Online tour bookings are projected to expand 50% in 2018-2020, almost twice as much as e-commerce, but this tourism segment will face many difficulties.
A 2017 survey of international tourists showed 71% of tourists search for online information, and 64% book and buy services online when traveling to Vietnam.
With the development of e-commerce and tourism, these proportions will be higher in the future.
According to online travel agency Tugo, the old travel business model has exposed issues related to product marketing and personnel.
Speaking at a workshop on online tourism in Hanoi last week, a representative of Tugo said travel firms have spent a lot on marketing but they have not been able to exactly measure the efficiency of their marketing plans.
To reach more customers, traditional travel firms need to increase branches, staff and costs. Thanks to new technology, Tugo has solved this issue, said the representative.
New technology has made it possible for Tugo to reduce missed calls and unprocessed tour bookings from over 60% to 25%, and has helped the firm generate more than VND400 billion in revenue after three years, he said.
Vo Anh Tai, deputy general director of Saigontourist Holding Company, said the firm has since 2004 embraced new technology to improve its competitiveness and gain access to more customers. In the past ten months, Saigontourist’s revenue from tours sold online has amounted to VND129 billion, he noted.
However, he said, selling tours online is an irreversible trend. Though Internet and smartphone penetration has surged at breakneck speed in recent years, online payments in Vietnam have remained limited.
Tai said the VND129 billion amount is a small fraction of Saigontourist’s total revenue in the period.
Vu The Binh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said barriers to online tour sales include the lack of a legal framework and advanced technology.