The times, they’re no longer the same. It’s time for us to dance to a different beat. What is the new rhythm we have to find to get travel moving again?
Anyone who’s worked in Asia knows how different and fragmented the markets are and Covid-19 certainly showed this up. Just as different markets went into it at different times, they are also emerging at different times. One provides lessons for the others. China is clearly setting the pace for recovery for North Asia. In South-east Asia, it’s a bit more complex. We speak to someone who’s got a good overview and understanding of the Asia groove, who’s seen the fall and rise of the past three months, and get her views on how it all connects for travel recovery in the region – from hospitality to food & beverage, loyalty and startups.
Yeoh Siew Hoon
When he spoke at WiT Singapore last October, he quipped about how online travel was as bloody and competitive as the George RR Martin-inspired TV series. Well, some would say Covid-19 is GOT-meet-Walking Dead-meet-Contagion. How has one of Asia’s largest OTAs withstood the carnage? And what is it doing to pick itself up and get back on the recovery trail? You heard it here first.
Yeoh Siew Hoon
We kick off our series of letters from our “correspondents” from different corners of the world. In 10-minute missives, they will give you updates on their markets through their unique lens.
Letter From Australia: Rod Cuthbert, Board Member, VELTRA Corp; Former Chairman & CEO, Viator & Rome2rio
Letter From Hong Kong: Dr. Jennifer Cronin, President, Wharf Hotels
Letter From Singapore: Keith Tan, CEO, Singapore Tourism Board
Singapore Tourism Board
In this rapid-fire format, two investors with a keen eye on tech and travel shoot questions at each other to get to the bottom of how Covid-19 has coloured the investment landscape, and what the future will look like for the flow of money.
Queen's Road Capital
Managing Director, Chinaccelerator
Most of us may not be able to fly yet, but at least we can still do stuff at home or travel nearby. That has been the silver lining companies such as Klook which is all about things to do in places. Learn how this startup, fighting the brawl of its young life, turned its attention towards home and local experiences to stay alive. But is it enough?
Yeoh Siew Hoon
We visit Japan and South Korea, two of Asia’s big outbound and domestic markets, to get an update on how travel industry players have managed to ride on the coat-tails of recovery and how they see Covid-19 changing the face of their markets.
Vice President, Corporate Development
LINE TRAVEL.jp & Trip101
With the world’s second largest population, it is hard to imagine a country such as India in lockdown. But locked down, it did. And on May 25, domestic flights started after a two-month hiatus. What’s it been like in the trenches for India’s largest OTA, MakeMyTrip? We catch up with its Founder & Group Executive Chairman to get the story firsthand.
Yeoh Siew Hoon
The second instalment of letters from our “correspondents” as they share their missives in 10 minutes each.
Letter From South Africa: Stephan Ekbergh, CEO, Travelstart
Letter From The Middle East: Ross Veitch, CEO & Co-founder, Wego
Letter From Saudi Arabia: Muzzammil Al-Hussain, Executive Vice President, Consumer Travel, Seera Group
This letter will be delivered in the form of an interview wrapped around philosophy and love.
Yeoh Siew Hoon
D-EDGE Hospitality Solutions
From Paris, we hop over to London to catch up with our colleague Kevin May, editor-in-chief, of PhocusWire, who will have in The Big Chair, one of the leading thinkers in the investment world whose interests span genetic testing, Internet of Things, fintech and travel.
Editor in Chief
Amadeus Capital Partners
From Europe, we fly to Bogota, Colombia, where we catch up with Latin America’s superapp, Rappi, to find out its plans for travel. Rappi, launched five years ago, reached unicorn status when it raised $1 billion in 2018, backed by names such as Softbank and Sequoia. It started as a delivery service but now looks more like China’s WeChat, combining a messenger service, social media, online shopping and payment, with more than 4.2 weekly app openings per active user.
From Vancouver, we journey south towards the US West Coast where we hand over the “unity” baton to our sister brand, Phocuswright, just in time for a breakfast conversation.
No WiT is complete without its signature debate. We gather our loyal and passionate debators for this final destination of our around-the-world event.
The Proposition: Nothing will change. When it’s all over, we’ll be travelling just the way we used to.
There are many commentators predicting that the Covid-19 Pandemic will force dramatic changes to the way people travel and make their buying decisions, and travel companies who survive the lockdown will have to make the right bet on this question. Then there are those who say nothing will changed, people’s memories are short and when things recover, we will go back to normal behavior because, as author Yuval Noah Harari states, no crisis has ever changed human behavior.
We pit two teams of industry figures against each other in this WiT signature debate. You decide who wins.
Timothy Hughes, Vice President, Corporate Development, Agoda
Paulina Klotzbucher, Group Chief Commercial Officer, Travelstart
Chan Chee Chong, CEO & Co-founder, GlobalTix
Timothy O’Neil-Dunne, Principal, 777 Partners
Shyn Yee Ho-Strangas, Director, Product Management (Conversations Platform), Expedia Group
Emilie Couton, Vice President, Digital Marketing APAC, Accor
Louise Daley, Deputy CEO APAC, Accor
For those in the Asia time zone or any time zone – remember, we are all in the same boat – join us for our closing party hosted by Singapore’s top DJ, One with Aldrin.