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A week of Dramas, Online Talk and Rainbows.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Thursday, 28th November 2013
 

It’s the day after the PhoCusWright Conference in Fort Lauderdale: After the heavy rains of last night – thought I was back in Singapore with palm trees being lashed by heavy rainfall – there’s more bluster than breeze in the air and the waves are strong and choppy.
 
It’s been a rather dramatic week here – on Sunday, the day before the conference started, a man fell through the 23rd floor balcony of the Westin Diplomat, the hotel venue, and smashed through the glass ceiling. A blue patch covered the area where he crashed through. On Tuesday, a Learjet crashed into the coast off Fort Lauderdale – the apartment I am in has a direct view of that ocean.
 
Thankfully, conference proceedings were not as dramatic.
 
Yesterday, I moderated the panel on “Asia Beyond China” featuring Timothy Hughes, Agoda, Ross Veitch, Wego, Kei Shibata, travel.jp and Rajesh Magow, MakeMyTrip.
 
It was nice to share Centerstage with friends from home and to see the room was fairly packed – I was told in previous years whenever there’s a panel on anywhere outside the US, most people would leave the room.
 
It’s definitely an indication of the growing interest in Asia Pacific and it is clear from the discussions that the big brands are looking to what the Americans still call “the emerging markets” to deliver growth.
 
The talk at the conference was about Priceline (PCLN) joining the $1,000 stock price club. According to this analyst report, the group’s past five-year growth is an impressive 48% and the next five years’ growth estimate is 20.45%.
 
During an investors panel, the question was asked whether such a growth is sustainable and the answer was that new markets as well as alternative accommodation would deliver the goods.
 
"Companies with the expertise to reach new markets should continue to grow and mobile is also creating a new growth engine for OTAs,” said one investor. “Alternative accommodation and new transportation modes also represent substantial opportunities for established players.”

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