Yeoh Siew Hoon’s travel tech insights. Director of Northstar Travel Media Asia, Web in Travel founder | Digital Asia

By @SimonCocking

How did you find Dublin as a city, and in context of Phocuswright travel event?

I've always loved Dublin from my first visit in the early 90s. Found it to be full of cheerful men who like to drink and tell stories. I remember watching Van Morrison live as well, so that really left an impression.

The cheerful men who like to drink and tell stories are still there now, but I find it a lot more vibrant and contemporary today. Especially in the dockland area where I stayed and where the IT companies are headquartered. I can feel Dublin is trying to reinvent itself.

I explored this transition in my article.

When I was there, campaigning for the same sex votes was in full swing and it felt good to be part of history in the making. In the area where I spent most of my time, you could tell which way the vote was going to go.

Your take on travel tech trends?

Fast changing and will be even faster changing now with the smartphone. In , China, Japan and South Korea are moving soon into mobile-only markets. In India, Flipkart has announced it will shut down its website in a year. In emerging Asia – Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines – mobile has leapfrogged the desktop.

This is changing the way consumers plan, book, experience and share travel.

What are you excited about?

The rise of Asia and the fact that the region is finally being taken seriously by major travel brands, and not just as an outpost.

Skyscanner's CEO Gareth Williams says it best in this interview with WIT.

For travel brands going global, Asia's become the difference between growth and stagnation in the next few years.

What this means is the entry of top talent into our region – which blended with local experts – can only mean good things for people who want to better themselves through travel and learning.

It also means great timing for WIT to have its message heard and accepted by the world – we are all about Asia, all about online travel.

How was 2014 for you? Anything you'd do differently?

It's so far back now that I can't recall. Time flies by so fast these days. You hardly have time to look back and then you're already looking ahead to the next opportunity. Overall, it was a good year – we launched our event in Middle East, what an big and exciting market; our events in Indonesia and Japan were well-attended as was our signature conference in Singapore in October – record attendance of 550 last year.

If there was one thing I wished I had done – I wished I could have held more events!!

What could be good in travel tech, but will not be around as quickly as we'd like it to be?

Virtual Reality – I think it's the next frontier in travel content and inspiration. People are so desensitized these days to pictures and videos. We see them all the time on our social feeds that it's all become a blur – and we need the next jolt to our senses, and true immersive VR content could do it. Problem is, the devices are still not mass market yet but once the iPhone equivalent of VR devices is launched, then the age of VR will be upon us.

I've tried it, and it's pretty impressive. Here's my take on it.

 The much higher level of social usage among young people in your part of the world, do you think west will move to similar patterns, or do Asian cultural factors mean it follows a different pattern of usage?

I can't comment on European cultural norms but yes, in Asia we are a bit over the top on social. I can't get through a dinner without someone taking their phone out to take photos of the food and then they must post it instantly before they eat.

I don't know what it is – perhaps it's because we grew up in villages – it's really just in one generation that post-modern Asia has moved from villages to high rises – and we miss the physical connection.

I was in Vietnam last week and someone commented that in previous years, Vietnamese travellers would ask about safety first, today, they ask, where can I get wifi or a local data card?

All destinations who want Asian travellers should have local data cards for sale at airports.

You're not very active on twitter, which social media platforms do you prefer, if any?

I'm not active personally but I tweet through @WebInTravel.

Life / work balance your strategies?

Is there such a thing these days? Life bleeds into work these days and as a writer, I've never had this strict divide between life and work. It's an occupational hazard – everywhere I travel to, there's always a story, people to learn from. Ideas are always floating in my head so there's no on and off button I can switch and say, this is business, this is pleasure.

I think the key thing is to have things that interest and stimulate you – so for me, it's music, books, movies, walks. I love “walking meetings“ – it's a good way to brainstorm. Walking keeps you grounded while your imagination flies.

What else should we have asked you? Or you'd like to add?

Why haven't I changed my name to an English name so it'd be easier to pronounce for Western folk?

When I got my first byline in TTG Asia (a travel trade publication I started with in my career as a journalist), the English editor asked me if I could change my name, have a Western name so people could pronounce it.

I said no. “It's my name and people should learn how to say it if it's important to them.” Imagine if I was now called Lucy Yeoh – how ordinary. My name is Yeoh Siew Hoon, and my first name “Siew Hoon” means “Gentle Cloud”.

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