On 16 May, WiT will be back in Amsterdam, putting the spotlight on Asia and for the first time, Middle East. For companies looking for new growth, these two regions are critical for the future. 

In the past four months, we have held events in Malaysia, Dubai and Seoul and one thing’s for sure, a lot is happening in both regions, developments you cannot afford to ignore if you want to grow your business. 

Superapps lead the way in influencing Chinese outbound

China may be slowing down but there are plenty of pockets of opportunities to tap the rapidly changing outbound market. Superapps like Alipay and WeChat are expanding their eco-systems and, in so doing, giving Chinese travellers more confidence to venture beyond tried and tested paths. 

Alibaba Group, which is on an aggressive globalisation strategy, is out to spread fun through travel by integrating Fliggy and Alipay. In 2018, the group served 642m consumers, by 2036, it plans to serve two billion consumers – that means, wherever the Chinese traveller goes, it intends to be there. 

(Read this article for a summary of what’s happening across Asia)

This week’s news that Emaar, the name behind the iconic Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall and several thriving residential communities in Dubai, has launched the first-ever WeChat Mini-Program for a leisure attraction in the region is indicative of the moves suppliers are making to make it easier for Chinese travellers. 

The service is fully integrated with WeChat Pay for At the Top, Burj Khalifa and as part of the WeChat ecosystem, the Mini-Program enables WeChat users to access all the information on the world’s highest observation deck and book tickets in advance. 

What will this mean for tours & activities companies to whom attraction tickets are one of the best sellers?  

Solving payment problems will open up Middle East even more to global brands

Sticking with the Middle East, we are seeing payment challenges resolved by companies like Checkout.com which this morning announced a raise of $230m in what is Europe’s largest fintech Series A round ever, and globally the third largest fintech Series A round of all time. 

This gives the company more resources to open up the Middle East region further to global online travel brands struggling with a fragmented payment landscape in the region.

The outbound market in Middle East remains strong and robust, with Saudi Arabia a key contributor. Couple of things you need to know – it’s a very last minute market and mobile rules.