“Tours and activities are really lagging behind”: Klook marketing boss talks tech in travel

“Tours and activities are really lagging behind”: Klook marketing boss talks tech in travel

Travel Weekly caught up with Klook’s ANZ marketing director (and Travel DAZE speaker), Jonathan Williams, to discuss the company’s approach to sustainability and technology’s role in the travel industry.

TW: What are you most looking forward to about Travel DAZE this year?

JW: It’s always good to connect with the industry, and there aren’t many events like this. Travel DAZE is attracting cutting-edge, forward-looking brands, and we feel very much at home there sitting between technology and travel. It’s always good to hear new ideas and talk about the future of travel, and I think there will be some very interesting discussions to come out of it.

TW: The theme for Travel DAZE this year is ‘sustainability’. How does Klook approach sustainability as a company?

JW: Our goal has always been to make activities all over the world more accessible to consumers, which isn’t just about driving people to well-established activities. It’s also about bringing out the lesser-known ones that travellers may have only been able to discover once they’re in another country or stumble across in the past. Our platform is about ease and convenience so tourists can discover more, go off the beaten track and find these hidden gems that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to experience if it wasn’t for technology. We want to help sustain growth in tourism by diversifying the activities space with a mobile-first approach; providing the same level of convenience consumers expect from Uber and Airbnb in finding what they want and booking it instantly.

TW: Without giving too much away, what will you be speaking about at Travel DAZE, and what’s the key message you hope to impart to attendees?

JW: The message I’d like everyone to take away from the day is really how technology can be a force for good in terms of creating sustainable tourism. As I mentioned, diversification is really important. As tourism grows, as we have developing markets coming into the industry, and that puts pressure on the most popular attractions in the world. But I think with technology giving people more choice and accessibility to those largely untapped places, it actually helps spread that growth across a much wider range of activities.

TW: What are some other travel companies that impress you in terms of their approach to sustainability?

JW: Airbnb is a great example. We’ve seen a shift towards people get off the beaten track and have really personal, unusual experiences, and I think anywhere that gives people greater access to places where they wouldn’t otherwise go is a force for good. What Airbnb has always done really well is it hasn’t just led with location – it’s actually led with inspiration.

TW: How do you see the future of travel tech playing out over the next five to 10 years?

JW: I think we’re going to see more travellers designing their own trips and having more control. There aren’t many Millennials and Gen Zs going towards pre-packaged holidays – they want to have the flexibility to act on what they’ve heard or seen in destinations through technology.

Every single tourism provider needs to embrace technology in order to survive and thrive. There are some destinations and activities that aren’t natives to modern technology – what they do best is being wonderful hosts and providing wonderful experiences. About 61 per cent of the whole tourism sector is online, but if you then break that down to the tours and activities sector, it’s only 15 per cent that are bookable online. So, tours and activities are really lagging behind the rest of the industry, which is concerning, and I think that comes back to the fact that they’ve been relying heavily on ‘passing traffic’ and people physically discovering them. They may not have the same pressure as hotels to be discovered online, but they’ll soon realise there’s a huge amount of untapped opportunity and growth that’s there if they can work with providers that have their best interests at heart and help bring the right kind of customers to them.

Williams will join a number of other stellar speakers at Travel DAZE, including former Greens leader Bob Brown, Gardening Australia host and Logie winner Costa Georgiadis, IHG’s Leanne Harwood, Google’s Michelle Allen, Malaysia Airlines’ Giles Gilbert, Abercrombie & Kent’s Sujata Raman, Planeterra’s Jamie Sweeting, and Flight Centre’s Sandra Vardanega. Check them all out here.

This year, Travel DAZE will tackle sustainability, but we’re not just talking about carbon offsetting and charitable practices.

Companies must now adopt a social cause, an organisational purpose, a long-term business strategy so it remains relevant and sustainable.

Sustainability is about marketing the sustainable credentials you have, sustaining staff and using tech to sustain growth.

It’s about retail and wholesale moving away from the unsustainable race to push the lowest rate.

It’s about advances in aviation, creative ideas based on moral principles and sustaining your customer base, market share and bottom line.

Travel DAZE explores creating the most sustainable travel businesses we’ve ever seen.

This year, the event will be held on Wednesday 28 August at the NSW Teachers Federation in Sydney We’ve also come up with a nice little deal for Travel DAZE so that your whole squad can come along!

If you buy two tickets to the only TED-style talks for travel, you’ll get one for FREE!

To secure your spot at the travel industry’s most disruptive conference and take advantage of this awesome offer, click HERE.


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