Malaysians are a connected lot with 70% of her population or 18 million people using the Internet. 96% of them are on the phones and of these, 71% are smartphone users (as of January 2016), disclosed Chin Wei Joa, Assistant Account Manager for Media & New Business Development for Consumer Choices at German research company GfK. In terms of gadgetry, 35% are estimated to be frequent laptop users, 14% on the tablets while another 4% own TV streaming devices such as the Smart TV for purposes like watching the TV, youtube, facebook etc.
Wei Joa also shared that up to 41% of the Malaysian Internet users are on facebook and this proves to be a good starting point for marketers in the travel and tour industry. The ever popular whatsapp messenger app on the other hand has about 39% Internet users connected. Wei Joa was one of the two presenters at MATTA’s second Travel Tech Talk which took place on the 16th of November 2016 at Wondermama Restaurant & Cafe, Bangsar Village I. Fellow presenter for the evening was TripAdvisor’s Senior Manager for Partnership APAC Cheng Chek Lim, more commonly known as Chek.
From data compiled right out of the leading global travel site, TripAdvisor experiences about 280 contents upload per minute. They come in all forms from text, photos to videos and this number extrapolates to about 145 million a year. The volume is undeniably immense but this Internet of Things phenomenon is only from one online travel portal. Imagine the volume when combined with fellow travel sites globally.
Chek also shared that a Boston Consulting Group study estimated that about 20% of the world’s outbound travellers in year 2020 will hail from Asia, and half of them will be from China. This could spell good news for Malaysia because standing alongside the mainland Chinese currently as Asia’s top three outbound nations are India and Indonesia. All three have been Malaysia’s keen visitors.
“Malaysia attracts a diverse group of tourists from short, mid to long haul distances,” declared Chek with Singaporeans and Indonesians occupying the top spots. This is followed by travellers from the UK, US and Australia. In the next tier are China, India and Japan.
Headliners of the season is perhaps the South Koreans. Their recent spike in interest towards Malaysian destinations are embedded with some technological surprises. For one, they exude better confidence in utilising mobiles that goes from ordinary browsing to actually making reservations. They even engage the mobiles to navigate their way around while in Malaysia. Such collective use have racked up TripAdvisor’s data for tracking mobile engagements on Malaysia via the travel portal; the Koreans scored an impressive 46%.
The rise of the mobile is reminiscence of the rise of the Internet around the turn of the millennium. Its usage has far reaching impact and influence, driving both businesses and society to greater exposure every day. Today, information and articles are more accessible via Google than they ever have been in the libraries. Social movements have also chalked up successes and failures from events like “Rise”, “Occupy” and “President Trump”.
For the most part, the Internet has a clarion call to everyone - that one must adapt or risks being left behind. But MATTA Deputy President Rohizam opined that the challenge is one of mindset, “Who or which company is willing to dedicate one person just for the online business?”
“In a progressive competitive and borderless market, technology is key to propel the industry forward. The use of technology in the tourism industry will make it easier for both the customers and industry players,” said Organising Chairman of the Talk and MATTA Vice President for Research & Technology Faeez Fadhlillah. The Talk he said is aimed at gathering industry players and to share current trends of emerging technologies important to travel.
“We aim to equip agents with the latest trends in technology which is available worldwide, to strengthen their business proposition as well as tap into new revenue streams.”
Although only the second instalment, held about two months after the first on the 18th of September at Google’s Malaysian office, information presented that evening were of significant interest to the audience in attendance. The takeaway for the evening included tips to remain competitive online such as attending to bad reviews as quickly as one detects it. It may also help to add with a tinge of humour said Wei Joa. The ability to engage on all touch points - digital and analogue - are also essential. This includes the website, social channels and printed collaterals of brochures, flyers etc.
In the end, the proficient and discerning users today are all drawn towards only one thing, aside from scouring for the best deal, they welcome a memorable experience. So if one can sell an online experience well, the deal is probably done before they log off.