Using analytics to create value for the “invisible traveler”


20 November 2016
Chan Chee Chong and Chan Chee Kong of GlobalTix

How do you pin down the right price for a tour package? For an unlimited day pass, how do you cater, on the one hand, to the warrior tourist who can conquer seven attractions in one day and, on the other, the experiential tourist who is quite happy to savour things at a much more leisurely pace?

These are some of the questions that GlobalTix, a travel technology solutions company, is helping to answer through an electronic ticketing marketplace that brings together over 200 travel agents and a host of merchants ranging from Singapore Airlines and the Wildlife Reserves Group to Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice.

Speaking at the launch of Version 2.1 of the GlobalTix platform in November, co-founder and chief executive officer Chan Chee Chong (left in picture, with brother and co-founder Chan Chee Kong)  said in the face of disruptive services such as Grab and Airbnb, the tourism sector will need to transform itself or be left behind.

Today, the industry is dealing with the “invisible traveler”. “People are booking online, so you don’t get to see the customer. This tells us that physical tickets will be replaced by e-tickets, so we need to engage with customers online and pre-sell if possible.”

E-ticketing is one of the four pillars of the GlobalTix platform. It gives attractions and F&B outlets an “instant e-commerce avenue” to distribute e-tickets efficiently and also to promote their products on social media channels such as Facebook.

“If customer goes to the online store to make booking, he gets instant confirmation and receives the e-ticket on the mobile phone. And with just one single ticket, the entire family can go to all the attractions in Singapore,” said Chan.

The second pillar of GlobalTix is distribution and pricing, which is core to the travel business, he said. As an open marketplace, the cloud-based GlobalTix platform allows travel agents to negotiate their own prices with merchants and have these prices distributed instantly to local and overseas agents to drive sales. “You can have hundreds and thousands of price points. There is multi-pricing, multi-country, sub-agent pricing – no two agents are alike. But every agent will be able to log in to the system to see their own unique pricing.”

The third pillar of the platform is content bundling, to cater to new-age travelers clamouring for unique experiences. “It is no longer about selling the usual things. Travelers today demand customisation. Everybody has different needs.”

With GlobalTix, agents are able to create unique packages and push them out quickly. The platform caters not only to well-established attractions but also to local activities and smaller merchants such as Ya Kun Kaya Toast and Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice. The travel agent is thus able to package these together to deliver a unique visitor experience.”

The fourth pillar of GlobalTix’s electronic ticketing marketplace is data analytics. Chan gave the example of how insights from analytics enabled Singapore Airlines to customise its City Pass, which gives travelers flexibility as to what they want to do while in Singapore. The pass provides travelers with access to up to 40 attractions over a fixed number of days.

“What is interesting is that when you crunch data behind, you will know the average number of attractions visited using the pass – for example, 2.8 days for a one-day pass, 3.2 for a two-day pass, 6.1 for a three-day pass.”

The data also reveals other interesting nuggets, such as the most number of attractions visit by a single party of travelers in a day, which was seven. The family had started their day at 9.20 am with a cable car ride to Sentosa, went to Universal Studios at 10 am, and two hours later they were at the SEA Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa. After that, they took a taxi to the Singapore Flyer, went on the ride and then had a meal at the food street there. They then took another taxi, this time to the zoo, spent one and a half hours there, and then came out and went to the Night Safari.

While this was an extreme case of speed tourism, Chan’s point was that once the data can be captured, the travel partner (in this case Singapore Airlines) could have a better understanding of how the traveler profile could be related to their preferences and the number of attractions that they would go to on average. “This allows us to do the pricing and have customised City Passes that cater to travelers from different countries or regions.”

For example, despite the fact that tourists from China tended to prefer shopping and not “do nature”, the analytics uncovered the interesting fact that they did go to Gardens By The Bay, and so this came to be included in the City Pass for the China market.

The insights are also useful to travel partners in their marketing efforts, said Chan. “For example, we know that people tend to go for the river cruise before going to the Flyer. So as an attraction, you know where your guests are before they come, and so you have a better idea of where to put your marketing budget.”

The latest iteration of GlobalTix electronic ticketing marketplace comes as the company scales up to handle an explosion in the number of users. Since the platform was launched in 2014, there has been a five-fold increase in e-ticketing revenues to S$45-50 million annually, and this is projected to grow 10 times in the next three years. GlobalTix also plans to venture into about 20 cities across the region, in countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, in the next two to three years.