Over the course of the WebinTravel conference in Singapore last week I collected a series of tweets, notes and comments.
These soundbites were mainly about companies and from delegates about trends and market intelligence.
In this first list, I will share with you ten interesting things I heard about companies at WIT.
1. Wotif is working on adding consumer reviews and social media content. Matthew Varley (Wotif’s EGM in Asia) was asked about Wotif’s plans for reviews and user generated content.
He said that reviews are now a hygiene factor for online travel sites. He made it clear that Wotif are planning on launching review functionality when he said “watch this space” in response to being asked when reviews would appear on Wotif.com.
2. DaoDao (TripAdvisor in China) showed (once again) that online travel in China is different to anywhere in the world.
DoaDoa GM Hao Wu told us that to attract more reviews DD have been physically locating paper review forms and comment boxes in hotel lobbies.
Customers fill out the pen and paper review, drop it in the review box, it is collected by DD staff, who type it up and publish the review online.
3.TripAdvisor’s newly arrived MD of Asia, Marc Charron, was not giving much away on the performance of (or his happiness with) their Facebook integration (called TripFriends).
When asked directly on the question of success or not by Tnooz's Kevin May, he said “too early to tell” (also non-committal about TA's flight search). This can be code for “not working as well as we hoped”. For more on TripFriends, see interview with TripAdvisor product VP Adam Medros.
4. Mobilizy (Wikitude) CEO Andy Gstoll told us that the secret to them keeping the content on their wikitude up to date was input from users on the ground. Makes sense, but I am still concerned that inaccuracies in Augmented Reality content could produce frustrating consumer experiences.
5. At the WITovation Bootcamp, Hrush Bhatt of Cleartrip told me that they continue to have their eyes expansion outside India into the Middle East.
They have already launched in Dubai with plans to across the region in Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. He mentioned that the most challenging part in launching is getting the local top level domains.
6. Word on the street is that Kaha Tour and Travel is planning a huge online push with the launch of a new site. If true will be one of the most significant developments in online travel in Indonesia.
7. Chinese online travel company eLong, currently the second biggest in the country, claimed (through CEO Guangfu Cui) to have more hotels live in China than the number one player Ctrip.
He said eLong has 15,000 hotels to Ctrip’s 12,000. eLong’s strategy is clear: push faster and faster online in the hope of claiming a larger online booking percentage and business compared to Ctrip’s offline call centre business.
Guangfu said that online was now a third of eLong’s sales, up from 12%.
8. Kathleen Tan, regional commercial head of AirAsia, is very bullish about the airline’s plans for sales through mobile.
Currently they are planning for mob only deals to drive the percentage of bookings through the mobile web fro the current level of less than 5% of bookings to 15-20% within 18 months.
9. Paul Kerr, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, highlighted the value of a loyalty and retention program for even a small customer base. He said that their program had 95,000 members, 10,000 of which are the most important. #
These 10,000 (a relatively small number) are responsible for a staggering 40% of SLH’s online bookings.
10. WIT conference boss Siew Hoon Yeoh and Abacus VP Brett Henry are convinced that wifi in hotel rooms should be free (like the water and electricity), but Accor Asia-Pacific COO Michael Issenberg does not agree.
While Issenberg admitted that in some markets competitive pressure has resulted in individual Accor hotels providing free wifi, he made it clear that he does not think that wifi in hotel rooms should be free.
NB: In Part Two, I will cover trends.