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Digital Innovation Asia announces winners for the 2nd DIA Awards

Following the E-Tourism Asia Boot Camp, Digital Innovation Asia presented the winners of the 2nd DIA Awards, recognizing the most innovative, creative, and performance-driven e-tourism initiatives in Asia.

BANGKOK,Thailand – After the DIA E-Tourism Asia Boot Camp in Bangkok, Thailand, Digital Innovation Asia announced the winners and runner ups in each of the five categories, as well as presented the Top 5 Digital Innovators.
Both the DIA E-Tourism Asia Boot-Camp, as well as the DIA Awards was free to attend for registered attendees, due to the generous sponsorship by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), and Digital Innovation Asia (DIA), as well as the support of many partners from travel trade media and the tourism industry.


E-Tourism Asia Boot Camp
Staged in the unique Mansion RCA venue, the E-Tourism Asia Boot Camp engaged the audience from the hotels, tourist boards, start-ups, tour operators, and bloggers with multi-media and action-oriented content from organizations. 
Kicked off by outgoing CEO of Easy Taxi Thailand, Felipe Kasinsky, who presented a personal perspective of “lessons learned as a serial entrepreneur”, Rani Francois-Marie Saad, VP of travel tech firm Abacus presented on the importance of mobile in the tourism industry, and Michael Chin, VP Asia of ReviewPro highlighted critical steps in managing reputation online.
Sarita Chintakanond, Director of Information Technology of the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau presented successful digital case studies to market the MICE industries via social media and bloggers. Hraben Suknaic, CEO of Star Digital Europe and former head of Google Travel in South Eastern Europe made a case to reach affluent and online savvy European travelers via digital versus just via tour operators. Arguing that in a fragmented Europe with 750 million people in 50 countries, affluent European that want to experience Asia in an authentic way use social media and digital marketing to plan their trip.

A panel looking at the power of loyalty featured views from Michael Nurbatlian, Social Media Manager of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok and Eric Hallin, GM of the Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok, as well as a perspective from the airline industry in contrast debated by Bruce Sweigert from Amadeus. Alex Rayner of engaged the real practioners of online marketing at the operations level in a debate what works, what doesn’t, and what the opportunities and challenges are, when it comes to leveraging digital.


Olivier Dombey, Managing Director of Digital Innovation Asia commented when asked about the unique recipe of DIA boot-camps: “It’s about unique venues that let people forget the day-to-day and immerse themselves in interactive discussions and debates, as well as action-oriented content that people can take back to the office and use for their day-to-day business. With a mandate to help develop digital capacity in emerging destinations across Asia, DIA is working with national and regional tourism destinations to bring the E-Tourism Asia Boot Camp to other countries in Asia.
Following the Blogger Matchup Forum in June, where DIA brought over 20 bloggers to Thailand to connect with the travel industry in Thailand to tell the story about Thailand being a safe destination even during the political situation, the overall theme of the E-Tourism Asia Boot Camp focused on story-telling. Featuring some of the best destination films produced by travelers, the event finished with an interactive panel moderated by DIA Founder and Executive Director of Mekong Tourism (MTCO) Jens Thraenhart, debating how story-telling can inspire travelers. Yingrekha Langulasena, Director of Digital Marketing for South East Asia for Starwood Hotels & Resorts explained some of the reasons why social media channels and content creation from guests is so critical in their Starwood’s overall marketing mix, regardless of the diversity of its brands.
Simon Philipp, CEO of Expique, a new and boutique provider of unique tours in Bangkok, explained how he has successfully leveraged bloggers to gain new customers. Sonam Dorje, CEO of the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO), remarked that for a country like Bhutan that is mystical in nature, story-telling is part of its culture for many generations; having the few tourists, compared to destinations like Thailand, that have the privilege of visiting the Kingdom, share their unique Bhutan experience from their perspective creates a powerful exclusivity and a collection of individual stories that inspires people to want to visit.


2nd DIA Awards
Following the E-Tourism Asia Boot Camp, Digital Innovation Asia presented the winners of the 2nd DIA Awards, recognizing the most innovative, creative, and performance-driven e-tourism initiatives in Asia. These awards were created in recognition of the growth and marketing power of Social Media and Mobile, adding a unique spin to the Awards competition as a whole.
In addition to showcasing great mobile apps, campaigns, and innovations, as well as social media efforts in China, DIA also awards bloggers for great story-telling with the Blogger Matchup Award. The Digital Aid Award recognizes the most socially responsible digital initiative in an effort to drive sustainable tourism practices by leveraging digital, social, and mobile. For the first time this year, the Top 5 Digital Innovators in Asia were honored as well, recognizing the passion and dedication to push innovation by individuals. Judged by experts in travel technology, digital, media, and online startups from all over the world, many outstanding nominations were received, which are a testament of the digital innovation that we are experiencing across Asia Pacific.


Last year’s DIA Awards winners included the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Tourism Malaysia, Air New Zealand, e-Visa Cambodia (joint project by CINET Technologies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Cambodia). According to Jens Thraenhart, Founder and Chairman of Digital Innovation Asia, “The DIA Awards are an important component of the mandate of Digital Innovation Asia to help build digital capacity in the Asia Pacific region to showcase innovation in order to inspire others.
This award recognizes online travel ventures that have leveraged technology in innovative ways in order to develop tourism, enhance the travel experience, improve guest services, and drive consumer engagement.

This award recognizes the most viral campaign, most engaging website, most innovative mobile application, or most creative use of social media, promoting Asia Pacific as a tourism destination.

This award recognizes the most relevant mandarin-language website, most creative use of Mainland China social media, or most impactful campaign, marketing to Chinese consumers.

This award recognizes the most impactful and creative campaign, venture, or initiative in promoting and stimulating responsible and sustainable tourism development in Asia Pacific, as well as social and community-based tourism practices, and engaging consumers in being more conscious travelers.

This award recognizes the most riveting digitally published storytelling piece, from blog post, video, photo, review, and audio, discovering new and exciting destinations in Asia Pacific.

The Top 5 Digital Innovator Award recognizes outstanding individuals that have showed innovation, creativity, leadership, and commercial impact, as well as achievements in challenging situations. The Top 5 Digital Innovators are our annual hot list of leaders that have truly raised the bar for the travel and tourism industry in Asia Pacific when it comes to digital innovation.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.