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Mice Asia Net : January 2009
news expert warns agents to get online President of PhocusWright inc. Philip Wolf says Asia is lagging behind in the online space and must get onboard. P resenting a seminar at ITB Asia in Singapore recently entitled The Global Online Picture, Mr Wolf told delegates that in 2007 50 per cent of all travel-related business in the United States was conducted online. He said Europe was close behind, and Australia was already at 50 per cent, while Asia was presently at 20 per cent. These figures include everything related to travel including airline and hotel bookings. Mr Wolf said the danger for companies who were yet to embrace the online space was that they would be left behind if they didn’t recognise the internet would continue to grow in usage. “We’ve been pushing for over a decade to get more people online and yet there are so many businesses that don’t operate with this knowledge,” he said. He said that while some companies did have a web strategy and web presence there was surprisingly few (only about 50 per cent) that had a transaction-based model. “There’s a lot of searching on websites and then people are going elsewhere to buy.” This, he says is simply because the websites do not have the facility to allow for transactions. He said it was imperative that to move forward companies had to have an online strategy in place. The power of online During the seminar miceAsia.net asked Mr Wolf a question about the power of online entities including www.wotif.com and www. lastminute.com where they have contracts with hotels that does not permit hoteliers to offer better deals than what is available on these websites. He responded by saying that the travel industry had a lack of [hotel] rate integrity well before the internet came along. “Transparency is a great thing and the internet has helped with that,” he said. He went on to say that through the internet individual travellers and corporate clients knew what the best deal was for a hotel room, and therefore agents had to be upfront about what it was they could offer, and for how much. In a later seminar on airlines, presenter Gerry Oh, the regional vice president – SE Asia and Australia of Jet Airways (India), said while many airline websites allowed for internet transactions they could not, at present, undertake dynamic packaging where consumers could not only book airline tickets but hotels, car hire, tours, etc. “But they will be able to do so in the future,” he said. “Corporate travel requires specialist handling – but only at the moment.” miceAsia.net 13