As the European travel market matures, there is no doubt that the new frontier for Europe’s leading travel brands resides in Asia which, in 2016, became the world’s largest travel market by region with total gross bookings of US$406b, according to Phocuswright’s Asia Pacific Online Travel Overview Eighth Edition.
The more interesting part of the Asia growth story is in the digital space which has grown from $28b in online travel gross bookings in 2002 to $137b in 2016.
“There’s plenty of headroom for growth with online penetration still increasing across Asia and the even bigger story is that of mobile, the game changer in the region,” said Yeoh Siew Hoon, founder and managing director of WIT- Web In Travel, the leading platform for news and events around Asia Pacific’s online travel industry.
“This is why WIT is bringing Asia to Europe this June 30. We feel the time is absolutely right for European travel brands to truly get Asia while markets are at a time of transition – from traditional to digital, from group travel to independent, from emerging to emerged.
“Asia’s no longer just aspiring, it’s inspiring in the way its travel industry has evolved. It used to be that what happened in the US would unfold in Europe and then Asia, but now with social, economic and political maturity, as well as a hunger for technological innovation, Asia’s coming up with stories of its own and leading the way in many cases.
“We want to bring these stories to Europe and we also want to learn from European travel brands which have expanded into Asia – WIT has always been about building bridges and the first WIT Europe in London is about building an online travel bridge between Asia and Europe.”
London-based Momondo Group, which powers the global metasearch Cheapflights and Momondo brands, has signed on to be launch partner. CEO Hugo Burge said, “Web in Travel long ago established itself as one of the premier global forums for exchanging ideas, getting the insight on innovation and for hearing from some of the sharpest minds in the online travel sector.
“Having built a reputation as the primary travel conference for Asia, it’s absolutely right it should now come to Europe to be a part of the fast-moving community here – and as the London-based metasearch business, when we learnt the conference was coming here, we had to be involved.
“This is a great opportunity for Momondo Group, at a point of rapid expansion ourselves, to be involved from an early stage in what we’re sure will become a must-attend fixture on the digital travel conference calendar.”
Dublin-based CarTrawler is sponsoring the event. Said CTO Bobby Healy,
“WIT is the undisputed authority on everything exciting coming from Asia’s travel–tech industry. Now, WIT Europe will act as a bridge connecting European travel innovators to this economic superpower. The vastness of this region is only matched by the size of the potential opportunity that it presents to companies like CarTrawler. We know that our success to date in Asia is dwarfed by the size of the opportunity still remaining. WIT shines a spotlight on our business in Asia and provides us with a stage to engage with new and exciting ventures in the region.”
Duncan Horton, CEO, Travel Weekly Group, which is media partner, said, “We look forward to working with Siew Hoon and WIT to help promote this inaugural event in London. Lots of UK and European businesses are interested in expanding into Asia and we are expanding our own activities into this continent so it is a good fit.”
For many Europe-based travel brands, the region is already leading their growth. AccorHotels is about to reach its 700th hotel in APAC and opens a hotel every week in the region. Given the maturity of the market in Pacific, the majority of new development is taking place in Asia.
“Globally Accor Hotels has 520,000 hotel rooms in 92 countries and opens two hotels every three days. In Asia, we currently have close to 26% of group hotel rooms and are opening one hotel every week. Our opening hotel pace and pipeline constitutes close to 50% of group development so this will give you an indication of how important APAC is to our worldwide growth.” said Louise Daley, executive vice president and CFO, AccorHotels Asia Pacific, who will be speaking at the event.
Booking.com has also made huge investments in the region and runs an increasingly substantial business out of its Singapore headquarters. Adrian Currie, who was instrumental in leading the expansion of the group in Asia Pacific, and now Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, Priceline Group, will also be speaking at WIT Europe.
WIT Europe’s presenting partner is the Singapore Tourism Board. Said Tan Yen Nee, Regional Director Europe, STB, said, “South East Asia – and Singapore in particular – continues to represent a huge potential growth market for western tourism. In tandem, the dynamic digital sector in Singapore means technology will continue to play an integral part in engendering and stimulating this growth even further. As a technologicaly forward-thinking country within the region, and as a springboard to Asia, STB is delighted to be a presenting partner for the first WIT in Europe to bring key insights that we hope would inspire the travel ecosystem here to plug into the latest trends in travel technology and innovation across Asia.”
WIT Europe will be held at the Starr Cimena Auditorium at Tate Modern. Post-event cocktails, hosted by Momondo Group, will be held at the De Monfort Suite at Town Hall Apartments & Hotel from 6.30pm, part of Singapore-based Unlisted Collection portfolio of hotels.
To learn more, visit www.webintravel.com/events/
Event social media:@webintravel #witeurope