There’s no doubt that the travel industry is undergoing a revolution. Technology, marketing, user experience and digital advances are transforming an industry that is adapting to customers’ changing attitudes.
And Asia is central to this revolution. In fact, there are many reasons to think that Southeast Asia will form the centre of the travel industry by 2020. Here’s why:
Rapidly expanding inbound markets
When you look at the figures for inbound tourism to the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries it’s clear to see how fast the market is expanding. This includes Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Brunei.
Back in 2009, around 65 million tourists visited the ASEAN region. By 2013, this had leapt to just under 100 million people. It’s growing every year, with figures from more recently showing that Thailand welcomed more than 27 million tourists in a single year. This is despite various political upheavals and unfavourable media attention. Both Vietnam and Cambodia’s tourist numbers have more than doubled over the last five years also.
There is no other region in the world that is consistently seeing such increases year-on-year, which makes ASEAN a vital travel marketplace and the ideal region for testing out new ideas, such as Concierge.io.
Rapidly expanding outbound markets
As well as the people coming to ASEAN as tourists, people from the region are increasingly travelling themselves. Outbound travel from this region is rapidly expanding, thanks to a combination of a fast-expanding middle class with more disposable income, a youthful population and the proliferation of low-cost airlines.
The increasing affluence of ASEAN, along with a reduced cost in travel and online booking systems, has culminated in the first generation of South East Asians who travel regularly. Between 2009 and 2013, tourist numbers from ASEAN increased from 31 to 43 million. In 2013, more than 6 million people from Thailand travelled overseas, along with 2.5 million Vietnamese. Since then the numbers have only increased, with Vietnamese people one of the fastest growing outbound travel markets in the world.
Impressive mobile penetration
Everyone knows by now that the future of travel is mobile, with more and more people using this platform to book their holidays and travel experiences. In fact, it’s a platform that’s growing faster than any other channel.
In ASEAN, mobile penetration is more than 109%, with around 126% reached in Cambodia. Vietnam is even higher at 145%, and this offers endless opportunities for online platforms, blockchain devs and technologically advanced services.
High level of social media use
The sharing economy and the ability to book online are two major disrupters for the travel industry over the next five years. And both of these are linked to social media. Most hotels, booking platforms and other travel services are embedded within Facebook, Twitter, and many other social media channels.
There are more than 150 million Facebook users in the ASEAN region, with more than 20 million in Vietnam alone. This, along with an uptake of innovative blockchain technology are at the centre of how we all research, book and share our experiences.
The region is home to a well-educated, youthful and go-getting population. It’s a bastion of entrepreneurial spirit and has been for many years, and so it’s ideal for travel start-ups.
As there are low operating and living costs, it’s understandably an excellent base for start-ups from outside of ASEAN as well. Concierge.io is one of the innovative travel sites that have been springing up in the region, as start-ups work to disrupt and revolutionise the way people book their travel experiences.
I’m excited about the role of Southeast Asia in the travel industry’s future, and it’s why we’ve chosen to start Concierge.co here. There’s a perfect match of increasing tourist numbers and technologically advanced skills. Add in an accepting entrepreneurial attitude and a willingness to try something different, it’s not difficult to see why ASEAN countries are shaping the future of travel.