2014 has been nothing short of exhilarating.
In fact, this is a thrilling time to be a part of the travel industry in Asia Pacific, with two emerging themes propelling the region to global prominence: the ascendance of the Asian traveller and the explosion of mobile.
Asia Pacific is home to more than 60% of the world’s population but has long been underrepresented in terms of its travelling population. With the emergence of a travelling middle class, reduction in red tape across the region, and the rise of low cost carriers, APAC has risen to taken its rightful share of the global travel market.
In fact, leisure tourism revenue in Northeast Asia alone is set to climb by 10% in 2015 to $900 billion, surpassing leisure tourism in the EU and North America.
When we add mobile to the mix the story really becomes interesting.
In 2014 we saw a 25% year on year global growth in smart phone usage and a massive 65% growth in mobile travel purchases. Parts of APAC have essentially leapfrogged the online era and are leading the mobile charge, with China and India set to become the number one and two smart phone markets respectively, knocking the USA into third place.
The “who’s who” of APAC online travel were polled at the Amadeus Online Connect event in Phuket last month, and almost half said that mobile will be a game changer.
With a mobile in nearly every hand, being unlocked up to 110 times a day, we have a better opportunity than ever to truly understand and capture data throughout the traveller lifecycle. Hotels, airlines and travel companies have been compelled to introduce applications that put the traveller at the centre, including mobile booking apps, check in, boarding passes, reviews and hotel room keys.
As the chatter turns to wearable devices, which have been forecasted to skyrocket from nine million devices in 2013 to 180 million in 2016, the opportunity becomes even more fascinating.
Regardless of what the next big thing is, the message is clear – technology has empowered the traveller. Travel providers have to start placing the traveller at the heart of everything, finding ways to meld themselves into the lifestyle of the traveller, or risk being left behind.
I truly believe that this is only the beginning. Next year, we will start to see how companies will re-shape their businesses according to the traveller’s needs. 2015 will be the year of the traveller.
Amadeus’ Shaping the Future of Travel: Macro trends driving industry growth over the next decade