Vacation is big business and consumers are increasingly looking online when it comes to booking and planning their holidays.
In an e-mail interview, we recently had a chat with Vincent Ong, vice president of marketing at Club Med East and South Asia and Pacific on how the Internet and technology in general has changed the landscape for consumers who want the best out of their holidays.
According to Vincent, more than one third of Club Med’s business from Malaysia and Singapore come from online bookings.
However, online booking is only part of the company’s long term plan to utilise technology to increase brand loyalty and ensure return visits from customers.
Today, the company has a number of digital initiatives that includes interacting with customers through digital and social channels, virtual reality videos and mobile apps that allow potential customers to experience what Club Med has to offer.
For example, the company has released a number of virtual reality videos over the years which are used in conjunction with Samsung Gear VR headsets during travel fairs which help customers experience just what it is like to have a “Club Med experience.”
Ong says that plans are already in place to allow for even more interactivity in virtual reality when its resorts are scanned in using Google Street View technology, which will allow customers to take their own virtual tour around Club Med resorts.
When it comes to booking holidays, mobile devices are the primary tool for purchasing decisions, where mobile penetration in Asia is much higher than in Europe.
“We have data that tells us that of Malaysians with smartphones, two thirds have made a purchase through their mobile,” said Ong.
Online booking and social interaction aren’t the only areas where technology plays a part however – Club Med recently introduced a Digital Bracelet system which is currently undergoing trials at its resorts in the Maldives.
The Digital Bracelet is a waterproof wristband that has an embedded NFC chip which is meant to be worn by the guest at all times.
Made to be hardy enough to withstand not just being dunked in the bath, but also when the guest is engaging in sports like water-skiing, the bracelet performs multiple functions within the resort.
At its most basic, it allows guests to unlock their room doors with a wave of the hand.
However, it also allows for card-less payments for various goods and services at the resort, where the user only needs to touch their bracelets to mobile readers to make a payment at the resort.
“Consumers today have expectations on personalised experiences and digital innovation will help deliver on their expectations,” says Ong.