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Reimagining travel the journey beyond 2020 by Trip.com

Author: Theodore Koumelis / Date: Fri, 01/08/2021 - 08:31
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"COVID-19 is changing and informing global trends. We must adopt a local focus and global vision to meet evolving customer demands and continue to support our partners", said James Liang, Chairman and Co-founder Trip.com Group

A sign of times to come, Asia-Pacific’ s limited travel recovery can be seen as eluding to trends that emerged over the last decade. All crises accelerate existing trends. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), by 2030, Asia is expected to
contribute roughly 60% of global growth and that Asia-Pacific will be home to the overwhelming majority (90%) of the 2.4 billion new members of the middle class entering the global economy.

Whether these predictions will weather the pandemic unscathed is yet to be seen, but there is no doubt that the rise of the Asian consumer will be a determining factor in the future of the global economy.

Jane Sun, CEO of Trip.com Group says, "Customers first. Partners second. Ourselves third. This mantra guided Trip.com Group through 2020. When the pandemic broke, the world braced for uncertainty, and travel ground to a halt. At Trip.com Group, we set out to be customer-focused and support our partners, processing tens of millions of refunds and booking alterations. We adopted glocalization at all levels, supporting the global industry whilst further localizing our services to meet market-specific needs. Weathering the storm together, international bodies and industry peers united to assure travel safety. With no immediate end in sight to national and regional lockdowns confining people to their homes, an itch for travel began to build. Hope glistened on the horizon as countries began to control the spread of the virus.

China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore saw a resumption of somewhat normality. Those free to travel domestically could now satisfy their desire to escape their homes. China saw a dramatic near-complete recovery of domestic tourism. During the October Golden Week holidays our data showed short-haul hotel bookings increase by almost 60% year-on-year, and post-1990s and 2000s travelers making up over 60% of tourists. Industry figures reveal over 637 million trips were taken in this holiday, setting records for the highest number of passengers since the outbreak. This meteoric rebound broadcasted the strength and vitality of the Chinese market, setting the stage for the global recovery. As countries around the globe began to get in control of the virus, public-private partnerships launched campaigns promoting domestic travel. The SingapoRediscover campaign offered nationwide discounts to attractions, hotels and transport to all Singaporean citizens. In November, Trip.com Group and Singapore Tourism Board signed a three-year agreement forging a global partnership to co-market the ‘Garden City’ – a much needed boost of confidence during this time of uncertainty.

A sign of times to come, Asia-Pacific’ s limited travel recovery can be seen as eluding to trends that emerged over the last decade. All crises accelerate existing trends. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), by 2030, Asia is expected to contribute roughly 60% of global growth and that Asia-Pacific will be home to the overwhelming majority (90%) of the 2.4 billion new members of the middle class entering the global economy.

Whether these predictions will weather the pandemic unscathed is yet to be seen, but there is no doubt that the rise of the Asian consumer will be a determining factor in the future of the global economy.

Before the pandemic, there was an increasing preference for travel to Asia-Pacific, with travelers choosing Japan, Thailand and Singapore rather than the United States, Italy and France. These global destinations will always top travel bucket lists. Yet, Asia-Pacific is home to thousands of attractive destinations. The rise of the Asian middle class will result in roughly 90 million new travelers by 2025. It is clear that the region-centric approach brought on by the pandemic and the evolution of the travel recovery will see regional tourism in Asia-Pacific continue to rise.

As the world has been altered by the global pandemic, the silver lining on this dark cloud is that our infrastructure has also been refined and transformed. Extensive mobile penetration and savvy digital users have shortened the path from consumer to their chosen products and services.

The new consumer landscape has yielded new expectations and a bi-polarization of consumption where goods and services must remain customer-centric.

For Trip.com Group, we witnessed great positive affirmations from our globetrotters in the purchase of our flexible and discounted products through this year’s livestream series. COVID-19 pushed us to evolve into a stronger and smarter platform with focuses on boosting user experience through maintaining our glocalization, being content-focused, maximizing exposure of products and services whilst meeting the demand for top quality. 10% of the global working population are directly involved in the travel industry thus, we need a travel revival to give hope to the hundreds of millions of people who depend on this sector. We need to consistently invest in the travel ecosystem to boost confidence and offer mobility and exchange even through this uncertain and disruptive storm.

2021 – 21 being the number associated with luck and taking chances, it makes sense for us to tackle this ongoing uncertainty with an attitude that is not all doom and gloom but one that is open and optimistic. With hopes of a widespread vaccine rollout and innovative travel solutions such as air bubbles and gradual border openings, this crisis presents opportunities for our industry. We must venture into 2021 unified and energized, ushering in the future of travel."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theodore Koumelis

Co-Founder & Managing Director

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