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In The News | SOTA

News Summary – Malaysian Travel Trends a Sign of Good Economy

News Summary – Malaysian Travel Trends a Sign of Good Economy

Malaysian travel industry experts reveal a bright outlook for the local travel industry players in a latest report.

Here’s a summary of their findings:11.9 million international outbound travel trips from Malaysia were recorded in 2016 (2017 figures  are being prepared) and the number is forecast to grow by an average of 3.5 per cent annually to 14.2 million trips by 2021.

“In 2015, a total of 235.2 million trips were made by Malaysians around the country. This is an increase by eight per cent to 253.9 million trips last year, according to the Domestic Tourism Survey 2016 conducted by the Department of Statistics Malaysia.

 

Matta travel fair, which ran from March 16 and 18, has managed  to net  a total sales value of RM210 million. This is an improvement over the previous September 2017 fair, which recorded RM205 million in sales

Posted
April 3, 2018

What Experts Have to Say About Travel Agents

What Experts Have to Say About Travel Agents

With so many direct -to-customer booking platforms available online, you may wonder if travel agents could viably operate their businesses online.

Yes, according to experts. Travel agents are not only  sought after by first-time traveller to a new destination but also by seasoned travellers.

Here’s what experts have to say about the increasing importance of travel agents in the virtual space:

‘Why do I still like agents? A competent travel agent can be

your greatest asset when you’re planning a trip.  Good travel agents have an edge over almost any other seller of travel.

They know what you want. They speak your language. And

they are there for you when you run into trouble.‘

Christopher Elliot, ombudsman, National Geographic Traveller magazine

“It’s clear that agents can likely save travellers big money and help set a realistic itinerary. Even where they weren’t cheaper, the agents competed with what we could find on our own. And we were impressed where they did save us money, in particular with hotels.”

Jane Hodges, Wall Street Journal

“Travel is one of the most complicated purchases.

Having a travel agent advise you is now more important than ever as fees, surcharges, and other travel restrictions have become more confusing for consumers.”

Henry Harteveldt, Travel Industry Analyst, Forrester Research

It’s tough competing against other online travel booking platforms but SOTA has always kept the faith travel that agents are still needed and valued in the online world and we’ll be constantly assisting you to grow your travel business online.

Posted
March 13, 2018

Tech’s the ticket

Tech’s the ticket

By SUSANNA KHOO

bytz@thestar.com.my

Source

Plan your next holiday every kilometre of the way with the right tools.

SPOILT FOR CHOICE: Holiday-makers have a variety of apps and gadgets that they can use on their travels.SPOILT FOR CHOICE: Holiday-makers have a variety of apps and gadgets that they can use on their travels.

THE culture of travel has changed tremendously. Technology has become an increasingly important part of the travel experience, with the advent of smart devices such as phones and tablets, as well as the ubiquity of the Internet.

Travellers are also finding that technology has a role to play not just during their trips, but even in the planning of their itinerary and post-travel review.

According to statistics from TripBarometer, an accommodation and traveller survey conducted by online travel content provider, TripAdvisor Inc, 93% of Malaysian travellers had used online resources to plan their last trip. Travel operator websites and web-based travel agencies ranked among the top three sources of information when they did such planning.

The survey also reported that many travellers continued to stay connected online even during their travels.

"In some emerging markets, users are bypassing desktops and getting online through mobile devices," says Stephen Kaufer, president and chief executive officer at TripAdvisor.

GOING MOBILE: A lot of travellers are getting online through mobile devices while on the go, says Kaufer.GOING MOBILE: A lot of travellers are getting online through mobile devices while on the go, says Kaufer.

"The top three uses of technology for Malaysians (while travelling) are to use apps to find attractions, to access the Internet and to upload photos to social networks."

Rohizam Md Yusoff, chief executive officer of travel and tourism e-trading platform, SOTA (Smart Online Travel Assistant), uses the term SoLoMo (social, local, mobile) to describe the phenomenon of travellers' ­growing dependence on technology.

The term implies that most travel ­experiences nowadays involve the use of social networks, location based technologies and mobile devices.

Rohizam says SoLoMo makes travellers more knowledgeable.Rohizam says SoLoMo makes travellers more knowledgeable.

"SoLoMo is a major influence for travellers today," he says. "Mobile apps and social media are assisting a whole community of travellers, enabling them to be well connected."

As a result, Rohizam says travellers have become more knowledgeable and hence, make better decisions for their travels. With SoLoMo, travellers can easily seek out the best deals and receive timely guidance throughout their entire travel experience.

"The tech savvy travellers tend to do a lot of research on what's available to them before they travel," he says. "Travellers have become much smarter nowadays."

With regards to online travel bookings, Rohizam advises travellers to exercise a certain degree of caution.

"The consumer should know who they're buying from. They should only buy from agents that are licensed," he says.

When comparing various travel packages, Rohizam emphasises that consumers have to ask enough questions so that it is crystal clear to them what products or services are actually being provided.

"Make a proper comparison so you are clear what you are paying for," he adds.

Relationships and reviews

The TripBarometer survey also noted that online reviews were highly valued by 92% of Malaysian travellers, with around 35% having booked accommodation for their last trip via online sources.

"User generated content in travel review websites such as TripAdvisor have revolutionised the way travellers plan their trips. It has given travellers a voice and a place to share their experiences. It has also promoted transparency in the travel industry and created a level playing field for businesses, both big and small, to reach travellers," Kaufer says.

TECH SAVVY: Sarang Galloway B&B owners and operators Michael Fong and Christina Foo have a high regard for TripAdvisor as a traveller's guide.TECH SAVVY: Sarang Galloway B&B owners and operators Michael Fong and Christina Foo have a high regard for TripAdvisor as a traveller's guide.

This has been especially beneficial for smaller businesses such as boutique hotels or bed and breakfast (B&B) inns.

Sarang Galloway B&B is among those who have benefited from being listed on TripAdvisor's website. The business is currently listed on TripAdvisor as the top B&B in Kuala Lumpur and it also won the 2013 Travellers' Choice Awards.

"TripAdvisor is highly treasured by travellers. Good reviews are hard to come by. When people say you're the best, it means a lot," says Michael Fong, who jointly owns and operates Sarang Galloway together with his wife, Christina Foo.

MORE EFFICIENT: Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur uses a paperless check-in system for its guests.MORE EFFICIENT: Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur uses a paperless check-in system for its guests.
Rosemarie Wee says technology has helped Shangri-La Hotel KL get closer to their guests and offer them more personalised deals.Rosemarie Wee says technology has helped Shangri-La Hotel KL get closer to their guests and offer them more personalised deals.

"The reviews, from what I've seen so far, have been objective, honest and trustworthy," he says, adding that he and Foo were also users of the TripAdvisor ­website themselves whenever they planned for their own holidays.

"We use it a lot ourselves so we felt that it would be good (for Sarang Galloway) to be seen on TripAdvisor too."

Even five-star luxury hotels such as Shangri-La Hotel KL has gained immensely from online exposure.

"It brings us closer to our guests. We can also update them with new offers in a more personalised, effective and efficient manner," says Rosemarie Wee, area director of ­communications at Shangri-La KL.

The hotel's use of technology is not just confined to its website. She shares that the hotel now uses a paperless check-in system for guests. In addition, hotel staff use a centralised system which helps them attend to the needs of guests more efficiently.

"When a request is put in, it is automatically sent to various departments like housekeeping, the concierge or engineering. From there, it's acted upon within a given time frame. This ensures a problem is handled immediately," Wee says.

Vital tool

Travel would not be possible without transport, and technology has definitely made its mark in this arena as well.

Aireen says AirAsia uses technology strategically to keep its operations lean and to minimise costs.Aireen says AirAsia uses technology strategically to keep its operations lean and to minimise costs.

"Travellers no longer rely on service ­providers such as airlines to feed them with information," says Aireen Omar, chief executive officer of AirAsia Bhd. "It is now the era of giving travellers what they want and not pushing what we want to sell to them."

More than 80% of AirAsia's sales come from online sources, such as its website and mobile app.

"E-commerce has become a vital business tool. AirAsia uses technology strategically to keep our operations lean and to minimise costs," explains Aireen, adding that social media has also impacted travel culture quite extensively.

"We found it extremely crucial to remain relevant to our guests through social media. These platforms act as our mouthpiece and work in a symbiotic way between us and our guests. They are able to reach us… and for us, it is the best way to receive feedback and improve our services," she says.

Meanwhile, bus service providers like Aeroline First Class Sdn Bhd are also tailoring their services to stay relevant in cyberspace.

"We were the first (bus company) in Malaysia and Singapore to start online booking back in 2006. Over the years, we find that more and more people prefer it. It's very convenient because it saves them time. It's proven to be a win-win situation for both us as well as our customers," says Law Cheok Gheen, chief executive officer of Aeroline.

The company also provides customers with the option of concurrently making a hotel booking via its website.

"Customers find it very convenient to immediately check into the nearby hotel after alighting our buses. This has proven to be very popular amongst our customers," he says.

Besides that, Law says that Aeroline has added touchscreen monitors to its buses to provide on-board entertainment to its passengers. Although a common feature for travel by air, it is a relatively new concept for bus services.

CONVENIENT: Online booking systems such as Aeroline's benefits both the bus operator and its customers.CONVENIENT: Online booking systems such as Aeroline's benefits both the bus operator and its customers.

He adds that the company also plans to use these monitors to obtain feedback from passengers while they are still aboard the bus.

"While they travel, they can give us feedback. We can get feedback on the day itself and we will respond in a faster manner as well," he says.

According to Law, Aeroline is also working towards providing WiFi connectivity to its passengers – a feature that it hopes to have up and running by the middle of this year.

As for Syarikat Central Pahang Omnibus Sdn Bhd, the company behind the First Coach brand of bus services, moving to an online booking system has allowed it to lower ticketing costs and reduce the workload of front desk staff.

"This frees the staff to attend to passenger queries and cuts down their waiting time," says Jason Yee, its chief operating officer.

"It has also enabled us to reach (customers) beyond Malaysia. We have overseas travellers planning journeys with us also," he says.

Currently, First Coach's passengers consist of 70% Malaysians and 30% foreigners.

Yee says the company intends to implement online self check-in features and to improve the overall speed of its website by August or September. The development of mobile apps and a thumbprint system for their drivers are also in the pipeline.

Personal touch

These are indeed interesting times for travellers, with new technologically powered products and services continuing to emerge as companies vie for the attention of consumers. But as advanced as technology may get, there is still an underlying human element required to make travel experiences truly meaningful.

Fong and Foo from Sarang Galloway B&B share their sentiments about striking the right balance between the use of technology and adding a personal touch:

BOOST: Getting featured on TripAdvisor is beneficial for travel related businesses, both hotels as well as bed and breakfast (B&B) inns.BOOST: Getting featured on TripAdvisor is beneficial for travel related businesses, both hotels as well as bed and breakfast (B&B) inns.

"We were approached by IT experts who wanted to design an online booking system for us. But we'd rather deal with each inquiry individually," Fong says. The website contains an enquiry form, but does not offer travellers a direct booking system.

"We've gotten comments from guests saying that they felt they already knew us even before they had arrived in KL. It's a very good compliment that's even better than getting (online) reviews," he says.

So, while the fact remains that technology is crucial for travel today, let's not forget to appreciate the faces behind it all who have made these conveniences possible for us.

Posted
April 30, 2013

Travel fair offers package deals to 150,000 hotels

Travel fair offers package deals to 150,000 hotels

Source: The Star Online

Author: The Star

Travel fair offers package deals to 150,000 hotels

SOTA’S Virtual Travel Fair (VTF) returns with more choices for travellers. The fifth VTF will be held from tomorrow to March 29.

“The participation this time around is one of the highest we have had.

“We’ve had more than 4,000 travel package deals being offered, along with accommodation package deals at some 150,000 hotels worldwide.

“With the growing maturity of online travel in Malaysia, we believe we will see an even stronger response for this year’s VTF,” said Rohizam Md Yusoff, chief executive officer at Creative Advances Technology Sdn Bhd (CAT), the company that developed Sota.

There are also prizes up for grabs even before the VTF kicks off.

Existing Sota passport members stand a chance to be one of three winners of a RM340 one-night stay at the Anggun Boutique Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

To participate, members need to register their interest in joining the VTF on the Sota website.

“Travellers who spend a minimum of RM100 on travel package deals or hotels will stand a chance to win a three-day, two-night trip to Macau, inclusive of accommodation and flight tickets.

“Also, a series of four e-auctions will take place daily from March 25 to 29,” said CAT marketing officer Joanna Liao.

VTF allows travellers to browse and purchase a wide variety of domestic and international travel package deals online.

The last VTF, organised in September 2012, saw a record-breaking 70,000 online visitors, with about 2,600 daily visitors.

“To further facilitate the VTF this year, Sota has introduced a live chat support feature tailored to provide instant online services and assistance to consumers and visitors,” Liao said.

VTF can be found at virtualtravelfair.allmalaysia.info.

Posted
March 12, 2013

5,000 tour packages on offer at Virtual Travel Fair from Wed

5,000 tour packages on offer at Virtual Travel Fair from Wed

Source: Business Times

Author: Cheryl Yvonne Achu

PETALING JAYA: Creative Advances Technology Sdn Bhd aims to rake in some RM15 million in travel packages enquiries through its Smart Online Travel Assistance's (Sota) fifth Virtual Travel Fair.

"With the growing maturity of online travel in Malaysia, we believe we will see an even stronger response for this year's virtual travel fair, especially with a bigger variety of travel packages and value-for-money deals offering greater incentives for savvy buyers," said Creative Advances Technology chief executive officer Rohizam Md Yusof.

According to Rohizam, the last Virtual Travel Fair held in September 2012 saw a record-breaking 70,000 online visitors, or about 2,600 online visitors daily.

"We expect more than 130,000 online visitors to participate in the upcoming Virtual Travel Fair," he told Business Times on a sideline of its media appreciation luncheon on Friday. 

The fifth Virtual Travel Fair is schedule to kick-off from Wednesday and ends on March 29. Themed "Great Deals, More Choices", it offers 5,000 travel packages and room deals from 150,000 hotels.

Rohizam said bargains include three-day/two-night packages to Universal Studios Singapore and Johor Legoland and seven-day/six-night packages to South Korea and Jeju Island, as well as umrah packages to Saudi Arabia.

"On top of that, travellers who spend a minimum of RM100 will stand a chance to win a a three-day/two-night package to Macau that includes accommodation and flight tickets worth RM7,000 for a contest held throughout the fair," he said.

There are value deals for trips to Beijing, Guilin, Phnom Penh, Bali, Makkah, Madinah, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, among many other exciting travel packages. 

Sota is an online travel platform that caters to both travel providers and travellers.

Posted
March 12, 2013

Virtual Travel Fair is Back with More Varieties for Travellers

Virtual Travel Fair is Back with More Varieties for Travellers

Source:  IT-Sideways

Author: Brandon Teoh

FRIDAY, MARCH 08, 2013

Virtual Travel Fair is Back with More Varieties for Travellers

(L-R:) Carroll Kee Pei Ros, Executive of Account Servicing (Digital) Star Publications (M) Bhd;  Michael A. Fredericks, Star Publication’s Portal Head of allmalaysia.info; Rohizam MD Yusoff, CEO of Creative Advances Technology Sdn Bhd and Joanna Liao, CMO of Creative Advances Technology Sdn Bhd announcing the launch of the 5th Virtual Travel Fair.

Petaling Jaya, 8th March 2013 – SOTA’s Virtual Travel Fair (VTF) returns once again, this time presenting greater travel deals and more choices of travel packages for travel buyers to choose from. The fifth VTF will commence from 13th March to 29th March 2013. 

“The travel provider participation for this VTF is among the highest that we have had, with more than 4,000 travel packages being offered and accommodation offered by 150,000 hotels worldwide. With the growing maturity of online travel in Malaysia, we believe we will see an even stronger response for this year’s VTF especially with more variety of travel packages and value for money deals offering greater incentives for savvy travel buyers,” said Rohizam Md Yusoff, Chief Executive Officer of Creative Advances Technology Sdn Bhd (CAT), the company that developed SOTA.

There are prizes up for grabs even before the VTF kicks off. Between1st March to 12th March, newly signed-up SOTA passport members stand a chance to win a pair of movie tickets through daily lucky draws. Existing SOTA Passport members also stand a chance every four days until 12th March to be one of three winners of a RM340 worth one-night stay prize at the beautiful Anggun Boutique Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, just by registering their interest to join the VTF on SOTA’s website. 

Apart from offering great incentive for travel buyers through a convenient online marketplace, the VTF presents value buys that translate to bigger savings for travellers. Some interesting packages offered in this fifth VTF include the hot-selling Universal Studios Singapore and Johor Legoland 3 days/2 nights trips, 7 days/6 nights Korea and Jeju trips and Umrah packages to the holy land. 

Posted
March 12, 2013

Time to travel

Time to travel

Source: TechCentral

Time to travel

MORE TRAVEL CHOICES: Rohizam Md Yusoff (left) and Creative Advances Technology Sdn Bhd chief marketing officer Joanna Liao promoting the fifth Virtual Travel Fair during a press briefing in Bandar Utama.MORE TRAVEL CHOICES: Rohizam Md Yusoff (left) and Creative Advances Technology Sdn Bhd chief marketing officer Joanna Liao promoting the fifth Virtual Travel Fair during a press briefing in Bandar Utama.

PETALING JAYA: Online travel platform, SOTA (Smart Online Travel Assistant) will hold its fifth Virtual Travel Fair (VTF) beginning next Wednesday (March 13) until March 29.

The bi-annually held event will feature a wider variety of travel deals for consumers this time around with 5,000 travel packages and 150,00 hotel choices spanning more than 60 countries.

Noteworthy deals which will be available at the upcoming VTF include a 3D/2N trip to Universal Studios Singapore and Johor Legoland; a 7D/6N trip to Jeju province of South Korea; and various Umrah packages.

Existing SOTA passport members stand the chance to become one of three winners for a one night stay at Anggun Boutique Hotel in Kuala Lumpur worth RM340 by registering for the upcoming VTF from today until March 12.

Newly registered SOTA passport members will also have the opportunity to win prizes in the form of a pair of movie tickets via daily lucky draws if they sign up within the same period.

In addition, buyers who spend a minimum of RM100 on hotel stays or travel packages on VTF will be in the running to win a 3D/2N stay at Macau (inclusive of flight tickets and accommodation) worth RM7,000.

Rohizam Md Yusoff, chief executive officer at Creative Advances Technology Sdn Bhd, the developer behind SOTA, said that one of the reasons for organising VTF was to encourage an industry-wide adoption of information technology.

"Many are not able to break through in this new digital economy and have lost their earnings," he said at SOTA's announcement of the fifth VTF to the media.

Rohizam explained that SOTA's Hotel Allocation System was commission free, setting it apart from other online travel agent websites which typically required a hefty commission from travel agencies for the use of their services. He said this could range anywhere between 15% to 25% in most cases.

"With SOTA's cloud based approach, we are able to reduce such costs. Now, our model only charges travel agents US$1 (RM3) per inquiry whereas hotels are charged US $2 (RM6) per booking," Rohizam said.

Besides this, agents seeking to use SOTA's services would also need to pay a setup cost of US$100 (RM300) when first subscribing to the service.

Presently, SOTA's services are being used by over 1,500 travel agents and hotel partners across 46 countries.

Rohizam was optimistic about the expected response from the public for the fifth VTF. He said that SOTA had experienced a 100% increase in unique visitors and a 200% increase in the number of inquiries with every subsequent VTF.

SOTA's fourth VTF, which was held in September last year, recorded a total of 70,000 online visitors, with about 2,600 visitors per day.

"Consumers are more confident now and they see a good reason to use online resources for travel," Rohizam added.

++++
virtualtravelfair.allmalaysia.info

Posted
March 12, 2013

Big plans for travel portal

Big plans for travel portal

 

SOTA-members-m19

Key players: Members of the travel industry paying close attention to SOTA’s industry briefing.

SMART Online Travel Assistance or better known as SOTA among the travel industry fraternity has lined-out big plans for 2013.

In order to increase market share and create awareness among travellers, SOTA plans to enhance its services, and carry-out an extensive advertising and promotion campaign.

“With the online travel business projected to reach US$357mil (RM1.08bil) this year in the Asia Pacific region alone with Asean, India and China being key players, it is important for all travel agents to be e-enabled,” said SOTA founder and chief executive officer Rohizam Yusoff.

He further added: “On average, approximately 95% of travel agencies in the region is not e-enabled. That is where we come in. SOTA helps startups to grow and expand their agency”.

The portal has also announced its partnership with major telco operator, Maxis.

“This partnership will create an exceptional network that will give SOTA members an exclusive opportunity to access more than 10 million subscribers on the Maxis network via the MyLaunchPad (MLP) portal,” said SOTA in a statement.

The portal will also introduce a section called Inspire Me, followed by package comparison and user review.

Virtual Travel Fair will be SOTA’s next innovation that is set to revolutionise the industry.

With some 8,000 unique visitors a day, provides an online centralised warehouse repository of your travel products and service offerings.

This means putting your travel deals, promotions, packages, rates and bookings online for consumers to choose securely in one accessible portal.

SOTA also makes this information accessible to consumers through their favourite websites and mobile devices.

Online travel startups can immediately be rolled out with a ready-to-use, complete suite of modules that include setting up a new website, issuing e-invoices, receiving secure payments and up-to-date intelligence reports on online travel businesses.

“We will continue assisting travel industry players with information technology solutions that will serve the needs of their customers and help strengthen their strategic positions within the industry’s value chain by developing innovations which the industry must be prepared to adopt and adapt to,” said Rohaizam.

Posted
January 24, 2013

SOTA Beats All, Becomes First to Enter the Malaysia Book of Records

SOTA Beats All, Becomes First to Enter the Malaysia Book of Records

sota_mbor_certificate_500

Congratulations are in order for Creative Advances Technology Sdn Bhd (CAT)'s online travel portal, SOTA, for having managed to enter the Malaysia Book of Records (MBOR).

SOTA, an abbreviation for 'Smart Online Travel Assistant', is a neutral online travel platform that gained the achievement by being the first and only travel portal that brings together multiple travel suppliers onto a single platform and giving its consumers access to a wider choice of B2B and B2C travel providers and products.

We are deeply honored that SOTA has made it into MBOR as the first online travel portal in Malaysia that caters to multiple travel suppliers,” said Rohizam Md Yusoff, Chief Executive Officer of CAT. “This recognition is an acknowledgment of our first-mover efforts in the online travel market,” Rohizam further commented.

SOTA was also one of the first in organizing a Virtual Travel Fair (VTF) that offers travel deals from multiple travel providers in Malaysia. The initiative enables travel buyers to browse and purchase a wide variety of discounted domestic and international travel packages online, without the hassle and jostling crowds.

Tourism is one of the largest industries contributing to Malaysia's economy and we applaud CAT for developing an online travel portal that can help travel providers in Malaysia reach more travel buyers by maximizing the potential of online travel bookings in the growing travel market,” commented Datuk Danny Ooi, Founder and Managing Director of MBOR during the presentation of certificate to SOTA.

Link to Article: http://www.hardwarezone.com.my/tech-news-sota-beats-all-becomes-first-enter-malaysia-book-records

Posted
January 23, 2013

Innovation: Key to relevance in travel industry

Innovation: Key to relevance in travel industry

 

Sota-screen-snap-580x378

The advent of e-business has seen many traditional brick-and-mortar brands that weren’t prepared for the online revolution losing market share with some even biting the dust.

 In the travel industry, the emergence of Online Travel Agents (OTA) has had a significant impact on the marketplace. Take for instance holiday booking engines such as Agoda, Booking.com, Wotif and Expedia which record hundreds of thousands of transactions daily round the clock, year in, year out, virtually drowning out even established regional travel agents with trusted reputations.

 In a period when the majority of airlines were struggling to break even, a company called Kayak started an airline meta search engine to further eat into their shrinking revenue stream.

 It soon became apparent to me that the winner is going to be the one that is willing to innovate and invest in technology to serve the needs of an ever-demanding marketplace.

The Malaysian scenario

There’s a relatively low adoption rate of new technology as far as the travel industry in Malaysia is concerned. But industry players are coming to realise that to stay relevant and solvent, they have to embrace information technology to rejuvenate their businesses.

Most, not being IT-savvy, end up groping in the dark. They simply do not have the know-how, the infrastructure and other resources to challenge the big boys. Their budgets, too, do not permit them to acquire the necessary expertise to compete in a hitherto unknown `battlefield’.

Rohizam-pix

Rohizam: Doubts and uncertainty reign for travel industry players due to a lack of knowledge on technological change and evolution.

Every way they turn they are faced with tricky problems. How do I put up an e-commerce site? Is it sufficient to have just a website? How much should I invest in online technology and how big an outlay should it be to stay at par with my competitors? What resources do I need to run my day-to-day business? Again, how much will it cost? How do I attract consumers to my site? Should I be more concerned about potential buyers visiting my site or do I get them to view my packages via other publisher sites? What are SEM and SEO?

Doubts and uncertainty reign owing to a lack of knowledge on technological change and evolution.

These are the main grouses of hoteliers, travel agents and other industry players based on my experience of working with them since 1999. Every time they think they have hit on a right solution, technology changes and throws them off balance. Some are persisting but many, especially travel agents, have thrown in the towel. Hotels do have the OTAs to rely on though, at the expense of paying them exorbitant commissions.

These issues are not peculiar to the local travel industry but are also the bane of the Asia-Pacific travel industry players.

Innovative solutions

It has not been easy but for the past 13 years, I have been innovating for the travel industry. My latest innovation being the introduction of Standard Online Tourism Architecture (SOTA).

SOTA (www.sota.travel) is unique for its value propositions as a solution to the travel industry with one of its features, the Smart Online Travel Assistant, created to serve the needs of consumers. SOTA’s vision is to bridge the digital divide inherent in the travel industry with the following mission:

  • To allow industry players to get online at the lowest cost possible
  • To enable industry players to independently manage their online businesses
  • To create an e-Marketplace and collaboration platform to attract consumers and business buyers alike
  • To keep introducing new technology to the travel industry

Progress has been made. Two years ago, when SOTA was set up, less than 5% of the travel industry players in Malaysia were e-enabled. Since then SOTA has enabled 30% of them with an increasing number now understanding the importance of being online. Today SOTA is not only powering the local travel industry but reaching out to the global industry as well.

With SOTA serving the online business needs of travel agents, we set upon innovating a solution for hotels and came up with HAS (Hotel Allotment System) to manage their sales distribution channels and connect to travel agents and consumers through a single platform. Incidentally, HAS is the first system of its kind in Asia.

We will continue assisting travel industry players with information technology solutions that will serve the needs of their customers and help strengthen their strategic positions within the industry’s value chain by developing innovations which the industry must be prepared to adopt and adapt to.

Virtual Travel Fair will be SOTA’s next innovation that is set to revolutionize the industry. The Fair simulates the physical consumer travel fair where consumers are offered travel packages from travel suppliers across the globe over a single website, round the clock.

 

About Rohizam Yusoff

Rohizam Yusoff has devoted more than 13 years into researching and developing technology solutions for the travel industry. His foray into e-travel began with developing a travel portal VirtualMalaysia.com and moving on to travel e-business by developing sota.travel and sotanetwork.com. His innovations have bagged multiple awards in the region.

 

Link to Article: http://www.businesscircle.com.my/innovation-key-to-relevance-in-travel-industry/#more-2517

Posted
January 16, 2013