequently completed offline and manually.
• Travel agents in most sub regions, largely rely on the phone to check rates and make bookings. Larger agencies and some aggregators are more likely to use global distribution systems (GDS) and implement online booking functionality than smaller ones.
• The leading forces in interactive travel commerce have been low cost air carriers (LCC), major international carriers, large international hotel chains and large online intermediaries/aggregators
• Business use of interactive and online travel distribution lags leisure use with the exception of bookings from some of the largest corporations.
• Major Asian international travel management companies have not achieved achieved the level of interactive distribution as the U.S. or Western Europe
• Interactive distribution of event-related travel is in its infancy.
•Most hotel properties in the region are not part of major international chains. While international chain properties will systematically and increasingly implement Western approaches to distribution strategy, smaller independent properties will lag behind such trends and rely more on aggregators and more traditional distribution methods.
• Online booking data for the region is highly inaccurate as no two chains identify online bookings in the same way.
As part of the key issues facing the region and priorities for a research agenda, the roundtable identified two top imperatives.
• Address a significant lack of accurate research information and data about Asia Pacific sub-regions with regard to interactive distribution.
• Find ways to resolve the issues of an inadequate and/or under-trained staff and management in the area of interactive distribution.
The fact that the Asia Pacific Region will have the largest travel spending and most online booked revenue within the next decade the aforementioned issues need to be addressed immediately.