Travel Technology Adoption and Innovation Drive the Traveller Experience
Asia Pacific travel solutions and services leader Abacus International kicked off its Abacus International Conference 2012 to share latest industry trends and Abacus solutions.
“Abacus International Conference 2012 is focused on helping our agents to discover and use new technology and solutions to transform the way they do business in delivering a positively differentiated end traveller experience,” said Mr Robert Bailey, President and CEO of Abacus International at the biennial conference held in Seoul, South Korea.
This year’s theme, Transform●Experience●Discover, celebrates the exceptional transformation in technology that is quickly remodelling the travel marketplace. Constant change is the norm, and today’s empowered, connected travellers are engaging with information and companies in new ways. Abacus challenges travel companies to leverage these new technologies throughout the traveller journey to driver greater interaction with travellers and ultimately, higher sales.
“In all the stages of travel – from pre-trip planning to booking, experiencing and sharing, every touch point plays a significant factor in the traveller journey. Travel companies need to continually be listening to them in order to not just sell a product or make a booking, but to deliver an overall positive experience,” Mr Bailey continued. “The mindset of today’s traveller is all about making their travel experience simpler, faster and more convenient.”
This is even more important in Asia Pacific, the fastest growing travel region globally. By 2025, one third of the world’s airline traffic is expected to originate from this region, and despite a deepening European crisis and a weaker US economy, the Asia growth momentum continues – albeit at a slower pace than previous years, but still significant enough to demonstrate a large potential for the travel industry in its shift towards a “more sustainable long-run growth path.”
Asia Pacific will represent 43 per cent of the world’s GDP by 2020, larger than the United States and European Union combined. Currently home to the world’s second- and third-largest economies, the region is fertile ground for travel growth, but this continuing rapid expansion translates to a strong increase in Asia Pacific travel, a dynamic aviation market, a rise in corporate business travel and higher hotel occupancy rates.
“Global economic power is continuing its shift to the East, and this calls for quick adaptation to changing market requirements through innovative technologies and solutions. With the right knowledge, support and tools, our customers and partners throughout Asia Pacific can look to achieve better value for travellers and be more attuned to evolving trends,” added Mr Bailey.
Transform & Experience: Embracing Travel 3.0
Extraordinary growth in recent years has coincided with equally extraordinary changes in the world of information technology; changes that have enabled the travel industry to handle the one billion international and three billion total travellers globally.
As traveller behaviour has evolved into a mobile lifestyle, the face of travel has changed. Adapting to a wireless world has led the industry to innovations that cater to the needs of mobile solutions, but also to the convergence of technologies that address travellers’ on-the-go demands. Access to relevant and mobile real-time information and transportability has impacted the evolution of design of new solutions and technologies benefitting today’s traveller.
“Travel is only as effective as the technologies on which they rely,” said Mr Bailey. “We anticipate bigger things on the horizon, especially with the advent of Travel 3.0 – a new wave of innovation based on the always-connected vision offered by consumer mobile technologies. This new path involved taking a zoomed-out view of the business, looking at the entire traveller journey and marrying strategy with technology.”
Asia Pacific has the greatest potential – the region already has the largest mobile subscriber base in the world, and smartphone adoption is expected to see an even greater increase over the next few years. In fact, both Malaysia and Singapore lead the region in smartphone penetration rates at 88 per cent, within a South East Asia region that sold UDS2.4 billion worth of smartphones in just the first three months of 2012. In Australia and Japan, smartphone users (74 per cent and 78 per cent respectively) do not ever leave home without their phone, and in China, more than half of smartphone owners would rather give up their television over their smartphone.
“Having a huge advantage of being 12 to 24 months ahead of the competition in the mobile space, Abacus is the first to help travel companies achieve success through mobile technology to build relationships, increase engagement and drive revenue before, during and after any customer booking,” added Mr Bailey. “With an array of new tools and solutions there has never been a better time to get closer to travellers and gain loyalty.”
This has been evident in the high adoption rates Abacus has seen with its integrated Abacus Mobility Suite. Adopting the latest in mobile web technology, HTML5, this allows everyone with a mobile device to receive optimised information with an app-like experience. The Suite includes solutions such as Abacus Mobile, Abacus VirtuallyThere, Abacus WebStart and Abacus TripPlan.
Abacus Mobile has seen a dramatic rise of active subscribers today since its introduction two years ago, accounting for over 78,000 visits. These numbers continue to rise, with a greater than 50 per cent increase in both the number of active subscribers as well as visits in the first half of 2012. Abacus VirtuallyThere, the industry’s first travel management service for travellers, has more than 40 million unique visitors each year, making it most visited travel portal in the world.
This means faster speed and response by the agent who can provide the traveller with the booking transaction, ticket information, alerts and additional travel information seamlessly from the Abacus Mobile solution to the traveller’s mobile device with Abacus VirtuallyThere installed.
Abacus AutomationHub, newly introduced at the conference, is testament to purposeful innovation through its business process automation to improve operational efficiency for travel companies. This allows for more time spent in other tasks to better address traveller needs.
“We are seeing a changing of the guard with the explosion of technology in Asia Pacific. The adoption of fast and intuitive mobile, online, productivity and other innovative technologies are transforming the travel company offering to not only enable greater revenue for the company, but more importantly addressing the needs of the traveller at every touch point during the travel journey,” stated Mr Bailey.
Discover: Leverage and Differentiate
Sweeping changes in Asia Pacific are reshaping the region’s travel marketplace. Significant advances in infrastructure and technology will continue to impact the traveller appetite for greater service and enhancements. Abacus stresses the need to work together within the travel industry to better understand the traveller and the changes within the region to be better prepared in this transformative and challenging period.
“By bringing together the top industry stakeholders from across the region, AIC 2012 creates a thriving environment whereby innovative industry solutions can be developed to benefit both travel companies and travellers alike,” said Mr Bailey. “Our travel customers and partners are active in collaborating with us so that we can better align our solutions with their changing needs to engage the traveller more swiftly and efficiently.”
The outlook for Asia Pacific travel growth remains strong. But even in a promising environment, it is not all easy going, and there will be growth challenges that call for strong measures in adapting and discovering new ways available to cater to the changing needs of the traveller.
“We are living in the most advanced technological era of all time – technology has enabled us to have constant interaction with our customers as well as each other. The more we strive for what was not possible yesterday – today we can discover with the technology we have on hand,” added Mr Bailey.
 Airbus 2012
 Asian Development Outlook Report 2012
 World Economic Outlook, International Monetary Fund September 2012
 United Nations September 2012
 PhoCusWright’s Asia Pacific Mobile Trends February 2010
 PhoCusWright’s Mobile Hits The Mainstream: Technology and Industry Trends February 2012
 Gfk – Boom times continue as Southeast Asia’s smartphone market value expands, April 2012
 Google Mobile Ads – Mobile Planet smartphone research May 2012