Brick-&-Mortar Travel Firm Finds its Way to Digitalisation

James Tang knew that he needed to move his company into the digital space for the long-term future.

The transformation felt daunting: The executive director of SITA World Travel worried about implications to the bottom-line, wondered about the time needed and pondered about what the immediate ROIs would be. He also worried about the readiness of his firm’s workforce to go digital – some of whom were acutely out of their comfort zones when it came to the digital space. But he knew that consumers were increasingly turning to online sites to book their holidays.

The solution to his predicament presented itself under the most unlikely circumstances – the Digital Marketing Place-and-Train Programme designed to help troubled companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. In providing targeted support for the badly affected tourism sector, the government is reserving $5m to support workers under the Adapt and Grow initiative: an initiative aimed at helping Singaporeans affected by the economic downtime to adapt to changing job demands and grow their skills. With this budget, Workforce Singapore (WSG), in partnership with NYP’s School of Business Management, launched the Digital Marketing Place-and-Train Programme to help employers in this sector train and upskill existing workers to take on digital roles at workplace.

Tapping on WSG funding for course fees and salary support, both James and SITA's operations assistant, Janet Tan embarked on the programme in March to learn how to expand their company’s online presence. Janet, at 53, had shown interest in taking up this learning opportunity, which will equip her with the skills and knowledge for the expansion of her portfolio: she will be tasked to look at branding and marketing in the digital space via various social media platforms.

With just a few more modules to go, James and Janet will complete their programme in July. Already, work has begun on SITA’s Facebook page, with increased posts of content, such as videos, that engages and connects more with customers.

“I am really excited to apply the many tools, strategies and resources out there that could effectively help my business in its marketing efforts. We’ve started work on creating our brand awareness, and so far, our engagement rate has been pretty decent: it has increased by more than 100%. We were also thrilled to have Minister Teo Chee Hean and Prof Tommy Koh noticing and liking our Facebook post recently! That, to me, is an encouraging and invaluable ROI for a start,” James shares.

James plans to send more staff to attend similar programmes at NYP, so that the team is aligned in capabilities development. He also has plans to use what he has learnt about consumer personas and data insights to slowly, and steadily, build his brand presence; such as using different personas on their website and Facebook as they cater to different audiences. This will be especially handy as they move to include B2C in their business model.

Meanwhile, Janet is enjoying her course and looks forward to her new role when she returns to full-time work post-COVID-19.  James also plans to send more staff to attend similar programmes at NYP, so that the team is aligned in capabilities development.

He further elaborates: “It was important that I signed up myself so that I can appreciate the possibilities and potential at a strategic level. This programme is badly needed in our industry as it is very suitable for older workers. Younger staff grew up with digital technology and are savvy. But the older ones may struggle. From the management’s perspective this is a very relevant business resource. Getting more staff to understand and appreciate the importance of digital marketing has significant impact on my company’s online presence. Janet can now relate to this significance, and finds her new role meaningful. And, this has valuable implications for her job satisfaction. Such skill sets provide my staff with the agility to adapt to changes and job redesign during crises such as this. It helps them keep their jobs, and I get to retain my staff.”


Read about Janet's learning journey here.

Check out tourism-relevant ETSP courses here.

Updated 17 July 2020

Published 20 May2020