Messaging, or “conversational commerce”, is poised to be one of the hottest trends shaping travel in 2019, according to Facebook’s global travel strategy and planning lead, Nikhliesh Ponde.
At the Facebook’s APAC Travel Summit in Singapore, it was revealed that people and businesses around the world now exchange over 10 billion messages each month.
This preference for messaging is even more pronounced in Asia-Pacific, where 87 per cent of smartphone owners use a messaging app every month.
“We recently conducted a global survey and found that people in emerging markets are twice as likely as those in mature markets to message a business at least once a month. People increasingly expect businesses to be available via messaging apps. This is a dynamic that travel businesses in Asia-Pacific are poised to leverage, given these are mobile-first markets,” Ponde added.
Some leading brands have already taken the leap by using WhatsApp to send timely notifications and offer customer support. First movers include leading airlines such as Singapore Airlines and travel planning websites like MakeMyTrip.com.
Messaging can also play a much deeper role as it draws people and businesses together into an ongoing conversation, said Meghan Joseph, client partner, Facebook Singapore.
“Consumers today visit numerous travel-related touch points over a few weeks when making a travel purchase. It’s much easier to make travel decisions when you have a personal and direct conversation – this is something that messaging can enable,” Joseph said.
The insights carry greater weight considering the emergence of a new middle class in Asia-Pacific. Nearly one in every two Internet users in Asia travels abroad at least once a year, the highest proportion of any region in the world.