Rethinking tourism with travel technology | Tech US News

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Today’s tourism has evolved to become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world. It is estimated that the sector represents 10% of the world’s gross domestic product, contributes to one in 10 jobs worldwide and one in four of all newly created jobs, according to the International Labor Organization.

Closer to home, the tourism sector is slowly making progress to return to pre-pandemic levels, after almost two years of standstill. While there is no doubt that “revenge travel” has taken center stage, as far as Malaysia is concerned, the recovery of the sector has been taking place since last year, albeit at a slow pace. Overall, experts suggest that it will take another two years for Malaysia to reach the volume of tourists reached in 2019.

Data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia showed that a total of 66 million visitors were recorded in 2021, indicating that people could not wait to travel again. Separately, a report by CGS-CIMB Securities suggested that by this year, foreign tourist arrivals are expected to reach 30% of 2019 levels, and by 2023, arrivals are expected to reach 80% of levels reached three years ago years .

Be that as it may, the tourism sector is on the cusp of a technological transformation, and there can be no better time than now. And in a rather timely move, the Malaysian government, in launching the National Tourism Policy (NTP) roadmap to sustain the country’s tourism industry until 2030, outlined ‘Smart Tourism 4.0’, an initiative to advance the sector by capitalization of technological innovations. .

The Smart Tourism 4.0 initiative was launched by Tourism Malaysia in April 2018 to take the industry to the next level by seizing opportunities in the digital age. The efforts, according to the Government, will pave the way for new innovative sub-sectors and create employment opportunities in line with the PNT and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

A study by Monitor Deloitte suggested that smart tourism has the potential to increase Malaysia’s tourism revenue from the current US$25 billion (RM118.52 billion) to US$110 billion by 2030, an increase of more than four times Several travel-focused start-ups have worked alongside government agencies to make this possible.

Angelica Chan

While it’s safe to say that most industries have embraced digitization over the past decade, the travel industry in particular has made technology its most important catalyst. Today, the application of technology in the travel industry has evolved exponentially.

To put that into context, according to a Statista forecast, the post-pandemic global tourism industry will reach an estimated $637 billion in revenue this year, driven by the emergence of online travel booking sites that appeal to highly mobile and tech-savvy users. experienced users from Southeast Asia.

Indeed, when it comes to travel, the consumer journey is full of twists and turns, as the data has shown. From searching for destination ideas, to choosing and booking activities, comparing accommodation facilities across multiple platforms, as well as obtaining an e-Visa or sharing adventures with the world, technology has made it easier for many to go deeper with their travel plans.

In truth, digitization has not left any segment of the travel ecosystem untouched. Even when the pandemic hit, the adoption of digital technologies has increased for several years, and many of those changes are considered to be here for the long term. Statista data showed that in fact, digital transformation investments are expected to exceed $1.8 trillion by the end of 2022 and $2.8 trillion by 2025.

There is a travel boom. Is the industry ready?

Now, the big question for the travel industry is how travel companies around the world can pick up the pieces and start operating after the pandemic. Undoubtedly, companies in the tourism segment should move quickly to adapt to the new landscape, as the worst effects of the pandemic have begun to ease. After all, ill-prepared companies could easily buckle under the pressure of an increased influx of travelers, which is why technology could well be a powerful enabler in that quest to stay abreast of the latest trends within the travel technology segment.

In Asia specifically, travel technology will certainly revolutionize the industry, making it more agile, accessible, convenient and sustainable. As the Asian Development Bank’s research on Covid-19 and the future of tourism in Asia and the Pacific indicated, technology has enabled the rise of contactless payments, virtual experiences, data and knowledge collection, digital tools for testing and tracing of Covid -19, as well as online vaccine passports, among others.

Even as far as Malaysia is concerned, companies in the tourism industry should look to streamline processes and personalize the customer experience, as well as invest in solutions such as digital analytics. For example, given how industry players such as online travel agencies can have a wealth of useful information about how the external ecosystem is evolving, their experiences can be beneficial for hotels and airlines to explore possible associations

It’s the ideal way for different sectors of the travel industry to work together to deliver the latest travel push.

The way forward

Take Traveloka, for example. As a leading travel and lifestyle platform, its selling point goes beyond offering competitive airfares and hotel room rates. The platform has been offering several technology-based innovations to meet consumers’ growing travel and lifestyle needs. The company, even before the pandemic, has been leveraging data analytics to understand the evolving needs of consumers.

Crucially, Traveloka found that technology has also led to a greater demand for convenient and connected experiences, especially among millennials who see value in managing all aspects of their digital lives online from a single platform. The approach allowed Traveloka as a company to target new business verticals while adjusting operating models in near real-time.

As the travel and lifestyle platform has also gathered expertise in data science, cybersecurity and cloud-native architecture, it can today gather insights from Southeast Asian data, all while formulating new solutions based on emerging demand. Overall, to capitalize on and continue to stimulate consumers’ desire to return and travel, travel companies should step up their game and look for innovative ways to enhance the travel experience.

Overall, an overall strategy of being data-driven, technology-enabled and human-centric is the way to go to deliver a more personalized experience.

Angelica Chan is the country manager of Traveloka Malaysia, a regional super travel app.

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