Effective Writing Skills
2017 Semester 1
ICA 3 Report
Andrade Ara Daniela Estrella 173579Q
Regine Poh Wei Wen 172708Y
Hwang Bowen X170047
Garesh Upadhya 174393L
18th July 2017
Table of contents:
1. Singapore Findings and Analysis 5
1.1 The Rise of Mobile Commerce 5
1.2 Business Profitability 6
1.3 Government Agencies 7
2. USA Findings and Analysis 8
2.1 Wider Geographical Pool of Consumers 8
2.2 Customer Service and Customer Satisfaction 10
2.3 Artificial Intelligence(AI) and multi-language (Expedia & Visit Orlando) 13
3. Conclusions 15
4. Recommendations 15
5. References 16-17
6. Appendices 18-21
Executive Summary of EFF.W.S Report
This report analyses ecommerce travel in both Singapore and USA. Focusing mainly on why ecommerce is growing in Singapore and why the ecommerce sector in USA is more successful than that of Singapore. However, our analysis does not cover B2B and B2G ecommerce.
Firstly, from our analysis, we have found that the rise of mobile phone usage has led to an increase in ecommerce, with ecommerce user penetration being 57.31%. Secondly, an estimated 10% growth in ecommerce profits has shown it to be a viable and highly profitable sector. Lastly, with help from government agencies through the Go Digital Programme, more Small Medium Enterprises will be able to partake in e commerce. Thus, with all these factors, e commerce has been significantly increasing in Singapore.
For the USA, they were more successful in ecommerce as they could reach a wider geographical pool of consumers, their websites were open to more countries and had multiple languages. Secondly, the websites were more customer friendly, allowing quick payment options which lessened the hassle of online shopping and lastly, using technology such as Artificial Intelligence and using messaging apps, companies in the US lessened their physical workload, can focus on other factors to improve their company and could attend to more customers.
We have concluded that e commerce travel is good channel for Singapore to earn more revenue and therefore they should focus more on ways to improve their ecommerce travel. E commerce websites should be more customer friendly so that they are more likely to patronise the company and using artificial intelligence and messaging apps is indeed a great convenience for both the company and the consumers.
Our recommendations for Singapore would include, opening their website to more countries and adding multiple languages so that they can have more consumers, optimising their website and making it more customer friendly. They should also offer complete travel services so that there is more convenience for the consumer, broaden the service channels and integrate them into social media platforms, provide digital wallet services to their customers for ease of payment and lastly, use Artificial Intelligence to serve customers efficiently and effectively.
Introduction of Singapore and US e-commerce market (Travel Sector):
The estimated worldwide ecommerce sales for 2017 is predicted to be 2.2 trillion USD. Businesses are growing digitally to cope with the rising number of online shoppers, enabling them to sell their products and services to a wider pool of consumers. Excluding the logistic industry, the booming development in online transactions and the appearance of online travel agencies foster the quick economic growth rate in mainly airline and hotel industry.
The tourism sector and businesses are also benefitting from travel e-commerce. According to the source (World Tourism Organization, March 2017 Barometer), global travel exports are valued at $1.5 trillion in 2016. The United States is, by far, the largest receiver among all with $246 billion, and almost half of the revenue, $122 billion, were initiated by travel e-commerce. Apparently, travel agencies have gained initiative in the travel industry and are keen to tap into the e-commerce market with the rise of website and apps like Expedia, Trivago and TripAdvisor.
The objective of this report is to help Singapore grow their digital businesses in the travel industry. By considering the USA travel e commerce market, companies in Singapore can learn from them to grow their digital businesses and cater to the increasing demand from consumers more efficiently and effectively.
The report will focus on travel e-commerce in Singapore and United States. Thus, it will mainly cover the airline industry. However, the hotel industry may be mentioned as they are correlated. The report is not covering B2C travel e-commerce industry only.
As there is limited information about Singapore’s e-commerce in the travel sector, we spend large amounts of time to find the secondary data. The report is not covering the B2B and B2G e-commerce industry.
Sources and methods of data collection
A secondary research was conducted through various search engines such as books, newspaper articles, databases, e-journals, e-books, internet resources such as Google. However, primary research was not done in this report.
Findings & Analysis:
Singapore’s e-commerce market
1.) The rise of mobile-commerce
With high smartphone penetration and internet coverage in Singapore (as seen in figure 1 below), it provides a fertile ground to provide easy accessibility for online travel agencies and airline websites. Moreover, itineraries can be more personalised to cater to consumer’s needs conveniently via travel apps and websites such as Wego and the Singapore Airlines App.
Singapore Internet Statistics and Telecommunications
4,699,204 Internet users as of June 2016, 81.3% of the population, according to ITU.
According to Go-Global 2016, Singapore’s e-commerce user penetration was at 57.31% in 2015 and is expected to hit 74.20% by 2020. Revenue in Singapore’s e-commerce in 2016 had a spiralling growth and finished with 3994 million USD, which is twice in number compared to 2010. Traveling (Air-tickets & hotel booking) and clothing were the top two categories. Due to the rising demand for the travel industry among online consumers, it is imperative that companies in the travel sector heavily invest in their information technologies to have a competitive edge among other competitors.
Based on figure 2 (Based on Capturing the Asian Millennial traveller)
In Singapore where online retail space and infrastructure are better established:
Online air ticket purchases were as high as 71% while online booking of accommodations is 66%.
This shows that travel e-commerce is popular among Singaporeans. Also, service provider websites are the most preferred choice than travel aggregator and online sources.
2) Business profitability
Travel e-commerce in Singapore has enabled Singapore’s businesses to maximise profits while providing the best services for their customers. It helps the business to earn huge revenue as it bypasses intermediaries and offers services directly to end consumers.
Based on the diagram below, in Southeast Asia (SEA) the e-commerce and travel sector will grow an estimated 10% in profits from 2015 to 2025. This shows that e-commerce travel is constantly growing and there is an increasing demand for E-Commerce in Singapore’s travel industry.
E-commerce SEA: Unlocking the $200 billion digital opportunity in Southeast Asia by Google and Temasek,2017
The Singapore government is helping companies to improve e-commerce in Singapore. Based on the Straits Times article on 23rd February 2017, the government will roll up and invest 80M SGD to SMEs Go digital programme in 2017 Singapore Budget Speech. The aim of SMEs Go digital programme is to help SMEs build digital capabilities.
Moreover, grants are open to Singapore registered companies to encourage technological innovation and adoption, redesign business models and processes in the travel sector to improve productivity and competitiveness. For e.g.: Business Improvement Fund (BIF) provided by Singapore Tourism Board.
An overview of BIF is given as shown in the diagram below:
USA Airline E-commerce Market:
1) Wider geographical pool of consumers
US E-commerce can attract a wider geographical pool of consumers from many countries with diverse needs and age groups. As businesses are no longer constrained by geographical limitations of physical stores, they can sell travel and other related products easily to more customers locally and overseas through Ecommerce channels.
For e.g.: The Priceline Group, INC. It is an American based travel company, operating in over 225 countries and territories via online and is available in more than 43 languages.
As Priceline enables users to book and compare airline tickets, make accommodation and road-railing reservations, consumers can easily plan the entire trip. Having acquired sites like Agoda.com and Booking.com, Priceline provides a wider range of travel information. With Priceline’s collaboration with TripAdvisor, consumers can instantly book their trips rather than wait for the 24-hour booking confirmation from other sites.
Figure 4: Strong operating performance of gross bookings from 2008-2016:
Largest increase of $12.6B USD (i.e. 23% increase) of gross bookings from $55.5B USD in 2015 to $68.1B USD in 2016.
Priceline Group, 2017.
Figure 5: Strong operating performance of hotel bookings from 2008-2016:
Largest increase of $125M USD (i.e. 29% increase) of million room nights booked across PCLN from 2015-2016.
Priceline Group, 2017.
Ways Singapore e-commerce in the travel industry can learn from the USA
Singapore companies can widen their geographical pool of consumers in the travel e-commerce sector by having more publicity through advertisements and celebrity endorsements in various platforms such as Facebook, twitter, and YouTube.
For e.g.: Wego is not an internationally recognised due to its lack of publicity as compared to competitors such as Priceline and Trivago.
Moreover, Singapore e-commerce can improve their online websites and apps. For e.g.: Wego is available in 20 languages while Priceline is available in over 43 languages. Moreover, Wego is only accessible in 52 countries while Priceline is available in over 225 countries. Thus, these factors limit consumers from accessing Singapore e-commerce and prefer to use internationally recognised websites such as Expedia, Priceline and Trivago.
2) Customer satisfaction and customer service
US companies are aware that the crux to stand out among competitors serve customer with attentive care. Pursuant to OuterBox 2017, U.S. online shoppers spend USD$327 million in 2016, up almost 45% from 2015.
US online travel agencies emphasise online responsiveness to ensure their online platforms are primed for online shoppers. For e.g. American Airline’s customer service channel.
In 2011, American Airline’s social communication retired their social channel which was previously handled by a PR firm. They decided to better understand their customers through direct supervision. (See through figure 6) The strategy was to know the customer experience via authentic communication and real-time resolution. In 2013, they switched their social channel, to Twitter and Facebook to form a 24/7 service channel.
Figure 6: American Airlines customer report chat room
Not only wanting to help consumers with their needs but also find out the leaking bucket in their business. CheapOair, founded in 2005 in NYC as a subsidiary of Fareportal, is already now one of the top five online travel agents.
CheapOair, at the inception, they found elderlies are often left at home when family go on overseas trips, soon they recognized this as a niche in the market and decided to serve the senior citizens (Refer to figure 7). It thereafter became the flagship of CheapOair. In the financial report of 2015, it showed that 83% of customers are willing to return to the firm’s service that other travel agencies do not supply; eventually, the services that CheapOair had put in the niche market has helped the firm to launch a huge step in their business.
Figure 7: Elders tickets discount, CheapOair
Alternatively, digital payment services such as Apple Pay and Visa checkout is offered. Customers are not required to fill in any forms before making payment, they can use their Touch ID to approve the transactions. With such services, customers can buy tickets and book hotels “one-handedly” increasing the convenience for them. For example, Virgin America offers Visa checkout. With a Visa Checkout account, customers do not need to type their address and re-enter their card number for transactions if the website supports Visa Checkout.
Ways Singapore e-commerce in the travel industry can learn from USA
According to STB (Singapore Tourism Board) 2016, there is a 15.2M international visitors’ arrivals. The service satisfaction index scored an average of 67.8 point, a drop from 70 in 2015. Tourism receipts (TR) declined 7.6 % over 2015 to S$21.8B.
The research assessed on customer’s experience, including characteristics such as travel agencies’ and airlines’ accessibility, responsiveness and confidentiality. The results showed that Singapore’s service standards are dropping.
Due to personnel constraints, customers experience long waiting times on the phone, and some complain that they are unable to even find an appropriate channel to report. Thus, using another competitor’s service instead.
Moreover, users often have trouble accessing customer services’ channels.
For e.g.: Wego. Customers would have trouble to find out its email address and wait for several working days before receiving a reply.
Lastly, analysing customer reviews and satisfaction are conducive to probe into new markets. USA travel agency CheapOair offer customers more diverse choices including pet and elderly friendly accommodation and discounted tickets. These initiatives increase more profits and customer recognition.
3) Artificial Intelligence(AI) and multi-language (Expedia & Visit Orlando)
Artificial Intelligence in USA have been gaining popularity and is integrated into the travel industry. For e.g. Expedia has a Facebook Messenger bot and a Skype bot. Based on customers’ needs, Expedia will give suggestions of various hotel bookings and customers can make hotels’ bookings quickly. The Facebook Messenger bot is available worldwide to facilitate customers queries.
Expedia introduced its Skype bot as it wanted to help customers who have more complex travel itinerary that includes booking, cancelling or updating plans. Expedia is the first chatbot on Skype to connect to a travel agent within the platform for free.
Expedia bot on Skype iOS app, Expedia.com Expedia bot on Facebook Messenger app, Expedia.com
On the other hand, Visit Orlando is one of the first tourism boards to integrate AI into various platforms to answer more complex travel searches such as the best brunch spots.
Visit Orlando operates its web page with 15 different languages and multilingual staff serve all year round to support its live chat customer service (as shown in figure 8 & 9). This allows the corporation to fulfil the customer's’ requirements and answer the tourists in other languages. To satisfy customers’ needs while travelling, the priority for the travel sector industry in Singapore is that they must ensure that the customers will be comfortable for the whole trip.
Figure 8-Visit Orlando’s multilingual service
Ways Singapore can learn from the USA
Singapore can further improve their artificial intelligence by improving software and having robots to facilitate the e-commerce travel industry. Moreover, government can provide assistance by giving more useful information such as raising awareness of grants, loans and subsidies available in the respective Singapore government agencies for the start-ups, medium sized and large corporations. This assistance would encourage more Singapore’s companies in the travel sector to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) and technology in their daily routines. Thus, this would enable them to stay relevant in the current, competitive industry.
The purpose of using AI powered consultants is to handle queries more effectively and efficiently. As AIs are more capable of interacting with customers in various languages, it will shorten customer’s waiting time and the whole operation process. The airline industry should integrate more AI features into their services, and recruit language specialists/ a third party (e.g. translation agency) to ensure the correct use of language with customers. Although developing a complete AI system could be costly, companies will be saving a large amount of money in the long run. Moreover, AI provides extreme convenience for tourists from various parts of the world.
1. Singapore e-commerce has hit almost $4000 USD in 2016 and is expected to be doubled by 2000. Flight tickets and hotel bookings were ranked in the top two categories for e-commerce revenue.
2. By 2025, in Southeast Asia, e-commerce, which includes clothing, electronics, household goods, and travel (hotel, flight, road hailing) will together contribute to more than 90 percent of the total retail spend.
3. The Singapore government are investing massive amounts of money to help SMEs implement their digital business. For e.g. Government will roll up and invest 80M SGD to SMEs Go digital programme in the 2017 Singapore Budget Speech and BIF, a grant, provided by STB.
4. In the US market, it has been proven that travel agencies who serve a wider geographical pool of consumers receive more revenue.
5. By optimising travel websites such as CheapOair and American Airlines, it was proved that there is an increase in the usage of these online travel platforms.
6. It was found that using messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and Skype, it has increased a lot of convenience for online consumers.
1. Widen the geographical pool of customers in the travel sector of Singapore by making their online travel sites and apps available in more countries
2. Provide multilingual services for customers of different nationalities. E.g. Visit Orlando not only offer English and Mandarin, which are the most spoken languages, but also other languages like Spanish, Portuguese, and French...etc.
3. Offer complete services for any ancillary requirements that could happen in the itinerary. For e.g. CheapOair helps their customers to find a pet friendly hotel so that people can take care of their pets also during the trip.
4. Broaden Singapore’s online customer service channels by integrating them into more social media platforms such as WhatsApp, LINE, WeChat and Kakaotalk.
5. Singapore should embrace mobile payment and digital wallet services in the travel industry. For e.g. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. Such cashless payments would increase the convenience of consumers.
6. Increase the use of Artificial Intelligence technology to serve more customers effectively and efficiently. For e.g. The hotel and airlines industry can analyse caller's’ tone, tempo, keywords and grammar to direct calls to agents with the required skills to assist in customers’ queries. This helps to reduce the waiting times of customers significantly.
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Google and Temasek. E-Commerce SEA: Unlocking The $200 Billion Digital Opportunity In Southeast Asia. Google And Temasek, 2017, p. 8,
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Ara Andrade 173579Q
From writing this business report, I have learnt that report writing is not easy and requires a lot of researching. The process is meticulous as all the points we have made must be justified with evidence. Looking for evidence is a hassle as the E-journals and business reports found online can be quite long winded and you may miss the very information you are looking for if you just skim through them.
However, writing this report was a very eye-opening experience and I get the feeling of being in a workplace, having to churn out a report for my boss. The assignment has also improved my vocabulary as writing a report would require more flowery language, I also became more aware of my grammar mistakes.
Furthermore, from this report regarding e commerce, I did not know that e commerce, especially the travel sector would be such a money-making machine for Singapore. I got to read about travel e commerce companies in Singapore, some which I didn’t even know existed. The report has also made me explore USA’s own e commerce industry and I see how sites I patronised in the past for example, Expedia make their website more attractive to customers. I also learnt how to read the customer's mind by accessing those company’s websites and checking how customer friendly they were. I even communicated with the AIs that websites used to chat with customers. Through this I was able able to know what customers want which leads me to give effective recommendations for Singapore’s own e commerce industry.
I now have more travel websites to visit when I plan to book a holiday as this report has helped me with that. As e commerce is a good money making channel for Singapore, I hope they take advantage of this and improve the services they provide and become successful like the USA.
Regine Poh Wei Wen 172708Y
Through this project, I have learned that report writing is a skill that is essential in our daily lives. Good report writing skills would allow me to articulate my ideas more effectively. Thus, possessing the ability to persuade and influence readers successfully in a business environment.
While researching on our report topic: Travel sector in Singapore and USA, I have learnt how to use various online resources such as Google Scholar, LexisNexis Universe and Ebscohost to research on our topic. Using these online resources give detailed and reliable information to our readers. Using effective search skills also enables us to find the necessary information quickly.
As I was researching on the findings and analysis on Singapore, we encountered some problems. As Singapore is a small country, it has limited data and statistics to prove our analysis. Thus, our group spend quite a lot of time to research from various resources so that we can find the desired statistics.
On the contrary, researching on USA is easier as there are more information relating to their travel industry. I found out that travel e-commerce in USA is more successful and more competitive compared to Singapore. Travel e-commerce in USA attracts a wider geographical pool of consumers, has better customer services and increases the usage of technology
(e.g. Artificial Intelligence).
While drafting the whole report, I must constantly make sure that I have properly cite and reference the sources that I have used to avoid plagiarism. I also ensure that I have apply the 5Cs into the report. However, I find it challenging to apply all the 5Cs into the report as compared to ICA 1 and ICA 2.
In conclusion, I think that there are still room for improvement in Singapore’s Travel e-commerce. Through learning from other countries who achieved success in the travel’s e-commerce industry I believe that Singapore’s travel e-commerce will become more successful over the years.
Hwang Bowen X170047
This report is aimed to have us conduct an in-depth research on Singapore’s travel e-commerce sector, and compare with and scout out what the industry can learn from United State’s travel e-commerce. United States’ travel e-commerce has its advantage in the country’s population, geographical site, business portfolio...and so on, Singapore can adopt some of the ideas and strategy.
Prior to doing this business report, there wasn’t much chance to bring the theories learned in the module notes into practical application. During the report writing, one of the biggest challenge was to apply one of the 5Cs-concise into the report itself since travel e-commerce covers a wide range and diverse sectors. Therefore, I found that data research and insert findings and graphs are indispensable and conducive to our report analysis and typesetting.
Starting from the introduction and Singapore e-commerce research, we found significant numbers in its recent years’ revenue and the technologies that are used to help online transactions to facilitate its publicity and implementation. What is more, Singapore governments also put into investments to SMEs and online transaction systems to cater to customer consuming trends and also save up money in practical shops.
As we assess to US travel e-commerce, we found out that US market extend to worldwide customers with a larger geographical pool of service in their online travel agencies, and also offer an encompassing service like digital payment, multilingual customer services, customize service (e.g. pet hotels, road hailing)...etc. Most of all, live customer service and 24/7 report systems are in faster reply and more easily to approach; in that, the firm is more likely to bond customer loyalty to its own business for good.
In my opinion, since Singapore is a fast growing country and with its rapid pace, Singapore is able to attract more business and tourism to come over, and this generates lofty revenue to the travel industry. Undoubtedly, Singapore has been doing extremely well in e-commerce sector. Nevertheless, with the tech-savvy era, it is important that companies prepared themselves and study on cases and others’ success.
Garesh Upadhya 174393L
What I have learnt from this topic is how Singapore still needs to build before she gets onto the levels of technology which can directly compete with other overpowering countries like United States of America (USA) but Singapore would not be done justice as we do not have a wider geographical pool of consumers as compared to US. I also found out how to read specific tales like the singapore tourism board (STB) table. I also realised how much money and effort countries like singapore put into the country itself to grow and especially with stereotypes saying the government is not doing much for the country.
The points that we accumulated in this topic has showed me how Singapore airline services can be lacking in terms of technology, research and development (R&D). We also see the lack of getting new technologies implemented as we don’t properly estimate the power of what more recent technology can do.
My team and I also realised how much easier it was to find information about the US compared Singapore this then made it a little harder for us to find more information about the technologies and methods used by airlines here in Singapore.
During the report writing we had a little bit of trouble on how to organize and distribute duties as some were not free on certain days to be able to do the project together. After a week or two we were able to communicate better with the help of in-class research that we were able to conduct and that only helped us boost our confidence in the report we were writing. We went through a few hurdles as it was getting a little more tiresome on finding other points to talk about as most of the points we directly or indirectly related.
Nonetheless we were able to come together to find information on time and we had work done according to the timeline we had set for ourselves.
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