Transforming travel

Traveloka’s CEO of transport, Iko Putera, shares the importance of driving the shift towards sustainable transportation

Transportation fuels travel. From planes to trains, and cars to buses, globetrotting travellers are spoiled for choice today – but those very same forms of transportation are threatening to impede our collective future.

A large carbon footprint trails in the travel industry’s wake – the sector is responsible for around 11 per cent of global carbon emissions. This figure is likely to double by 2050, according to scientists. Meanwhile, transportation contributes to 20 per cent of global carbon emissions.

With travel back in full swing, sustainability is in sharp focus. Traveloka found that 80 per cent of travellers surveyed in Indonesia are more likely to choose sustainable accommodation. Transportation is their next consideration.

More moral imperative than a trend, an increasing number of people are seeking eco-friendly rides to complement their voracious appetite for travel. Achieving the best of both worlds is not simple.

Here’s where travel platforms can provide support. As one-stop hubs, they define convenience in the palm of our hands. Having a robust selection of green transportation would not only amplify their appeal, but also potentially reshape consumer behaviour to prioritise sustainability.

Ample options, added incentive
Intra-regional travel has long been the bedrock of South-east Asia tourism and is expected to play a crucial role in the post-lockdown years. Research has shown that by 2024, there will be 56.6 million tourists travelling within the region, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of five per cent from 2019.

The travel industry is racing against time to reduce carbon emissions amid this strong rebound. There are encouraging signs. While jet fuels remain the primary choice, airlines are beginning to experiment with sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), which come from non-fossil sources.

Travel platforms have a golden opportunity to tap this nascent development. For instance, Malaysia Airlines’ first passenger flight using SAF began operations in June 2022. By offering the option of flying with brands that carry SAF, it positions them as industry leaders who are committed to meet global sustainable targets. This attracts environmentally conscious travellers to book on their platforms.

Doing so also displays an attention to consumers’ needs, given that in South-east Asia, between 28 to 57 per cent of travellers feel it is important to choose eco-friendly transportation modes. In a competitive market, choice reigns supreme, and travel platforms with the most options will win, but this requires solid partnerships that elevate their products and services.

The power of partnerships
Joining forces with sustainable transport providers is a critical step towards reducing carbon emissions. For one thing, such collaboration builds a more connected ecosystem by positioning travel platforms as a central node.

The resulting integration strengthens offerings, enticing travellers to select energy-efficient transportation, while also bringing more sustainable players into the wider global market. This is a win-win-win situation – consumers have a host of options to choose from, green transport firms can enter the mainstream, and the travel industry’s carbon footprint could potentially shrink.

Progress is steady in South-east Asia. Apart from Malaysia Airlines’ use of SAF, Singapore Airlines announced its testing of the fuel in July 2022. Singapore’s national carrier also offers travellers carbon offsets through an additional fee.

On the ground, interest in electric vehicles (EVs) is accelerating. The global market for EVs is forecasted to hit US$823.75 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 18.2 per cent from 2021 to 2030.

With car rentals an integral part of any travel platform, working with EV companies can unlock access to road trip enthusiasts who value sustainability. In fact, one of Traveloka’s most preferred airport transfer providers in Bangkok is an EV operator, which complements the rise in car rental firms offering EV options on our platform.

These partnerships send a strong signal to stakeholders in the travel industry that sustainable efforts help to realise an environmentally friendly form of travel.

Tap on technology, but challenges abound
One way to complement green transportation is through technology like artificial intelligence (AI). Travel tech firms have the capability to deploy AI, for example, to analyse data on peak hours and popular routes, and also provide accurate information on nearest car rentals, public transportation, and pickup points.

Route optimisation prevents excessive carbon emissions while offering consumers dynamic pricing for ride-hailing services. However, there are still challenges to overcome before we can fully transition into a sustainable industry.

AI can be a powerful tool, but the reality is that some functions like bus bookings in Indonesia and Vietnam, for example, are still predominantly offline. The first building block towards being environmental is to help companies digitalise for efficiency.

Most intercity bus operators in Indonesia still rely on offline sales and last-minute purchases, which makes it difficult for them to optimise their operations. In recent years, Traveloka has enabled them to go online and gain insights that improve capacity and route planning, as well as managing their passenger check-in and boarding processes. With digitalisation, we can build on sustainability in transportation.

Green transportation is no longer a choice but a necessity for preserving our planet. Travel platforms can drive this conversation by promoting eco-friendly travel options and facilitating the sector’s sustainable transformation.

The time to act is now, and together, we can create an equitable future for all.

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