Digitalisation and innovation are key for SMEs survival as the travel industry emerges from Covid-19’s impact according to a report by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), revealed at the World Travel Market.
PATA’s research report “The role of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) in supporting Asia-Pacific SMEs in Recovery” aims to provide insights to benefit SMEs in the hospitality and tourism space that make up a large proportion of travel providers, as they pivot and adapt in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The pandemic is changing the way consumers think. Digital is now the way to go and travellers are also rethinking the way they decide on their preferred mode of transportation. With the travel industry being essential for the hospitality business, especially SMEs within the sector, these businesses need to adapt to the new digital expectation of consumers within the post-pandemic ecosystem.
PATA’s report highlights key areas where digital travel platforms and governments can support tourism SMEs in the Asia Pacific region:
SMEs are leveraging OTAs’ digital platforms to accelerate recovery
There is a shift in the dynamic of the relationship between SMEs and OTAs, with the latter being acknowledged and increasingly valued as a technology, data and marketing partner. It is vital for SME hospitality providers to understand trends and reach new audiences during these times. SMEs leveraging OTAs can reduce their top-down investment especially around payments features, customer support as well as marketing efforts. OTAs have also expanded opportunities for destination diversification, helping to drive tourism in second and third tier cities.
The use of data insights will future proof SMEs
OTAs are technology partners that are well placed to help provide SMEs a comprehensive understanding of data insights to enhance their businesses. Data insights can be used to optimise revenue through meta-search, machine learning, artificial intelligence. product diversification and platform centralisation.
SMEs call on governments to work with OTAs to boost post-COVID travel
During this crucial recovery period, more private-public collaboration will boost travel confidence, where the local government can draw on the private sector’s commercial expertise to spot and create new opportunities to improve the industry, businesses and lives impacted by COVID, as well as stay relevant in the transforming economic environment.