The past 18 months since the pandemic have been a busy time for one segment of the travel sector: reservation technology (restech).
Post Covid, we don't even know which market will return first and so it's best to place your distribution bets everywhere now.
Not only did the Covid-19 pandemic provide the tipping point towards digitalisation for many of Asia Pacific's travel businesses, many restech providers have been rolling out a wider suite of solutions as many tours and activities operators pivot their offerings towards the domestic market.
Speaking during Arival's recent virtual APAC Tech & Distribution Forum, Blanca Menchaca, co-founder & CEO of BeMyGuest, has observed an "acceleration in the adoption of technology" among Asia's tour operators through the pandemic.
Across the region, she noted that tour operators can be largely differentiated into three groups.
"There are operators with hardly any technology adoption at all, relying largely on website forms or phone bookings; then there are the more mature ones with some tech adoption but their booking tech is usually catered for another sector, usually retail or F&B," she said.
"Lastly is the group of tech-savvy operators with bigger brands or budgets, and they are looking for consolidation and ease of connectivity between their database, e-commerce sales, distribution, ticket counters."
Tours and activities OTAs, meanwhile, are also stepping up their restech game. Taiwan-based KKday, which recently raised US$75 million in its Series C funding, has piloted a one-stop booking management platform, Rezio, for travel operators and activity providers.
"There was no tailored SaaS (Software as a service) solutions for instant booking capability," said Victor Tseng, CFO of KKday, explaining Rezio's launch. "How domestic users look for unique experiences are different from international travellers...We've been getting a lot of interest from operators. We have over 20,000 products on Rezio now."
As more OTAs roll out SaaS solutions for tour operators, Rezdy CEO Chris Atkin also cautions operators from being too reliant on distributing through any one platform. "You will be very exposed to the successes or failures or changes in policies of these OTAs."
Investing in technology is hence one way tour operators in Asia can hedge against risks on the business recovery path, said GlobalTix's CEO Chee Chong Chan.
"Asia's market is really huge, but pre Covid many depended on one singular market like China or India. Post Covid, we don't even know which market will return first and so it's best to place your distribution bets everywhere now."