Keen to get the local trade on board the digital transformation wave, the newly launched Digital Travel Technology Association of Malaysia (DiTTAM) organised its first-ever 3D virtual travel consumer fair over the weekend.
The Virtual Tourism Expo (VTE) 2021 saw the participation of 120 domestic exhibitors and 40,000 visitors, with some RM2 million (US$480,000) in sales projected for the three-day event, according to DiTTAM president, Rohizam Md Yusof.
Travel agencies and hotels made up the bulk of exhibitors across the 12 virtual halls, offering attractive travel products and packages, Rohizam added. The rest comprised booths representing theme parks, tourism products, golf courses and federal and state tourism agencies and travel associations supporting the fair.
Industry leaders Tourism Malaysia's Zuklify (left) and MDEC’s Fadzli (right) urge the travel sector to catch up with digitalisation or risk being left behind.
And for an industry that has yet to fully embrace digitalisation, Rohizam opined that VTE would also help businesses get comfortable with and learn to use the new technologies involved.
“We’re using gaming technology to curate an experience for both exhibitors and visitors. All exhibitors have to do is to learn to upload images, videos and materials themselves, so even the smaller operators have the capability to do this.
Through participation at VTE, many travel agencies also had their introduction to payment gateways for the first time with the assistance of DiTTAM.
Rohizam shared that exhibitors had to pay a fee of RM2,500 per booth, which helped DiTTAM to recoup part of the RM300,000 cost of setting up the expo, while the association also had promotion and marketing help from Tourism Malaysia.
The need for the tourism industry to adapt and embrace digitalisation or risk being left behind when borders reopen was underscored by Zulkifly Md Said, Tourism Malaysia director-general, during the virtual launching ceremony of VTE on August 26.
During the virtual event slash webinar, which looked at the digitalisation challenges facing Malaysia, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) industry chief strategy officer Fadzli Abdul Wahit remarked that Malaysia ranked 37th in the rank of Ease of Doing Digital Business, a decline compared with its 15th spot in 2019.
He cited how some companies such as Traveloka have come up with new ways of providing tourism services, while AirAsia has just rolled out a new ride hailing service as well as the food and package delivery options to its flights.