Singapore’s Tourism Board and NATAS to partner with The FinLab to help travel agencies evolve through digital transformation

The Ministry of Communications and Information announced that The FinLab would be collaborating with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS) to help travel agencies evolve and renovate their businesses via a digital transformation programme for the selected businesses.

Singapore’s economy relies heavily on the tourism industry, which accounts for approximately four per cent of its annual gross domestic product. However, changing consumer behaviour and the growing competition for tourism dollars regionally pose a significant challenge to the industry.

Consequently, to ensure the industry’s continued growth, it is important for members of the industry to grasp the currently available opportunities in the online travel market, particularly those in the Asia Pacific online travel market, which is expected to grow by 13 per cent by focusing on technological transformation.

None the less, it was noted that despite most consumers moving to online booking sites, travel agencies retain the opportunity to go beyond the usual issuance of e-tickets and vouchers and, in addition to these services, provide consumers with more personalised services. Thus, travel agencies must understand how they can apply digital solutions to understand and connect more effectively with their target audience along with personal interaction. 

In the face of a dynamic economic landscape in Singapore, travel agencies and the companies and initiatives that seek to help them grow and transform must remain constantly cognizant of the challenges that SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) face in harnessing the potential of technology and in transforming it into benefits for their businesses.

Experts maintain that in order for the travel industry to continue to capitalise on growth opportunities in the long-term it must continue to innovate. One avenue to do this is to collaborate with partners who have the expertise to assist Singapore’s travel agents in developing digital competencies.

The FinLab, a partnership between SGInnovate and United Overseas Bank (UOB), is a business accelerator formed to propel technology companies and catalyse the digital transformation of businesses.

The FinLab’s programme presents the selected Singaporean travel agencies the opportunity to not only connect to The Finlab’s ecosystem of associates to transform their business digitally but also enables them to use what they have learned to improve their business’ performance, enhance consumer experiences and seize business opportunities present in the digital economy.

Ms Ong Ling Lee, Director at Travel Agents and Tourist Guides, STB stated that their collaboration with The FinLab is one of several initiatives created to support travel agencies and help them grown and transform their businesses in an increasingly competitive tourism market. “We hope that with the practical guidance provided by this acceleration programme, travel agents will be encouraged to take the first step towards achieving their growth ambitions”, Ms Lee added.

The acceleration programme, which is scheduled to last for three months, began on Monday, 11 June 2018. Four travel agencies were selected to participate in the programme. The programme’s curriculum is structured to enable these travel agencies to identify the areas that hinder business growth. It will also help agencies understand how to resolve these issues through technology and employ digital solutions best-suited to their requirements.

Over the course of the programme, these agencies will be provided with the expertise, resources and hands-on guidance offered by The FinLab and its network of industry specialists, mentors and technology front-runners. To order to deliver an even more sophisticated and well-rounded service, the travel agencies will be introduced to solution providers, principally experts in the fields of data analytics and digital marketing. These specialists will then help the travel agencies identify and pilot the most suitable and inventive solutions to their concerns.

The collaborative programme is scheduled to end some time in August 2018.

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