Indonesian agents brace for digital leap with new online platforms

Two of Indonesia’s major travel agency associations have launched online platforms, as the industry pushes forward in its integration with the digital economy.

Both the Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA) and the Association of Air Ticketing Companies (ASTINDO) emphasised the importance of being present in the online space in order to compete with OTAs, which they said have been “eating up” offline business.

Indonesian stakeholders are pushing for greater digital integration to streamline the tourism industry

“Together with Alexia, a local IT company who has experience in airline business, ASTINDO created a B2B2C platform to help the brick-and-mortar, middle and small scale travel companies to get back and stay in business,” said Sjachrul Firdaus, ASTINDO’s national board executive director.

The Astindohub platform is white-labelled, which means agents may use their own brands while being fully supported by Astindohub.

“There will be no Astindohub label on the agent’s websites,” explained Sjachrul.

The Astindohub online system accommodates GDSs and allows every association member to present products even if they are not an IATA, an appointed agent, or have owned a tour product.

Meanwhile, ASITA launched the B2B AsitaGo website on July 2017 to help members in 34 provinces across Indonesia transition to digital with an affordable investment.

“We as online intermediaries establish partnership between agents and airlines or hotels,” said Prastyo Hendarso, general manager of AsitaGo.

Prastyo explained that AsitaGo is a marketplace where travel agents meet with airlines and hotel operators to negotiate prices and rooms or seat allotments.

To enter the system and use the engine, agents need only to select the chapter they belong to, and log in with their access code.

Meanwhile, Astindohub activity comrpises four layers. The first is of the IATA wholesale agent (the “organiser”); airlines and hotels; API (Application Programme Interface) owners; and airline appointed agents. Each is required to pay the 20 million rupiah (US$1,538) rupiah joining fee.

The second layer is the reseller, be it an IATA agent and or agents that have been appointed to some airlines. The joining fee is 10 million rupiah. The third is the sub-agent that only owns a legal entity to open a travel agent, and the fourth is the individual agent who does not own anything but is willing to be in the business.

“The wholesaler will look for its reseller down-liners to sell their products. The reseller will look for its sub agent to sell the products and so on,” Sjachrul said.

Both Astindohub and AsitaGO charge 2,500 rupiah per domestic transaction and 5,000 per international transaction.

Dyah Permatasari of Jendela Tours and Travel, an organiser at Astindohub, said that the system has benefited her business in various ways.

“The system has sped up every transaction, cut the cost in human resources, and broadened the business in terms of range,” she said, expressing optimism that there will be a 20 to 30 per cent increase in sales in the year to come.

“We are still in the process of ensuring the system works perfectly. Now, we are in the second phase with seven organisers doing the pilot project. We will accomplish the second phase by December of this year, and target to complete the third phase by mid of 2018,” explained Sjachrul.

He shared that that the association is targeting to have at least 50 per cent of the over 700 ASTINDO members join Astindohub.

The obstacles, Sjachrul said, come from traditional travel agents who are resisting the shift to digital. “We are working very hard to change their mind set,” added Sjachrul.

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