Voice interaction is changing the face of travel marketing – Travolution.co.uk

call centreWe all want to acquire new customers and gain the loyalty of existing ones – but what is really the key to achieving this? Travel brands are increasingly focusing on the digital journey to support the customer objective, but this does not help anything if the offline customer journey is ignored. It’s not just all about online interactions; there is still a real value in doing business over the phone.

It makes sense to focus on online, especially as in 2013, 72% of all adults bought goods or services online, up from 53% in 2008. The constant evolution within social media have dragged businesses’ attention to social and digital platforms. However, when it comes to actual conversions, 65% of businesses consider phone calls to be their highest-quality lead source. This is where the human side of the customer journey comes into play and the point at which the voice can make or break the sale.

travolutionvia Guest Post: Voice is changing the face of travel marketing – Travolution.co.uk.

London Tops MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index as Most Visited City | Global Hub

LondonLondon Tops MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index as Most Visited City Bangkok, Paris, Singapore and Dubai Round Out Top Five,

London tops the list as the destination of choice for international travelers for the third time in four years, according to the annual MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index released today.

Now in its fourth year, the index provides a ranking of the 132 most travelled cities from around the world.Rounding out the top five cities are Bangkok, Paris, Singapore and Dubai, which are benefiting from a surge in international travel fueled by an expanding middle class, innovations in luxury travel and rising need for business travel. The index also indicates this surge will continue, even with more technology and collaboration tools available to businesses.

According to the study, London is projected to receive 18.7 million international visitors in 2014. Forecasted visitors to the rest of the top five cities include:Bangkok – 16.42 millionParis – 15.57 million visitors Singapore – 12.47 million visitors Dubai – 11.95 million visitors

“The index points to a continued strong demand and interest in air travel, both for business and personal travel,” said Ann Cairns, president of International Markets, MasterCard. “The recognition of this year’s top international destinations reinforces the continued importance of cities as business, cultural and economic hubs. And, that’s where we come in. Every day, we help consumers and businesses maximize all of the travel opportunities available to them, including a safe and secure way to pay no matter where they are across the globe.”

via London Tops MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index as Most Visited City | Global Hub.

Online travel agents: Sun, sea and surfing | The Economist

economist logoIn 1996, when Microsoft was still ahead of the big technology trends, it launched a small brand called Expedia Travel Services. It hoped to persuade customers to book holidays online. It was not an immediate success. Few households had an internet connection then and, just as importantly, most people thought the idea of buying a holiday through the ether not to mention typing their credit-card details into a web browser plain foolish.

Few think the idea crazy now. Expedia, which Microsoft sold in 2001, has become the world’s biggest travel agent see chart. Last year, through brands such as Trivago, Hotels.com and Hotwire, as well as its eponymous operation, its gross bookings were $39.4 billion. The third-largest travel agent is also an online firm: Priceline, whose brands include Booking.com, made reservations worth $39.2 billion in 2013. Last year online travel agents OTAs had combined bookings of $278 billion, according to Euromonitor, a market-research firm.

Indeed, when it comes to reserving flights, hotel rooms and rented cars for holidaymakers, the online-travel market looks quite mature in many rich countries. PhoCusWright, another research firm, reckons that online booking now accounts for 43% of total travel sales in America and 45% in Europe. Since much of the rest is accounted for by business trips handled by specialist corporate-travel agents such as Carlson Wagonlit, scope for the OTAs’ market to grow seems limited. That explains Priceline’s purchase, announced on June 13th, of OpenTable, a restaurant-reservation website, for $2.6 billion: it sees this as a way to earn commission on another chunk of tourists’ spending.  There are some big markets where online bookings have yet to take off.   Germans still typically arrange their holidays through traditional travel agents. Although the Chinese now spend more on travel in aggregate than any other country’s population, in 2012 they booked only 15% of their trips by value online, says PhoCusWright.   It thinks this will rise to 24% by 2015, making the Chinese online-travel market worth around $30 billion.  Much of the expansion will be driven by ambitious local firms. Ctrip, the biggest, makes most of its money from air tickets and package tours to Greater China. But as Chinese tourists become more intrepid—ranging farther afield and no longer shuffling around in big tour groups—online hotel bookings are becoming more important.  Ctrip’s hotels division has grown at an average of 25% a year for the past five years, according to Trefis, a stockmarket-analysis firm, and had revenues of $366m in 2013. It will not be long before it eyes Western markets more keenly.

To stay ahead, the big OTAs are having to follow their customers as they switch from desktop computers to smartphones and tablets.  By 2017 over 30% of online travel bookings by value will be made on mobile devices, thinks Euromonitor. In part this will be the result of OTAs making their apps more appealing by, for example, adding location services that help travellers find the nearest rooms and restaurants. But it is also because the way people plan trips is changing. It generally takes a family more than three weeks to book a holiday, from deciding to travel to clicking the “pay now” button, in which time they may visit seven websites, says Faisal Galaria of Alvarez & Marsal, a consultant. In future, travellers are likely to become more impetuous, he says, and smartphones appeal to those making last-minute bookings.

For those still surfing for holidays on their PCs, other technological advances are on the horizon.  Amadeus, which supplies the software behind many OTAs’ booking systems, is developing new ways to entice customers to the agents’ websites. One is to use browser-tracking technology to aim personalised ads at consumers, showing them the latest prices for trips in which they had previously shown an interest. Such targeted advertising has been common among non-travel retailers for some time. However, until now it has proved trickier for the travel business as it involves collating frequently changing data from many airlines and hotels.

Gorilla marketing

Even with help from such marketing tricks, the smaller OTAs will find it increasingly hard to compete with the big two. Online travel is an industry in which size counts. The scale of Expedia and Priceline means they can sign up more hotels, and negotiate better prices, than their smaller rivals. This is a business that requires heavy spending on marketing, which hands another advantage to the big two.  OTAs will spend more than $4 billion this year on digital advertising, according to eMarketer, also a research firm; and Priceline and Expedia will account for over half of this. Some smaller rivals may find profitable niches, but in general it will be hard for them to grow. Whenever they open a door, “there are already two 800lb gorillas fighting it out in the room,” says Mr Galaria.

Not only gorillas. The observant may also spot an elephant in the room.  In 2010 Google bought ITA, a maker of flight-search software, and the next year it launched a flight-comparison website. The giant search company has also improved its hotel listings by including photographs and virtual tours, as well as price information. It has the clout to disrupt Expedia and Priceline if it so wishes. It has not done so yet. Google, many believe, would be loth to cannibalise such a large chunk of its main business: analysts think the big two will account for as much as 5% of its advertising revenue this year.

So besides Ctrip, perhaps the biggest threat to the big two OTAs is TripAdvisor, a popular travel-reviews site spun off by Expedia in 2011. This month it said travellers would be able to book hotels directly through its smartphone app. Weeks before Priceline’s deal with OpenTable, TripAdvisor announced it was buying La Fourchette, another online restaurant-booking service. The online-travel market is consolidating fast, but so far holidaymakers need not worry about a lack of options

via Online travel agents: Sun, sea and surfing | The Economist.

Shaping the Future of Travel in the GCC – a landmark FREE Report from Amadeus

Shaping the Future of Travel in the GCC – a landmark FREE Report from Amadeus.

It has been an absolute privilege today to take part as the moderator in the launch of a landmark study and event organised by Amadeus.  Their new report on the Future of Travel in the GCC is undoubtedly one of the best ever and most important travel industry related reports conducted in the region.

Drawing on the expertise of industry leaders across 22 travel brands and insights from over 1,000 end travellers this report describes the key effects that will shape the future of travel for this exciting and important part of the world.

amadeus new logo on blueThe headline “Big Effect” is that rapidly changing demographics will fuel a major shift in GCC travel over next 15 years.  The coming-of-age of the GCC’s youthful population will reshape the travel industry in the region over the next fifteen years, as digital natives instinctively turn to mobile technologies and social media to plan, book and manage travel.

Today, nearly 25% of the GCC population is under 15 years of age, and as this demographic becomes tomorrow’s decision makers, it will shake up traditional behaviours to become increasingly self-directed. As outlined in the Amadeus-commissioned new report, Shaping the Future of Travel in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Big Travel Effects, additional unfolding demographic forces such as a steady inflow of expatriate workers, robust natural population growth and a growing middle class, will combine to drive a new and divergent set of travel behaviours and needs in the region.

The report, written by Frost & Sullivan and Insights and commissioned by Amadeus, examines and contextualises the various ways a new travel landscape will develop in the Gulf region over the next fifteen years.

“The Gulf region is poised for a new era of travel as investment in infrastructure, new tourism sectors, and governmental initiatives to ease intra- and extra-regional movement make the GCC more attractive to leisure and business travellers,” said Antoine Medawar, Vice President, MENA, Amadeus. He added, “The travel providers who address the nuanced needs of the region’s population stand to thrive in the coming decades. At Amadeus our people, our technology and our innovation are dedicated to helping our customers and partners to shape the future of travel in this region.”

Further key findings include:

Economies in the GCC are diversifying beyond oil, and specialist tourism sectors such as cruise, meetings and conferences and medical tourism play a prominent role in this diversification. As a result, GCC countries have maintained an average GDP growth of over 5% in the past decade, with a greater increase expected in the future.

Tourism will have a trickle-down effect into other sectors, furthering economic growth and diversification. Hospitality and construction in particular will benefit as the number of travellers entering or passing through the region increases -Qatar expects 3.7 million tourists in 2022 due to the FIFA World Cup and is investing $20 billion on tourism infrastructure and $140 billion on transport.

The GCC is working to make travel easier, both within the region and outbound. The difficulty of obtaining a visa has been the main reason for 33% of travellers surveyed not taking trips as often as they would like. By improving accessibility within the region and abroad, the number of intra-regional travellers is expected to increase four-fold by 2030.

“Travel in the Gulf region is changing. Economic diversification and a move from oil is an important driver, but there are many more subtle factors also at play. Changes in population and geopolitical pressure to open borders and make movement easier are also impacting the future of travel here,” observed Mona Faraj, Managing Partner, Insights.

The report was informed by a survey of some 1,000 travellers from the region as well as interviews with thought leaders in the travel industry. It highlights the technologically savvy and growing population of the GCC and predicts a travel landscape will develop in the region that is highly connected, personalised, and sustainable.

To download a free copy of the report “Shaping the future of Travel in the GCC: Big Travel Effects” please visit:

http://www.amadeus.com/blog/05/06/middle-east-report/

The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller

pata logoUnderstanding the travel habits of ‘Asian millennials’ is essential to understanding the business, family, or senior traveller of tomorrow. That was the message from the PATA seminar, ‘The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller’ which was held March 5 at ITB Berlin. In a panel moderated by Peter Jordan, PATA In-house consultant, the audience heard from Pyung-sup Shin, Executive Director for Overseas Marketing of the Korea National Tourism Organization on the successful 2012 ‘Touch Korea Tour’ campaign and how it drew interest from thousands of potential young visitors from around the world. High-value Asian students studying in Europe were the focus of comments by Thibault Ruffat, Head of European Tourism for ChicOutlet Shopping. He emphasized that it was not just young Chinese visitors who were shopping in Europe, but Indonesian and Korean tourists too. Charlie Ballard, Director of Research for TripAdvisor, described how according to the company’s research, travellers from the Asia Pacific region were highly attracted to specific cultural attractions and the possibility of having fun. He also described how domestic travel was still high on the agenda for many travellers in Asia.

Ivy Chee, PATA Regional Director – East Asia, told the audience that PATA will continue to build its ‘Next Gen’ initiatives. Currently, 11 PATA Student Chapters have been established in Asia. The PATA Face of the Future award recognizes rising stars of the travel industry. In addition, the Association has launched the PATA Internship Associate Programme.

PATA is currently collecting data on the travel habits of young Asian consumers through an online survey, available online until March 21, 2014. The survey is available to complete in English, Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, Korean and Thai. Participants can enter a draw to win great prizes, sponsored by Tourism Malaysia and Aloft Hotel – Sukhumvit 11 Bangkok.

The report on young Asians’ travel habits will be released this April.

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Understanding NextGen Travellers Crucial to Shape The Future of Travel

amadeus new logo on blueNext gen Traveller Panel 2Adults who travel frequently, are tech-savvy, and are substantial Internet and social media users are poised to be the heavy travel consumers of the future. But how can the travel industry enrich the experiences of this digitally native generation?  Next gen Traveller PanelThat’s the question we sought to explore at our recent panel discussion in Dubai – entitled ‘Trending with NextGen Travelers’, which brought together some of the region’s top travel players to discuss this incredibly empowered traveller type. Building off the Amadeus NextGen research report– the event aimed to focus not on the technology itself – but rather where it can and will make the most difference.Moderated by Duncan Alexander, Head of Pacific Asia Travel Association, West Asia, the panelists included, our very own Antoine Medawar; Alana Witte, Director, Middle East and Africa, Revinate.com; Ali Draycott, Director, YouGov; Mohamed Al Rais, Deputy Managing Director, Al Rais Holidays; and Abdullah bin Omeir, Deputy CEO, Omeir Travel.

via Understanding NextGen Travellers crucial to Shape The Future of Travel.

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Digital Travel Sales Mature Worldwide – eMarketer

emarketerNew eMarketer figures show rapid growth in emerging markets

Consumers across the world are becoming more comfortable making purchases on the internet, and digital travel sales are beginning to mature on a global basis.

eMarketer develops digital travel sales estimates as a subset of business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce for 19 global markets, and according to our January 2014 forecasts, only three of those markets will still see double-digit growth rates by 2017: China, India and Italy. China’s robust 20.0% growth rate will be a significant outlier, with Italy and India increasing at 11.5% and 11.1%, respectively. We expect Spain to be the only other country growing faster than 7% in 2017.

Travel’s share of overall B2C ecommerce is often a bellwether for maturation of an ecommerce market overall, since travel tickets tend to be the first items consumers become comfortable purchasing online. In addition, due to its relative price tag in comparison with most retail items, travel often makes up a considerable portion of digital ecommerce before consumers adopt other types of retail purchasing.

eMarketer estimates that only four markets will see travel increase its share of B2C ecommerce between 2012 and 2017: Italy, Brazil, Finland and South Korea (the latter seeing a marginal 0.2-percentage-point increase)—while each of the other countries in our forecast will see travel lose share over the period.

via Digital Travel Sales Mature Worldwide – eMarketer.

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Tourist numbers surge to 1.1 billion | Sky News Australia

English: Tourist buses and the Great Pyramid o...

. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

International tourist numbers surged to nearly 1.1 billion in 2013 with growth in the Asia-Pacific region leading the industry to a strong year despite global economic troubles, the World Tourism Organisation says.The number of international tourist arrivals grew by five per cent from the previous year to 1.09 billion in 2013, said the Madrid-based UN body.That figure is expected to grow again by 4.0-4.5 per cent in 2014, the organisation said in a report.Tourist arrivals rose at the fastest rate in the Asia-Pacific, where numbers were up by six per cent to 248 million, it said.Europe, however, remained the biggest destination, with international tourist arrivals up five per cent to 563 million.Among countries of origin, Chinese tourists – already leading the way with expenditure of $US102 billion $A116.59 billion in 2012 – pushed up total spending by 28 per cent in the first nine months of 2013, the UN body said.Tourists from Russia, the fifth largest country of origin of international tourists, drove up spending by 26 per cent in the same period, it said.

via Tourist numbers surge to 1.1 billion | Sky News Australia.

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WIT – WEB IN TRAVEL : The Wrap: Wego unveils travel trends from Singapore, China, Hong Kong in the Year of the Horse

wegoMeta search engine, Wego, looks into the crystal ball and predicts the destinations travellers from the major hubs of Singapore, China, and Hong Kong will make their way to in the coming Year of the Horse. Singapore: In 2013, Bangkok and Hong Kong were the most popular cities visited by Singaporean travellers due to short travelling times and the strong Singapore dollar against the Thai baht and Hong Kong dollar, said David Lai, Wego’s market development manager for Singapore and Malaysia. However, the Year of the Horse will see Singaporean travellers showing greater interest and making more visits to Malaysia, especially Johor and Myanmar. “Johor has grown in popularity for Singaporeans, especially with the addition of a number of family oriented attractions and theme parks such as Legoland, Hello Kitty Land, as well as the shopping opportunities at the Johor Premium Outlets,” Lai explained. “Myanmar is capturing the attention of Singaporeans, and both business and leisure travel to Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, continues growing, beginning in earnest in 2012.” China: Zhao Tang, market development manager for Wego China, said Taiwan and Hong Kong are still the most popular destinations for Chinese mainlanders. “However, internationally we expect extensive growth as a greater choice of cheaper flights become available and foreign countries welcome Chinese travellers by improving their visa services.” Chinese travellers also love island resorts such as Bali, Phuket and Kota Kinabalu Sabah. “Both Indonesia and Thailand provide Visa-on-Arrival facilities, and Malaysia offers a simplified visa application process and 120 hours visa free transits, which has also helped make these destinations so popular.” Zhao also sees more Chinese visitors making a beeline to countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Korea wit the relaxation of visa restrictions there. Hong Kong: Wego’s market development manager for Taiwan and Hong Kong, James Huang, said the growth of low cost carriers in Asia would see more Hong Kongers travelling to South East and North East Asia. “There’s been tremendous growth in Hongkongers travelling to nearby countries such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea; while long distance travel to the USA and Australia has enjoyed a mild increase,” he added.

via WIT – WEB IN TRAVEL : The Wrap: Wego unveils travel trends from Singapore, China, Hong Kong in the Year of the Horse.

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