OTA Insight spent three days at WTM Latin America earlier this month. The main global event in the travel sector in Latin America, the conference took place in São Paulo and welcomed 600 exhibitors from over 50 countries.
In attendance with our OTA Insight team was Dave Collier, General Manager for the Americas at OTA Insight, who pointed out that “with an annual GDP contribution approaching US$180 billion, Latin America has emerged as a hugely important region for hospitality. What’s clear is that as the Latam region continues to grow and become more complex, simple-to-use and reliable business intelligence solutions are must-have technology moving forward.”
Dave noted: “Hoteliers in the market are becoming more savvy, demanding best-in-class tools with an open API strategy that allows for easy integration. We noticed that groups operating in Brazil have a strong sense of identity and growth plans. The global chains are making regionally-based decisions and looking for vendors who can grow with them in the market.”
Dave expressed that “hotel groups are starved of the right technology that allows them to execute at a higher level”, making it all the more important to open up technology options in the LATAM region.
But what was the word on the ground? What trends and topics were hoteliers most keen to discuss? We review the landscape.
The conference gave us an opportunity to present a session on Navigating your way around the environment of constant changes in distribution in 2019, which includes more than 50 participants This covered trends and highlights on the changing distribution landscape with the aim of improving understanding of these changes and showing hoteliers how to use data to optimise their online channels and maximise revenue.
With inbound tourism expected to increase to nearly 80 million in LATAM until 2028, and global online travel forecast to rise steadily up to 2020, it’s crucial to take advantage. The South American and Central American markets are showing great promise, with hoteliers ready to capitalise on them, but challenges, some of them technical, remain.
Our distribution session included discussions on: optimising your channel mix; new players on the horizon; and using insights to drive revenue. The last point covered is particularly pertinent; according to hoteliers in an OTA survey soon to be released, the highest ranked tech affecting the market will be business intelligence.
Other notable topics covered at WTM Latin America included:
This talk centered on the growing number of travel companies today looking to provide customers with a highly personalised travel booking experience and the technological barriers such as integration, data management and scalability. Igor Franco of Expedia Partner Solutions covered the pain points faced by providers as they look to adopt advanced technologies and create new sources of business value.
This Travel Forward session looked at how hospitality has evolved in a consumer-driven world where everybody has equal access to information, leading to traveller expectations growing faster than reality.
Speaker, Tatiana Vanvelzor, Regional Director of Business Development in Latin America and Caribbean for Sabre Hospitality, questioned what this means for traditional travel providers in the wake of digital-first organisations, and how Latin American travel companies can use technology to transform at the same time as maintaining their core proposition and brand.
As well as highlighting the top trends in hospitality for 2019 and beyond, Phocuswright looked to uncover the key trends, challenges and opportunities to stay ahead, including working with the big players while keeping an eye on the startup market. Trends included advertisers aligning spend with consumer travel engagement online versus previous offline dominance. Mobile travel booking in China was also discussed, along with the rise of consumers feeling comfortable interacting with hotels via social media messaging.
Phocuswright Market Specialist for Latin America, Tricia Neves Levy, also spoke about staying on top of the continued shifts in digital, understanding chat and voice, traveller experiences and consumers' evolving accommodation tastes.
With the Chinese outbound tourism market growing rapidly, this presents a huge opportunity for Latin American destinations. This was already recognised at WTM Latin America when the president of Brazilian Tourism Institute, also known as Embratur, met with PromPerú, a Peruvian international promotion body. This meeting aimed to evaluate possible measures that increase the tourist flow between both countries and the opening to large emitters of international tourists, specifically China.
Chinese digital marketing agency Dragon Trail interactive detailed the most important digital tools for attracting and accommodating Chinese tourists. Sienna Parulis-Cook, Communications Manager at Dragon Trail Interactive stated: “China is a very digital, smart market in terms of mobility both for B2B and B2C tourism marketing. But it has a complete set of digital tools, including OTAs, search mechanisms and social media that are completely different from those used in the rest of the world.”
The session looked at tools such as WeChat marketing and video content, with examples of how they are already driving success for destinations such as Peru, Panama and Argentina. With WeChat reported to have hit one billion monthly users last month, the platform is a crucial player in accessing the Chinese market. Video content in China has also continued to grow with consumers forecast to spend two hours a day watching videos online in 2020.
Gabriela Otto, CEO of GO Consultoria, discussed the 'customer-centric' culture that has evolved within the travel market, coupled with the current period of innovation. She stated that this climate provided the foundation for escaping the commoditisation common with most companies, and allowed for the establishment of an Enchantment Travel Culture that could bring greater financial sustainability and customer satisfaction. The session placed high emphasis on customisation and memorable experiences all being within the grasp of hotels to push to provide.
If you didn’t get a chance to meet the team in São Paulo, contact us today.
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