Jakarta. Indonesia's second national meeting on tourism, named "Cultural Village Homestay Incorporated: 20,000 Homestays for 2017," convened on Thursday (18/05) and centered on the industry's transformation in the face of emerging digital services.
Business expert and University of Indonesia professor Rhenald Kasali elaborated on the positive impacts of what Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has labelled ‘digital disruption’ in the ballroom of the Bidakara Hotel in South Jakarta.
Rhenald said the emergence of digital services will ultimately transform the country's tourism industry as more and more Indonesians become wired to mobile applications.
"Everything has changed now. In 2010, we spoke of transformation. In 2015, we spoke of disruption, and there were greater changes. Without realizing, many conventional workers have lost their jobs, like bank tellers," Rhenald said.
"The old game is over. The battle has now shifted into the digital world.
"The ghost of current businessmen is the fixed cost of salaries, electricity and operational fees. Therefore, payment systems have changed [...] people used to be afraid of someone stealing their vehicle, but in the future, they will be more afraid of others stealing their passwords or remotes."
In today's business climate, customers demand simpler, cheaper and faster services or products since the advent of digital technologies. This, Rhenald says, is the impact of digital disruption and the rise of innovative business solutions.
The professor compared the successful business models of online ride-hailing services such as Grab or Gojek with conventional taxi companies that require massive operational budgets to cover salaries, taxi pools and other charges.
"Consumers have changed. If your business stays within the old pattern, it will be left out," he said.
Rhenald cites new interactive technologies, as well as shifting demographics, increased urbanization and democratization as triggers for the new business climate.
"Currently, many of our youth are travelling to cities, where their expectations and outlooks will be transformed," Rhenald said.
Homestays across the archipelago, Rhenald affirmed, must adapt to the changing digital landscape. London, the professor cited, boasts as many as 2,000 digital-friendly homestays, while China offers accommodation coupled with traditional cuisines, all of which are marketed online.
"My advice is for the Tourism Ministry to recruit more youngsters, as they will carry us into the future," Rhenald said.