Earlier this year while traveling in Asia for both work and pleasure, I had the opportunity to catch up on some technological trends I enjoy following, and to compare social media and mobile usage between Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines.
When I had to make a last-minute flight change upon leaving Manila, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to re-book a flight on a local low-cost airline carrier through its mobile application just a few hours before departure time. The entire process took less than 10 minutes! I have traveled often throughout Southeast Asia over the past 15 years, and previously, if I wanted to purchase a ticket I had to either use an international global travel website, which required a 24-hour advance booking, or I had to find a local travel agent to make arrangements for me. Now, the adoption of mobile applications and social media in Asia appears to be picking up faster than in any other region in the world.
I saw this change in Thailand as well: at the tailor’s shop, which now encourages happy customers to rate their business on TripAdvisor. And my barber shop in Bangkok now has a Facebook page that seeks likes. When I checked into the hotel the front desk offered an alternative to the usual room key—guests can opt to lock and unlock their rooms via a smartphone app that uses Bluetooth technology.
Another surprise for me was the overwhelming connection between taxis in Hong Kong and Bangkok and smartphone users. No longer do you seem to hail a car with an outstretched arm. Simply order one on your phone and you can see in real time when it will arrive.
Over the last couple of years, I have witnessed an uptick in usage of mobile technology and social media throughout Southeast Asia, although some local mobile applications are less mature compared to U.S.-based companies. It does appear, however, that developers and businesses are quickly catching up, and mobile and social media advertising within Asia is much more prevalent.
Digital adoption and usage continues to grow apace around Southeast Asian nations, with Internet and social media usage increasing more than 15% year-on-year, according to a special report by global social marketing agency We are Social.
While these are positive moves, there are still improvements that need to be made in high speed mobile data and security as heavy data usage will require more 4G/LTE antennas and IT infrastructure across the region.
Director of Technology
© Matthews Asia