While a considerable number of Vietnamese travelers are planning their trips online, few local travel companies have tapped into this lucrative market, insiders said at a conference on Tuesday.
Websites or online services helping travelers to prepare for their trips via a mouse click is “a gold mine left unexploited” in Vietnam, experts have said at an event jointly held by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper and Google.
Trinh Quang Chung, industry manager of Google Asia Pacific, said Vietnam currently has 47.7 million Internet users, most of whom search travel information, destinations and other related services as part of their daily habit.
Chung underlined this statistic with the fact that more Vietnamese are using mobile phones for their online trip planning than U.S. users.
Forty-eight percent of Vietnamese users search for hotel bookings on the Internet, compared to 18 percent in the U.S., according to the Google representative. Similarly, the ratio of Vietnamese and American users looking for travel information online is 42 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
However, Google experts told the conference that despite this great potential, it has yet to be taken advantage of by Vietnamese businesses.
Ha Lam Tu Quynh, Country Communications and PR lead with Google Asia Pacific, said that there are more than 260 million people in Southeast Asia with Internet access, all potential customers of travel companies.
“However, most Vietnamese companies have developed their websites with little attention to what the users really need, nor the platform’s information optimization or a user friendly experience,” Quynh explained.
The need to go mobile
Vietnamese travel websites takes an average of ten seconds to load, which Google suggested should be improved, given that a DoubleClick study recently revealed that 53 percent of visitors leave a site if its page-load time is longer than three seconds.
Chung, the Google expert, put the emphasis on the need for travel websites to go mobile.
“If a travel firm does not have a mobile presence, or delivering mobile users a slow experience, they are passing on the chance to create an advantage over their competitors,” Chung said.
Mobile platforms will allow even a small Vietnamese tour operator to reach customers worldwide. “This is why Google is offering tools and programs to help Vietnamese companies make the most use of mobile,” he added.
Quynh advised that local companies start by setting up a good website which meets three criteria: mobile friendly, fast page-load time and a good user experience.
With Google providing technical assistance to local travel firms, Tuoi Tre can alsot assist through effective media solutions.
Tuoi Tre will support travel firms by promoting them, especially those with eco-friendly tourism products, both in print and online editions, Deputy Editor-in-Chief Le Xuan Trung said at the conference.
The newspaper can also act as a bridge linking small to medium sized tourism operators with regulatory bodies, help them resolve bureaucratic difficulties and boost their overall development.