25.11.12

[tourismindonesia] Shower me with your talent and passion, Jakarta



***talking about the Indonesian travel market which, on first sight, can appear very intimidating and complicated but if you study and deconstruct it, and experiment a little, you're sure to find that one tap that gives you plenty of cash flow.

***One characteristic of the Indonesian market is that despite foreign brands dominating the list of top websites – the top three being Facebook, Google and Blogger, according to comScore data – you'll find local brands in the top 100.

Shower me with your talent and passion, Jakarta

Posted on 21 Nov 2012 at 11:52 am by Yeoh Siew Hoon 

I think the shower in my room at Hotel Mulia Senayan is a good representation of the Indonesian travel market. Honest.

At first sight, it's extremely intimidating because it looks like a contraption in a space shuttle where you probably need lots of things to hold you down while you soap your body in zero gravity. That is, if they do take showers in space – note to myself: must google that.

There are lots of taps – two at top, one in middle, one at bottom and lots of jet-like protrusions that look like they might spit out at you when they are angry.

So you wonder which ones you should use and your first attempt will probably leave you either scalded or frozen because there's very little room to manouevre while you experiment.

After a few trials and errors though, you realise that like everything else, if you deconstruct it, it's very simple – there's only one tap you need to work and that's the one you stick to.

Occasionally you might wish to experiment with a second tap – but you'll find you always go back to that which gives you the best results – in this case, flow of water.

Wait, am I still talking about the shower? No, I am now talking about the Indonesian travel market which, on first sight, can appear very intimidating and complicated but if you study and deconstruct it, and experiment a little, you're sure to find that one tap that gives you plenty of cash flow.

Like tiket.com which has found a new tap in rail – it signed an agreement with PT Kereta Api in August to sell rail tickets on its site – and managing director and co-founder Gaery Undarsa says they are seeing strong interest and bookings. "More people are booking rail than flights." 

So do I see an Indian Railways scenario unfolding here – which is the biggest ecommerce portal in India and the region – and with the huge domestic population of 246 million, Indonesia could well be the next rail ecommerce market in Asia.

Tiket.com, launched a year ago, is billing itself as the one-stop travel and entertainment gateway. It is currently self-funded but you can tell there's no shortage of investor interest – lots of funds are coming into Indonesia to explore the online and ecommerce opportunity. 

Wego Indonesia, the travel search site, has grown to 22 staff in about a year and is building a strong community mostly using social. Both tiket.com and wego.com know they can't compete on search with the likes of Agoda or booking.com so they are finding ways to get their message out via social which is huge in Indonesia.

While people spend less time on the Internet here, compared with other countries in South-east Asia, they spend most of their time on social networks.

Here are some key numbers I got from the Alpha Terra Digital Marketing conference I attended yesterday – close to 80 million Internet users. 45 million Facebook members. 20 million Twitter accounts – out of 50 million daily tweets, 6 million are from Indonesia. More than 60% of web access from mobile.

Undarsa and Graham Hills, boss of Wego Indonesia, believe ecommerce will also grow as people's mindset changes. For them, it's not about the infrastructure but earning the trust of consumers to make payments online.

"It's easy to make payments online in Indonesia – we use ATMs – so as a local player, we know how to make this work but customers have to become more confident about it," said Undarsa. Currently, 40% of tiket.com's customers book online and Undarsa says call centres and service are still very important.

One characteristic of the Indonesian market is that despite foreign brands dominating the list of top websites – the top three being Facebook, Google and Blogger, according to comScore data – you'll find local brands in the top 100.

"This is unlike other markets in Asia where you don't see many local sites and this will grow in Indonesia," observed Kerry Brown, vice president-South-east Asia for comScore in her presentation.

Undarsa believes this will also happen in the online travel space and that local brands will make a strong showing in the market in years to come.

Hills however believes competition will be intense. Foreign OTAs are placing local teams into Indonesia and investing resources and with their scale, they could prove difficult to dislodge.

Whatever the case, it looks like Indonesia will remain hot. The conference I attended showcased plenty of local creativity, talent and smarts. It's become the centre for developing games and film-making – a new kind of film-making for the web.

The last session at the conference was by Layari, a new local online video company whose CEO Dennis Adishwara, who is an actor, director and writer, showed a few videos it had made – one is a web series on superheroes and it comes complete with brand placements, sponsored messages and advertisements.

"It's embarrassing but hey, we are a start-up and we are passionate about what we do, and so we do what we have to," he said in Bahasa.

And that local passion and talent is one of the taps you need to figure out how to tap into (pardon the pun) if you are not to be scalded by a hot Indonesia.

Now back to the shower – since I've learnt that in online, there is no such thing as perception, only data – it'd be interesting to get data on which tap is most frequently used by guests. Perhaps we could set up a showering focus group – given most things are rarely done now without focus groups – and gather the relevant data.

I suspect in the end though, it will trickle down to simplicity – one tap that rules them all.

Note: Save the date March 21 for our first WIT Indonesia, Pullman Central Park, Jakarta.

http://www.webintravel.com/blog/shower- ... karta_3463


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