“AI revolutionises our understanding of travellers seeking unique experiences”
ITB Asia News spoke to Boon Sian Chai, Managing Director and Vice President, International Markets Trip.com Group, in an exclusive interview
He discussed the latest consumer travel trends as well as the use of AI for creating products and content.
How is traveller behaviour evolving?
We observe several trends. Many tourists are exploring more off-the-beaten-track destinations, including rural tourism and untraveled destinations such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Sri Lanka or Kenya. Private tours, with independent groups and flexible itineraries, are particularly popular. Wellness tourism is also more popular, including activities such as yoga, meditation, spa and holistic health experiences.
Consumption is moving towards high-quality services and in-depth travel encounters. Staycations have surged with the desire for localised experiences. This shift towards experiential travel will become a defining feature for the years to come. Finally, sustainable travel has also emerged as another prominent trend: over 16 million individuals chose our company’s low-carbon products.
How is Trip.com Group attempting to adapt to travellers’ evolving needs ?
We remain focused on diversifying our product and service. Our high-value package deals offer more than 8,000 high-end hotels matching customers’ needs. Meanwhile, our lower-tier city penetration strategy pays off. We enhance our product coverage, pricing, and customer acquisition, which attracts many new customers. We have also invested heavily in content marketing around product and tech innovation. We upgraded our travel lists to provide customised travel recommendations, including Trip.Trends, Trip.Best and Trip.Deals. These lists deliver real-time information on the latest travel trends, prices, and top-ranked hotels, flights, and attractions. We also continually improve Trip Moments, an immersive UGC platform that connects our traveller community with recommendations, reviews and useful travel information.
What role can AI play in meeting the traveller’s demand for unique experiences?
AI revolutionises our understanding of travellers seeking unique experiences. By fundamentally reshaping our societal behaviours and perceptions, AI is driving us to explore new avenues of customer engagement, both in pre- and post-booking searches. Thanks to AI technology, we now have the ability to glean insights from travellers that pave the way for smarter and more accurate solutions. Our AI-powered travel assistant, TripGenie, fosters authentic conversations, yielding a wealth of information about each traveller. In an ideal scenario, our vision is to use AI to provide each of our customers with a uniquely tailored solution.
What innovations is Trip.com Group looking to invest in the future?
It is key to understand that individual travellers have their own demands and behaviourial patterns, seeking efficient and personalised solutions to plan their trips. We have been establishing an infrastructure of AI-generated content production to enhance our content quality and improve efficiency. In the future, we will continue to invest in and develop the latest tools to ultimately improve the booking experience for both our customers and partners. We envision integrating the AI assistant TripGenie with voice-activated devices like smart speakers and voice recognition technology to create a more natural and user-friendly experience.
Trip.com Group leverages content marketing to attract travellers
The rise of social media and digital wallets has reshaped consumer behaviour, making them content-savvy. Their behaviour and preferences are heavily dependent on recommendations and trends online. Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to capture this emerging demand.
Trip Moments Community, a UGC platform of Trip.com has seen the number of global community members posting content increase by 287% YoY. Engaged by 35% of app users, the platform attracts and retains users and influencers: 22% of them book a product within just a month.
Trip.com Group has also established an infrastructure for AI-generated content production. This initiative enriches advertising creatives with AIGC elements, and is a supplement to a content creation pipeline for enhanced quality and efficiency. One of Trip.com Group’s latest content initiatives is a curated series of travel lists, which are driving substantial business growth.
While online travel agencies have traditionally served as transaction platforms for travel products, Trip.com Group recognises a burgeoning opportunity for a distinct ecosystem with an all-in-one-app. It facilitates product and service purchases, but also serves as a recommendation hub for customers.