Digital Trends Every Travel Retailer Should Track/ TFWA Asia Pacific

This article is a reprint of Stephenie Rodriguez's article on Digital Trends as it appeared in The Moodie Report EZine
This article is a reprint of Stephenie Rodriguez's article on Digital Trends as it appeared in The Moodie Report EZine

I was recently asked to write an article for The Moodie Report E-Zine on the eve of the TFWA Asia Pacific Conference held in Singapore where I was honored to give a presentation to Duty Free brands and companies on emerging trends in digital, mobile and social.

Mobile is the first screen Mobile technology and mobile user behaviour are at the centre of the current digital ecosystem, encompassing search, web and social activities. Over 844 million smart phone users live in Asia – a penetration of 22% and rising, according to market research company eMarketer and the US Census Bureau.

Asian smart phone users are also highly social, with 61% of their total usage spent on social media sites; the WeChat instant messenger application developed by Tencent in China, for example, boasts 200 million users. And with 60% of all Asian social networkers using social media to discuss their purchasing decisions, retailers need to adapt their customer engagement strategies to take advantage of this trend. The Chinese Connected consumer was a hot topic at TFWA in Singapore travel retailers have to design campaigns that put mobile at the heart of the activation.

The rise of the mobile wallet Connected consumers are streamlining their journeys. They will buy from merchants which integrate convenience into the user experience and give their customers more control over payment options. A Nielsen study in March 2012 found that 43% of Asian smart phone consumers are prepared to use their phones to make purchases, and forward-thinking operators are now integrating purchasing applications like Treatdrop to connect mobile wallets to airport concession POS systems.

Another emerging travel-related platform is iVenture Card International, which enables consumers to purchase tickets to tourist attractions on their mobile devices with mobile wallets. It also integrates loyalty programmes, delivering benefits in both value and ease of purchase. “Mobile technology is already providing the conduit for customers to discover places of interest, but mobile payment provides consumers the ability to further act on this interest by providing the platform to incentivise their immediate desires,” explains iVenture Card Managing Director Ryan Rieveley.

The goldmine of social data With billions of conversations across social networks – as well as photo shares, video views, check-ins, tweets and texts – travel marketers have access to enormous volumes of mineable data. Travel retailers, airports and brands can now become active listeners to determine the effectiveness of their traditional advertising, monitor sentiment, identify segmentation opportunities and deliver offers. “We’re listening to online conversations about our competitors and leveraging stated intent to tell us who to talk to, where they are in the buying cycle and what their pain points are,” explains Educational Tours Abroad Managing Director Yekta Gokyildirim. “From this data we focus on developing products and solutions that are laser targeted to the right customer at the right time.”

The challenge now facing travel retail is to leverage analytical data, mobile payment gateways and observed online social behaviour to offer convenience, optimise marketing and foster innovation. The E-Perfect Sessions at TFWA delivered some brilliant thought leadership on what the future of travel retail looks like but for this market, it is the first foray. What do you think is making creating a ripple?