Since Covid-19, it's become a lot more common for attractions to feature digital innovations such as contactless payment methods, QR codes for capacity management and the use of facial recognition to receive membership benefits.
But this hasn't always been the case, and that conversion requires plenty of mindset change, according to Chan Chee Kong, COO and co-founder of GlobalTix, a technology provider in the tours and activities space.
“Initially it was more about just selling more tickets online. Now merchants are looking at capacity management such as scheduling tools, while others are increasingly looking at providing a seamless experience in a singular ticket from the purchase, booking of time slots to the actual onsite experience.”
GlobalTix technology deployed at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.
From marketplace distribution to an enterprise solution
This journey of change mirrors GlobalTix’s evolution, which started out as a marketplace distributor allowing OTAs to link to their platform and access products (attractions) for sale in 2016.
While this mode of business has been a success — it works with 2,000 travel agents and affiliate partners including airlines and banks for distribution — the technology provider soon saw a limitation.
“When doing market place distribution business, you cannot have connectivity if the end-merchant is not digital. There were points and still now where you’d have your e-ticket but still needed to call a number and book a slot with a telephone operator. Without digitalisation on the backend, merchants would not be able to scale fast digitally,” opined Chan.
With that realisation, GlobalTix started to build their own enterprise and SAAS solutions to help attraction or merchant owners digitalise.
“We had to massively convince merchants of our value proposition at first. But with Covid-19, pre-booking and the sale of open-ended dated tickets became practically a prerequisite; attractions started to realise the importance of capacity management and having a contactless experience in verifying tickets.
"With local tourists becoming the only source of business, they can also no longer rely on wholesalers to sell bulk tickets and need to be able to push out tickets on their own websites,” he said.
The first project saw them partnering NERF Action Xperience to manage their point of sale, gantry admissions, website and also actual guest experience areas.
Soon, their clientele grew to include other major attraction players such as National Gallery Singapore, Gardens by the Bay and Indonesia’s Borobudur temple.
Singapore's Gardens by the Bay has since 2020 introduced contactless check-in, membership applications, capacity control and more through Globaltix. Photo Credit: Instagram/javan
Different stages of digitalisation
In Indonesia, there has been a lot of “positive reaction” and plenty of discussions underway with attractions, but a lack of funding is a limitation, said Chan.
Conversely, Thailand is a slower market, but this is likely because of the uncertainty of the pandemic situation right now, causing attractions to be unsure of when they can operate.
While Singapore’s attractions are still only 20% digitalised, and “fairly behind” airlines and hotels, Chan believes that their digital progress has been significant.
He cited the example of Gardens by the Bay, which started engaging GlobalTix over last year and has since introduced contactless check-in, membership applications, capacity control and allowed guests to reschedule their own visits. These efforts were even featured in the World Economic Forum as a case study on how Singapore managed to reopen safely, he said.
Likewise, Wildlife Reserves Singapore also cut their physical checkpoints entirely, and for the upcoming Museum of Ice Cream, their intent is not to even have counters but rather, self-help kiosks when it opens in August. “On the whole, Singapore’s very forward-looking in adopting the various new technologies.”
Fund injection for the next lap
Last month, Tin Men Capital and Seeds Capital announced it would be injecting S$3 million (US$2.3 million) into GlobalTix to aid them in their quest to accelerate digitalisation for their travel partners.
Tin Men Capital had also previously pumped a S$12.5 million growth investment to help the Singapore-headquartered ticketing platform expand its presence in Asia.
With the extra funds, Chan believes they will be able to do more in three key areas: in-house technology, exploring partnerships, as well as growing their presence in key regional markets such as Malaysia and Vietnam.
“Technology is an ever-growing process. With the investment, we can look into working with IOT companies that monitor heat sensors, or integrating our solutions with facial recognition and eyeball checks that help count people on site. But a lot of our traditional partners still need boots on the ground, so we will also be increasing our staff strength across Southeast Asia.”