It almost feels like a new spring season after the long period of downturn due to the pandemic. The world is now reopening and there is a lot of optimism in the APAC region regarding the recovery of the tourism industry. For most of the APAC countries, travel is a key component of GDP, and the resumption of services will directly improve income generation for start-ups in the sector. Travel start-ups are at the forefront of helping travel bounce back because they see it as an opportunity rather than a challenge. Some of today’s best fintech companies emerged during the great economic downturn of 2008, so we are seeing revolutionary travel start-ups emerge.
When it comes to travel, demand never declined, but only supply was suspended after the pandemic, causing the market to contract. People are eager to get out and at least walk short distances in their respective regions, states or countries.
Indeed, with changing demands, customers are constantly on the lookout for new destinations, adventures and personalized and unique experiences. Growing investor interest in travel start-ups is another indication that the travel industry is on the way back to normalcy. To survive and thrive in this new normal, travel start-ups in the region are also working on an overhaul of their productivity and customer experience.
The pandemic has led to downsizing for most companies in the travel industry, and now the focus is on building a sustainable business that is lean, but has all the capabilities to be successful in the short term. like long term. As travel has mostly gone digital, there has been a greater preference for retaining or expanding technology teams as marketing, administration, and other such departments have been reduced. Now the idea is to make more use of technology with limited and strongly aligned teams to achieve goals quickly.
A major strategic change that APAC travel start-ups have made is realigning their product offerings in line with the pandemic. Many large travel agencies are adding automated chatbots to distribute up-to-date information on topics of interest to tourists. For example, travel advisories from authorities, visa rules, movement restrictions, information about attractions that are open or about to reopen, and even the integration of health advisories on platforms have become a new standard. Using state-of-the-art technology for contactless check-ins, disinfection, 24-hour travel assistance, easy cancellations and reschedules, etc. These are just a few of the added values provided by travel start-ups.
No matter which country we are looking at, tour operators are now well acquainted with the fact that a collaborative and less capital intensive approach is the need of the moment. This is particularly suitable for SMEs and traditionally offline travel agents, as they generally do not have the financial capacity to build a stand-alone infrastructure. This is where B2B marketplaces and mergers between different service providers multiply.
Platforms that offer online support for branding and lead generation, as well as cutting edge websites with fully functional payment integrations, chatbots and direct booking engines, etc. will play a key role in the development and collaborations of the ecosystem. There is no doubt that travel agents and start-ups are essential in delivering a personalized travel experience that people will seek in the new normal. Like any other industry, digitalization has given the travel industry a huge boost since the pandemic. Start-ups adopting a more inclusive approach and democratizing access to technology will become the big winners.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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