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APAC Region Sees Explosive Growth in Travel-Related Super Apps

Natalie Karakina
September 20, 2022

After two or more years of travel restrictions, many parts of the world seem ready to finally get out and explore again. The travel industry is pulling out all of the stops to try to hire as many employees as it possibly can. CNBC.com reports the following about the situation in the travel and hospitality industries:

Meanwhile, airlines, hotels, and eateries face the opposite problem as their businesses continue to pick up following the era of Covid-induced shutdowns. After instituting mass layoffs early in the pandemic, they can't hire quickly enough to satisfy demand and are dealing with a labor market radically different from the one they experienced over two years ago, before the cutbacks.

The COVID-19 pandemic created an unusual situation in which every industry had to scramble to try to position itself properly as far as its workforce needs. Some companies laid off many workers at the very beginning of the pandemic as they saw their window to make profits closing. Indeed, travel was severely curtailed between countries and even within countries during the early days of the pandemic. However, much of the world has now reopened, and this means that many travel industry businesses are now seeing improvements in their financial position. Travel industry trends have improved significantly in the Asia-Pacific region especially as the region begins to relax some of its pandemic restrictions. Today, we will look at how mobile travel app companies can take advantage of the trends in travel and tourism to grow their businesses.

Travel App Statistics in APAC

The most popular travel apps are run by people who constantly keep their finger on the pulse of tourism industry trends. They need to know what the statistics say and what they can do to adjust their offerings to ensure that they align with the needs and desires of their customers. Thus, the owners of the best travel applications should know the following pieces of data: 

  • In the Asia-Pacific (APAC) Region, 83% of Smartphone Owners Already Have a Travel-Related App Installed 

A significantly high percentage of people in the APAC region already have one or more travel apps installed on their smartphones. This is significantly higher than many other parts of the world, and it goes to show that people in the APAC region are highly interested in traveling both around their own region of the world and more broadly as well. 

  • Online Travel Bookings are Through the Roof in APAC 

People living in the APAC region have been under some of the tightest COVID-19 travel restrictions than any other part of the world. In fact, they often faced severe lockdowns even within their own home countries. Now, some of those restrictions are beginning to ease, and people all throughout APAC are ready to travel again. This has sent online travel bookings soaring. 

  • Mobile Travel Apps are Very Popular Regionally 

One of the strongest travel industry trends is the trend toward using mobile apps to make bookings. Say goodbye to the travel agencies of the past and hello to personalized bookings on the go. 

  • Hotel Bookings are Up and More Profitable 

There is statistical evidence that hotel bookings are on the rise all throughout APAC. The numbers do not lie in this case. Hotel bookings have risen in revenue from approximately $10 billion USD in 2018 to an estimate of $36 billion USD in 2025.

  • Southeast Asia's Economy Strongly Relies on Travel 

The Southeast Asian economy has added to its value by incorporating many more jobs in the travel and tourism industries. This is not to say that the region has come to rely solely on travel as its lifeblood, but rather, it has added the boost that tourism can provide it to help bolster its already impressive economy a little higher. There is something very impressive about all that the region has done to help create greater levels of stability through the region by doing this. 

These statistics and many others are the types of technology and travel concepts that are always top of mind for people who operate within these industries on a daily basis. They know exactly what it means to be intimately involved with the travel industry, and they are always keeping an eye on the dynamic factors that play a role in the evolution of this sector of the economy. 

The Latest Trends in the Travel Industry

The trends in the tourism industry that are worth keeping a close eye on include some of the following. 

Many Travelers are Planning Solo Trips

A full 30% of travelers said that they were planning on traveling alone in a July 2020 survey conducted by Bookings.com. This was up significantly from 17% that said the same the year before. Some of this jump is likely attributed to the fact that COVID-19 had many people concerned about traveling with anyone else (including loved ones), but another aspect to keep in mind is the fact that travel is very expensive. Even married couples often find that one partner needs to stay behind and continue working to maintain the financial stability of the household. With that in mind, it starts to make more sense why solo travel is soaring. 

Localized Experiences are Preferred

Enjoying something that is a little off the beaten trail or doesn't qualify as a "tourist trap" is something that will very likely garner a lot more attention from the average traveler these days. People want to see places that are not always seen by many travelers from before. They are interested in a unique experience that they can tell their friends and family about. 

Travel Apps are as Important as Passports to Many Travelers Today

It may sound unusual, but travel apps have become nearly as important as passports to travelers these days. How could that possibly be the case? Because some travel apps allow users to store their COVID-19 vaccination status and/or test results directly on the app. This is critical as some countries are insistent on seeing those test results and vaccination status before they permit a traveler to enter their borders. They have had to come down hard on things like this to try to keep their own people safe. 

One example of this is the country of Singapore which had all of its citizens download their vaccination cards onto a travel app for safe storage. Most of the population responded quite positively to this as they felt that it was a great way of saving themselves from the hassle of having to carry around a physical vaccination card when an app was clearly so much easier. 

Consumers tend to like to find out about the best travel applications and other information online anyway, so plenty of people saw this as a simple extension of the way that they discover and use other information anyway. 

Why Super Apps Will Outcompete Other Apps

Looking at app trends in the travel industry, it is clear that online travel agents or "super apps" are the clear preference of most people who use travel apps at all. They see them as an excellent way to gather all of the various factors that will impact their next trip in one place. They are easy to use, and they simplify many aspects of the traveler's life. With this in mind, other app creators often wonder how they can possibly compete. The truth is, nearly all app creators will need to adapt to the world that we live in today and make their apps molded to the realities that consumers want to see. 

Most Consumers Prefer Multi-Functional Apps

When surveyed, 67% of consumers say that they prefer multi-function apps. These are apps that literally serve more than one purpose, and it is easy to understand why this is favored by most consumers. The trends in mobile all point to using apps in ways that make life easier and at one's fingertips. Apps that only solve one issue at a time are going by the wayside in favor of those that provide solutions to multiple issues. Think about how phones have involved becoming Internet browsers, flashlights, calculations, contact list holders, and so much more. They provide us with an incredible amount of utility, and most of us can't imagine life without our phones. The same holds true for many consumers and their favorite travel apps. 

Super Apps are the Future

It is challenging for anyone in the travel industry to say with a straight face that super apps aren't the future. It is abundantly clear that they are preferred by consumers, and that is often all that it takes to push the industry in a certain direction. 

Millennials are a particularly common target for super apps as this age group often appreciates the ability to manage various parts of their life all under a single app. When keeping up with busy work life and a vacation schedule can all be done under a single app, then people are going to want to hear more about it. This could help simplify their lives in ways that other products simply do not. 

An Example of Growing OTA Super App: AirAsia

An online travel agency super app like AirAsia is almost guaranteed to be a success. They have already proven their success with more than 100 million monthly visitors to their web pages every month. Those are the kind of numbers that most OTAs would love to see on their own balance sheet. It is the kind of popularity that proves that super apps aren't going anywhere anytime soon. 

Asia-Based Super Apps are Seeing Tremendous Growth

Companies that have specifically set their sights on creating super apps for the Asian market have seen outstanding growth in the number of users and success of those apps. A region of the world that has been under tight lockdowns for over two years now is finally ready to get out and explore again, and they want to bring many aspects of their life with them via a super app.

On-Demand Travel Services

One of the application trends to watch for is how many travel apps are using on-demand services to meet the needs of their customers. For example, many people like to book their hotel accommodations at the same time that they are booking the various activities that they will do while on vacation. An app with on-demand services for both hotel bookings and sightseeing books can allow them to book both at the same time.

Many people are interested in booking their own travel arrangements without getting any third party involved at all if they can avoid it. They prefer to set their own schedule, make their own rules, and essentially they want to make sure they can set their own schedule for their vacation to be exactly how they want it to be. 

Augmented Reality (AR) in Super Apps

There are some apps such as SingaporeAir which use augmented reality (AR) to allow their users to see if they will need to check their luggage before boarding the plane. This is a high-tech feature that may be useful for passengers who are uncertain about the status of the luggage that they are bringing onto the plane and if they will need to worry about checking it in at the front counter or not before they are on their way. It is just one more small way that the airlines are saving people a little time and effort. 

Hotels vs Super Apps

It used to be the case that hotels benefited significantly from the use of apps. Simply having people book their vacations online meant that hotels could count on an extra stream of revenue from people who decided that they would book online instead of in. Along with the increase in the number of people who want to book their own vacations on their own terms, there are also many people who insist on setting up their own reservations with services such as Airbnb. The tricky part about this is that it means that hotels lose out on revenue that they might have been able to count on in the past. Thus, some hotels have truly seen a decline in bookings as a result of super apps. You can imagine that they might be primed to strike back sooner rather than later. 

Standing Out as a Travel App

To compete in this ever-growing industry, niche apps have to invest more in their own channels to provide a better experience for users. Storyly Stories help travel apps do exactly that. This service allows marketing and product teams to utilize Storyly to ensure that they are making the most of every feature of their travel app. It is particularly important to discover ways to inspire users to begin the journey of imagining what a travel life could look like for them. Storyly Stories can provide all of that to any user. 

The travel industry shows no signs of slowing down, particularly in the APAC region. Thus, it is wise to consider the upside benefits of creating powerful super apps for those who might want to travel after two-plus years of lockdowns.

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