It’s been a momentous time for online travel and on the cusp of a new decade, the WiT Singapore 2019 conference – being held Oct 14-16 – will take a bird’s eye view of the industry and project into the future of what travel could look like in 2020 and beyond.
And it’s a promising future, according to the newly-released “e-Conomy SEA 2019” report by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company. South-east Asia’s Internet economy is expected to treble to $300B by 2025 and online travel is expected to ride on the coat tails of that growth.
Online travel (covering vacation rentals, flight and hotel booking services) was the second largest sector, valued at $34B, following the US$38B e-commerce industry – online retail, digital marketplaces, online groceries. Two other sectors were identified in the report – the US$12.7b ride-hailing industry – transportation, ride-sharing platforms and food delivery services, and the US$14.2b online media industry – subscription video and music streaming services, online gaming and advertising.
Online travel is at an interesting intersection,” said Yeoh Siew Hoon, founder, WiT. “Technology has blurred the lines between industry verticals and we now see ride-hailing getting into travel, food delivery getting into travel, marketplaces getting into travel, messaging getting into travel, fintech getting into travel.
“Everyone wants a piece of the $1.3 trillion travel industry (Phocuswright) and it seems that as we see out this decade, the biggest question to ask is, ‘how will consumers buy travel in the future?’ because whatever happens, or whatever new technology comes along, we cannot lose sight of the most important person in this whole plot of ever-changing industry trends – the customer.”
WiT Singapore 2019 will kick off with its Innovation Stage on October 14, which will put the spotlight on a fresh crop of startups through its annual competition and unearth new opportunities in markets such as Myanmar and Mekong, Africa, the Chinese youth market and the Middle East, as well as verticals such as corporate travel, fintech and tours and activities.
The WiT Main Stage (Oct 15-16) will look under the covers of the industry and examine what established online travel brands such as Expedia, Agoda, Booking.com and TripAdvisor are doing as they face competition in Asian markets from younger brands, like Trip.com and Traveloka, as well as the rise of superapps within China and beyond.
Payments will be a hot topic as fintech converges with travel, and fraud protection and prevention are also on the table as travel ecommerce grows – how can travel merchants increase conversions with confidence without compromising the user experience?
And as travel moves towards experiences, WiT will look at a future that goes beyond the hotel room, airline seat, cruise cabin, or tour bus seat to examine how accommodation and transport providers are adapting their business models to provide services customers of the future are after.
OTAs and their relationship with hotels are also expected to attract interest. Recent news around the Marriott-Expedia partnership and what it implies with regards to rate parity and the leakage of wholesale rates will be brought to the forefront of discussions, as hoteliers wrestle for loyalty and direct distribution in a changing marketplace.
WiT Singapore 2019, in its 15th year, will field more than 130 speakers who will blend global expertise and oversight with local and regional insights in WiT signature style. It is expected to attract about 500 delegates.
Check out the programme.
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WiT Singapore is Asia’s leading online travel conference focused on travel technology, distribution and marketing. The event will be held on 14-16 October 2019 and the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre.
WiT has won awards including Most Innovative Marketing Initiative and Trade Conference Of The Year and in 2014, its founder Yeoh Siew Hoon was recognised as Tourism Entrepreneur of The Year in Singapore.
Every year, WiT sees over 500 travel industry delegates in attendance from leading companies such as: Expedia, Ctrip, Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Grab, Paytm, Amadeus, Travelport, and many more.
Over the past 14 years, WIT Conferences have been organised and held in multiple cities around the world, including: Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Amsterdam, Sydney, Bali, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Dubai & Taipei.