(EN) Mobility


(EN) Mobility


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How many of you are reading this trend report on your mobile device right now? It’s undeniable that mobile devices are leapfrogging desktops in usage, and nowhere is this more evident than in Asia.

Let’s start with the biggest kid on the block – China. The country topped the world rankings in tourism volume in 2017, making a record 4.53 billion domestic and overseas trips. Given its market weight, the mobile usage habits of Chinese consumers is something that no brand in the travel industry can afford to ignore. This mobile-first mindset will be further ingrained given a recent government announcement to develop and trial an electronic social security card system on WeChat.

Many in the hospitality and travel industry have gotten started. Major hotel brands such as Marriott International have dedicated WeChat accounts that not only function as a social channel for inspiration, but take on the practical aspect of a concierge service using chatbots and AI to instantly translate guest inquiries.

According to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, about 30 percent of its Chinese consumers are already using an option to pay for flights via WeChat Pay (a feature added in August 2017).

Closely tied to mobility is the use of social media. Social media influencers such as travel Instagrammers and YouTube stars are fuelling the travel bug in millennials and Z-lennials around the world. These travellers are looking for truly local experiences which means that the travel industry must create mobile platforms that provide uniquely local content to capture and hold their attention.

Mobile technologies can also augment the experiences of travellers once they arrive at their destinations or hotels. Marriott International offers app based check-in services to members of its Marriott and Starwood Hotels reward programmes.

The Mandarin Oriental offers an app that guests can synchronise with digital guidebooks of the region the hotel is situated in.

Hospitality and travel brands must transform themselves to serve the new mobile on-the-go generation of travellers. This means investing in online payment platforms, communication, m-commerce, and marketing.

The staggering growth of the number of Chinese travellers also means it’s absolutely critical that brands invest in understanding and meeting the consumption preferences of this group. In order to reach travellers on their platform of choice, brands need to think about not just global social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but also regional or local ones like WeChat, Weibo and Line.

Another interesting trend is the parallel and contrasting desire for tech-free experiences. For example, Apple’s new iOS will have reminders to look away from the phone and Instagram is reportedly working on a function to show how long you’ve spent mindlessly scrolling. Tech-free spa treatments, such as those offered by the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, are perhaps a testament to the fact that as great and useful connectivity is, untethered moments of reflection are just as important to a traveller’s experience.

This is an excerpt from CatchOn’s latest Tech & Travel report, in collaboration with Ying Communications, “What The Tech?”. As Asia’s leading hospitality public relations agency, specializing in brand strategy consulting, we offer exclusive insights on hospitality and travel. To find out more, contact us at insights@catchonco.com.

Virginia Ngai

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