The Disrupt Asia Conference and Technology Innovation Festival is Sri Lanka’s one-of-a-kind conference organized by the Information Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka. The event, held for the 4th consecutive year, is aimed at showcasing and promoting Tech startups and Small and Medium Sized Entrepreneurs (SMEs).
Disrupt Asia 2019, held at Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre, was attended by nearly 350 startups, entrepreneurs, corporates, students and media. There were 24 speakers featuring five panel discussions.
Attracting major attention because of the crisis in the tourism industry was The Travel Tech: Travel Smart panel. This featured panellists Rachel Bartholomuesz of Airbnb, Sarah Mathews of Tripadvisor, Hifnaz Jiffry of YOHO and Mirko Behnert of Vorsprung Digital. It was moderated by Andrew Jebaraj from Sri Lanka Holiday Guru, a venture of Rocketeer Labs Pvt Ltd.
The panel focused on the need for businesses to adapt to the fact that the travelling experience is increasingly referenced on-the-go via portable devices. It also discussed the opportunities of Big Data analysis of consumer usage for better understanding of tourism flow, customer behaviour and prediction of future travel trends in the tourism market.
The panel shared their thoughts and case studies on how the technology-related megatrends can determine the future of tourism in Sri Lanka. Panellists emphasised how travel-related technology enables personalised, connected and sustainable travel.
The panellists presented case studies on how each of them is adapting to the change in promoting the travel industry in Sri Lanka and how to go global while localizing in each country.
Jeffrey from Yohobed.com, Sri Lankan fastest growing hospitality chain, explained how YOHO localizes support and bookings for travellers while improving the standards of guest properties in Sri Lanka.
Andrew Jebaraj, an experienced tech entrepreneur and founder of Srilankaholidayguru.com, the independent website and blog promoting Sri Lanka, stressed the importance of digital marketing in sustaining travel destinations while improving and using technology so the favourite ‘get away from it all’ places become more hospitable and enjoyable.
The travel panel at Disrupt Asia 2019 agreed that Sri Lanka has got all the qualifications to become a leading getaway destination and is ready to welcome tourists despite its ups and down. Panellists also complimented the industry for its fast recovery and the positive attitude of Sri Lankans in the hospitality sector.