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Graham Hills

Online Travel Professional, Jakarta/Singapore

A win for the team, A win for Wegonesia

Posted on | November 22, 2012 | No Comments

Some great news this past week. Wego won the best social media strategy award at the EyeForTravel conference held in Hong Kong, Tuesday 20 November.

This is really exciting! The whole team here in Indonesia, together with some fantastic support from our Singapore colleagues, have worked really hard to engage our community, known locally as Wegonesia.

The strategy has always been about being ‘local’ which is why we hired a local team of passionate travellers, well versed in all things social media. Local means local knowhow, local ideas, most importantly understanding the local mindset and what appeals to local travellers.

We had a vision. Indonesia is a beautiful place that Indonesians and the world are only just starting to discover. Our vision was to highlight that there’s more to Indonesia than just those well known destinations like Bali, Lombok or Yogyakarta. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bali, many of the team love Bali, and for those that know me Yogya is where I really fell in love with Indonesia. But, in an archipelago with over 17,000 islands (depending on whether it’s high or low tide), there is more than just a handful of beautiful destinations. Destinations unique in culture, with unique attractions, amazing scenery; beaches, mountains, jungle, and what I love the most, amazing people.

Through social media and great travel content, we, as a team, set out to share this with Wegonesia.

Starting with our photo competition, Ini Indonesia, we engaged thousands of travellers, sharing photos of their favourite destinations. Many of these photos you’ll see on our Facebook page where thousands of the community comment, like, share and publicly aspire to visit one day. Wego is helping people discover Indonesia and not only that, we help users find great places to stay and the best prices on flights.

We then produced a great video together with our friends at Hifatlobrain. The video, Vaastu, was about exploring and finding direction as there’s always a friendly local to help you find your way. Thousands viewed the video and we hope were inspired to get out there and travel.

VAASTU: A Way to be Found from Wego Indonesia on Vimeo.

I can watch the video over and over; I loved it from the first cut!

Several other campaigns would follow and we continue to engage with the community daily. Helping them share their photos, answering their travel questions, inspiring them and helping them discover.

Wegonesia, this win is for all of you!

Finding the inspiration to write

Posted on | August 15, 2012 | No Comments

Those of you who know me may have seen several failed attempts to start a blog – there have been many. And this is my first post here since December 2011 so you could argue that this attempt is not working out any better.

I get motivation to write in fits and starts and then months go by before I write again. A few things have changed this time around I guess. This year I’ve had the chance to write a couple of articles for two sites I really love, Web in Travel and Tnooz. The great thing is that these are sites that people actually read unlike my blog and in this age of instant gratification it’s great to get a comment, a retweet or a like. I’m also actively working with Wego press team to get news out about our company, but what I like best are the stories where we delve deeper into travel trends, especially those here in Indonesia where the market is exploding. So many new travellers starting to explore Indonesia and the world and it makes for some very interesting data and information to share.

I’ve also realised I’m living my dream. Anyone who can read Bahasa Indonesia will be able to understand my post about why I’m moving to Indonesia (now been here 8 months). I’ve wanted to live in Indonesia since I first visited the country in 1993 as a high school student. I’m working in an industry I love, online travel, in a country I love and one that is growing exponentially and with a team that never ceases to amaze me and raise the bar.

What I also realised the other night around 2am, having been woken by my crying 9 month old, is that as an Australian expat living in Jakarta I have some interesting stories to tell based on my experiences living here. I find myself regularly talking to people about living here, moving here; people have a lot of questions and there’s lots to know so hopefully I can share some of that here.

So with all of this, here come’s another attempt at blogging; some English some in Bahasa. Stay tuned!

Predictions, Predictions, Predictions!

Posted on | December 22, 2011 | No Comments

So its that time of the year when loads and loads of publishers are starting with their predictions of what’s going to happen in 2012. Some are serious, some believable, some are totally hilarious like the ones from Travelfish.

There’s some great predictions about the travel industry from the team at Tnooz and these are well worth a read. I’m agreeing with Glenn Gruber on the Tnooz post that there will be a large impact in Travel from Apple, but what I’m surprised nobody focused on is where Facebook will play in all of this.

Already in Facebook I’m seeing a very TripAdvisor like ‘Where I’ve been map’ as part of the timeline and Facebook is continuously asking me about where my photos were taken. I must say they’re pretty damn accurate too with their suggestions.

My prediction is we’ll see Facebook do a lot more in travel themselves, but we’ll continue to see more travel companies, old and new, tap the Facebook graph to provide their users with recommendations from their friends. Facebook Connect will become a hygiene factor.

I can’t predict the future, but there’s a few things I’m thinking about next year based on what I’m seeing already and a few hunches.

  • 2012 won’t be the end of the world and there will be more movies about when this might be
  • the traffic in Jakarta is going to get a whole lot worse
  • Indonesia is going to a huge focus of big travel companies – new hotels, new air routes, renewed airports
  • More Indonesian startups are going to be funded
  • The travel companies that do really well in Indonesia will be the ones that adapt to local payment methods

We’re already seeing significant movement in terms of Travel in Indonesia with AirAsia announcing another new international entry point with flights from Kuala Lumpur to Semarang. Lion Air has ordered hundreds of new planes and are actively adding new routes. Hotel groups are adding new properties in Indonesia in great abundance.

However 2012 starts off it’s going to be a very exciting year for travel and Indonesia is the place to be!

Ngapain gw pindah ke Indonesia?

Posted on | November 21, 2011 | 25 Comments

Banyak orang bertanya kepada saya, kenapa sih mau pindah ke Indonesia? Apa yang kamu sukai? Kenapa tidak mau tetap di Australia atau di Singapura saja?

Saya sudah cukup lama bolak balik ke Indonesia. Pertama kali ke Indonesia saya berumur 13 tahun pada tahun 1993, masih di high school ketika itu. Dan itu tahun kedua saya mempelajari Bahasa Indonesia. Ketika itu saya mengunjungi Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta dan Bali. Meskipun masih muda saya langsung tau bahwa suatu hari nanti saya akan kembali ke Indonesia. Saya katakan kepada orang tua saya bahwa saya akan tinggal di Indonesia suatu saat nanti!

Dari kunjungan pertama itu saya menyadari ada sesuata istimewa di Indonesia. Orangnya, kebudayaannya dan makanannya. Orang-orangnya sangat bangga. Ada kebanggaan tentang ‘being Indonesian’, tentang kebudayaan, tentang tanah air Indonesia, tentang keindahan alam dan lainnya. Kebanggaan ini berarti orang Indonesia selalu senang kalau berbagi tentang negaranya.

Tahun 1994 saya mengikuti pertukaran pelajar di Salatiga selama 5 minggu dan tinggal dengan host family. Enam bulan sebelumnya keluarga saya juga menyambut pertukaran pelajar dari Salatiga di rumah kami (Perth, Australia).

Dengan cepat, Bahasa Indonesia menjadi mata jurusan saya yang paling tinggi dan yang paling saya sukai!

Waktu masuk universitas saya masih binggung… What do I want to be when I grow up? Selama dua tahun kemudian saya masih saja pusing! Saya belajar akuntansi dan keuangan, tapi sangat membosankan. Untungnya saya juga melanjutkan pelajaran Bahasa Indonesia. Kemudian, pada tahun 1999 saya mendapat kesempatan belajar Bahasa Indonesia di Universitas Gadjah Mada di Yogyakarta selama enam bulan. Pengalaman ini hanya meyakinkan saya bahwa suatu hari saya akan tinggal di Indonesia lagi… Enam bulan itu juga membuat saya berpikir: kok belajar akuntansi!

Habis lulus dari UGM saya balik ke Australia dan mengganti mata jurusan saya. Dari saat itu saya belajar Tourism Management.

Fast forward beberapa tahun ke akhir 2010 dan saya mendekati founder Wego.com untuk mencari kesempatan pindah ke Indonesia lagi dan buka kantor Wego di Jakarta. Yang menarik, saya tidak hanya mebuka kantor Wego Indonesia, tetapi juga membuka HolidayIQ Indonesia.

FYI, HolidayIQ.co.id adalah website dari orang Indonesia dan untuk orang Indonesia yang merencanakan liburan dan petualangan di negeri sendiri. Tidak terlalu lama sesudah itu saya memutuskan keluar dari Yahoo! di Singapura dan mengikuti tim Wego dan HolidayIQ Indonesia.

Saya masih bolak-balik dari Singapura ke Jakarta, tetapi semoganya di awal tahun 2012 saya akan mulai menetap di Indonesia lagi.

Saya sedang merekrut tim saya dan sudah sampai beberapa orang di Indonesia. Semua orang di timnya punya jiwa kebanggaan itu yang saya ceritakan dulu. Mereka semua mau berbagi pengalaman jalan-jalan di Indonesia dengan traveler lain dan membantu orang Indonesia dalam menjelajahi negara yang indah ini.

Sekarang saya yang bangga. Dari kunjungan pertama itu ke Indonesia saya tahu suatu hari akan tinggal di Indonesia lagi dan sekarang it’s becoming real!Salam hangat dan selamat jalan-jalan di Indonesia!

Graham Hills
General Manager, Indonesia – Wego dan HolidayIQ

Jakarta most popular airport outside US on Foursquare

Posted on | November 18, 2011 | No Comments

I’ve been talking a lot lately about the popularity of social networks in Indonesia and the rise in checkin based services such as Koprol and Foursquare. Indonesian people are largely glued to their devices whether they’re stuck in the ‘macet’ (traffic jam), ‘nongkrong di cafe’ (hanging out in a cafe) or at work so it’s no surprise that they’re checking in to let their friends know where they are and earning themselves ‘status’ at the same time.

My ex Yahoo! colleague, Dave Chalklen, now at Vocanic wrote an excellent article recently titled ‘Putting the Social back in Indonesia’s media‘ that really highlights what’s going on in the country. His reflections on the market really highlight the current trends and some of the psychology behind them.

Further supporting the popularity and adoption of Foursquare in Indonesia is a recent post from Jaunted.com showing the most popular airports based on Foursquare checkins. No surprise that Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport tops the list of airports outside of the US.

Being a frequent traveller to Indonesia I can also tell you that after checking in at Jakarta airport there really isn’t much else to do! Thankfully there’s word of some major redevelopments happening over the next couple of years! Until then it’s foot reflexology and a beer or two at the Pura Indah Lounge for me!

Exploring Indonesia one day at a time

Posted on | November 10, 2011 | 2 Comments

If you’re a regular on Flickr or Twitter you may have noticed a lot of people documenting their lives with a photo a day as part of the 365 Project. There’s some really interesting journeys you can take following the lives of people you know and those of complete strangers.

Taking a slightly different spin on this is Achmad Alkatiri, Community Manager at HolidayIQ Indonesia who has set out on a journey to share a photo of a different destination in Indonesia every day for the next year.

Mad, as he prefers to be known, is helping people discover that there’s more to Indonesia than just Bali, Lombok and Jakarta which is part of my team’s vision for HolidayIQ in Indonesia and we’re all working hard to produce compelling, useful content to help Indonesians discover new destinations around the archipelago.

For those of you who speak Bahasa Indonesia you can follow Mad’s adventures on his blog: madalkatiri.com, but if English is more your thing check out his posts on the Good News From Indonesia blog.

Digital media habits in Southeast Asia 2011

Posted on | November 10, 2011 | No Comments

Nielsen have released their findings of a recent study of online behaviour internet users in Southeast Asia.

It’s a really interesting read especially considering how fast the internet landscape is changing in the region.

Of particular interest to me is what’s happening in Indonesia. With only 21% internet penetration Indonesia trails the rest of the region in terms of adoption levels, but is a force to be reckoned with in terms of size. The recent MarkPlus Insight Survey quoted some 55 million internet users in the country.

It’s no surprise to anyone familiar with Indonesia that mobile internet usage is huge! Mobile devices have become the dominant, most popular means of accessing the internet in Indonesia with 43% of respondents saying mobile was their main device for internet access.

Indonesia came in third for smartphone ownership as a percentage of the population trailing only Singapore and Malaysia.

At the recent Web in Travel conference held in Singapore I shared my view that Indonesians are still in the communication phase online but this will quickly change as more and more Indonesians go online for media content and then as the market matures more people will start shopping online. Recent developments in the payment space will definitely help move this more quickly.

So what are Indonesians doing online? Messaging on social networks, commenting on social networks, checking out profiles, updating profiles. Oh, and email.

To read more download Nielsen’s Digital Media Habits and Attitudes of Southeast Asia Consumers.

Interesting startups from Indonesia

Posted on | November 1, 2011 | No Comments

I recently presented at Web in Travel 2011 in Singapore about some interesting startups in Indonesia. Here’s a copy of my slides that are available on my Slideshare account.

Wego expanding to Indonesia

Posted on | August 14, 2011 | No Comments

As Wego continues on it’s expansion to Indonesia I was interviewed by Joshua Kevin over at Penn-Olson.com.

Check out the interview here.