Asian travel companies expect to grow in the next 12 months, despite facing tougher market conditions and a global economic slowdown. This is one of the main findings of Abacus International Asia Travel Insights Survey 2011, which was released today.
The survey, conducted at a pre-European economic crisis period, found that 75% of Asian travel managers expect that their business will experience growth of more than 10% in the next 12 months, with 25.8% of respondents expecting to growth in excess of 20%. Asian economic growth, combined with the rise of mobile technology and an uptake of online services, were flagged as key growth contributors.
“Despite challenges earlier in the year, Asian travel industry growth and confidence remain high as it proves its resilience in mitigating any outstanding factors,” said Robert Bailey, President & CEO of Abacus International. “Businesses are continuing to invest into core areas of travel growth and this signifies high performance expectations over the next 12 months.”
Mobile technology was the most heavily highlighted area from the survey, with the vast majority of travel players aiming to establish a foothold in the mobile and online space. Respondents indicated mobile transactions, social media, mobile apps and mobile-specific websites as the key areas of investment for 2012.
“In this value-driven economy with the enormous growth of LCCs and lowering of prices, the travel industry is becoming increasingly competitive. Travel businesses have become more savvy in adopting the newer technologies in order to retain a competitive edge, especially now in the areas of mobile and electronic transactions,” said Bailey.
Almost all of the respondents in the Abacus survey had invested in some mobile technology over the past year, and planned to continue to in 2012. Almost 50% want to increase methods of online payment, while social media and mobile app expansion were also cited as key potential areas of investment in the next 12 months.
“Mobile continues to play a leading role in everyone’s daily lives, as well as in travel evolution, especially in Asia. While 3G, 4G and wireless broadband access surge ahead and more is invested in mobile payment gateways, the mobile device will play an even greater role for travel transactions in the coming year,” said Brett Henry, Abacus’ Vice President of Marketing.
Significantly, online travel growth (60.9%) was indicated as being the biggest driver affecting the Asian travel industry in 2012, greater than both fuel price fluctuations (46.1%) and the Asian economy (44.5%). Abacus noted that online channels are expected to grow dramatically through 2012 to reach US$19.7 billion globally by 2012. In Asia, online travel growth is largely fuelled by first-time travellers, many of whom have their initial travel booking experience online, as opposed to the US and Europe, where the rise of online travel growth was accounted for by their the shift from offline bookings.
“New travellers, especially those with rising disposable incomes and a strong desire to travel have embraced online bookings in Asia,” said Henry. “From 2000 to 2010, there has been a spike of 621.8% of internet users15 in Asia, and we are now coming into an age where the preferred, convenient and most cost-effective medium is online.”
The survey also revealed that more than half of travel businesses look to incur marketing expenditure in the areas of online, social media, mobile apps and coupons. About a quarter of respondents said they would increase their marketing spend in the online channel by 25%, with 78.1% looking to tap into the mobile channel over the next year.
“It is an exciting time in Asia now. As an industry we have faced a great deal of adversity, yet we still continue to grow and evolve. Abacus is proud to be at the forefront of these changes, communicating with our suppliers, partner and customers, to develop new solutions to best address their needs.” concluded Bailey. “The speed of change amazes me, as technology is outpacing every industry – adoption and experimentation will be the keys to see how, who and what emerge successfully.”