Soon To Be a ‘Do or Die’ Decision for Travel Industry
Mobile phones are now the most pervasive form of technology in Asia and harnessing the new technology available for the mobile platform must be a central part of travel agents’ strategy for growth.
That was the assessment of Mr Desmond Chong, Director of Business Development and Emerging Business of Abacus International, a leading travel facilitator in Asia. He was addressing an audience of travel industry professionals during ITB Asia, 23 October.
With some 1.5 billion mobile subscribers in Asia Pacific, the sheer penetration makes mobiles a powerful tool for interacting with consumers, said Mr Chong. The top five countries for mobile subscribers, China, India, Japan, Indonesia and Pakistan, account for 1.2 billion, or 80 percent, of mobile subscribers in Asia Pacific.
“Currently three billion people in the world have access to a mobile phone and only one billion to a computer,” said Mr Chong. “With mobile phone users expected to rise to four billion by 2010, it is not difficult to imagine the mobile phone will become the world’s portal to the internet as well as the key to inter-personal communication.”
The development of advanced mobile technology is likely to have the greatest impact in Asia due to leapfrogging, which means developing countries can accelerate their development by skipping over inferior, costly technologies and adopt the most advanced ones. The growth of mobile in the region is a text-book example.
In the two biggest developing countries, China and India, it can be a struggle to find a fixed line phone connection, however many people have cell phones. On a per capita basis computers are also scarce with fewer people having access to a home computer than wi-fi-capable handsets. In India, for example, many people get their first internet access on a mobile phone instead of a computer.
“Travel is by its very nature mobile and travellers benefit from real-time information and increased simplicity in their travel arrangements,” Mr Chong said. “Most business and leisure travellers currently view mobile as a method to receive real-time updates and information, such as flight delays, gate information and directions.”
Mr Chong highlighted some of the challenges of true mobility in Asia. Chief among these is market fragmentation which complicates payment and raises the cost of transactions. However, he believes that the travel industry has the opportunity to drive innovation in the mobile marketplace as consumer and corporate needs are very much aligned for the sector. (ITB Asia News 2008/10/24)
About ITB Asia
ITB Asia is taking place for the first time at Suntec Singapore on 22-24 October 2008. It is organised by Messe Berlin (Singapore) Pte Ltd in conjunction with Singapore Tourism Board. The event feature more than 6500 exhibiting companies from the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East, covering not only the leisure market, but also corporate and MICE travel. It includes exhibition pavilions and tabletop presence for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) providing travel services. Exhibitors from every sector of the industry, including destinations, airlines and airports, hotels & resorts, theme parks & attractions, inbound tour operators, inbound DMCs, cruise lines, spas, venues, other meeting facilities and travel technology companies are all attending.