With increasing disposable income and expanding tourism, Asia Pacific has become the fastest-growing regional travel market. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, five of the world’s ten fastest growing tourism cities are in Asia, making it the hot spot for the travel marketers. Propelled by high penetration of mobile, the region has been witnessing double digit growth in online booking, making it a priority region for global OTAs. However, the market is still dominated by local and regional players, even as global OTAs make strategic investments to make inroads.
In our series on Online Travel Channels in APAC, we have looked into major players shaping the digital travel space. In the first article of the series, we have discussed the giants in the region – Agoda, Ctrip and Make My Trip and their secret sauce to success. In this second part, we will be focussing on local players who are dominating the online travel space in their respective regions.
Fliggy (formerly known as AliTrip) – the travel booking site from Alibaba, is an important player in the China focusing on the upmarket segment – particularly the travel aspiring millennials and international travellers. Of the 10 million daily active users on Fliggy, 80 percent are millennials with college degree living on tier-1 and tier-2 cities – giving the platform a unique exposure and reach. Alibaba has also positioned it as a “premium” travel booking site focusing on outbound travel. The site is designed as youthful, refined, geared toward long-haul, leisure, experiential, as well as luxury trips, rather than the usual to short-term or domestic business travel. From its partnership with Marriot group to getting Booking.com to launch a flagship store on its platform, Fliggy has been making a series of strategic partnerships to create a global brand. Leveraging Alibaba’s ecosystem, which is used by 699 million mobile monthly active users, the platform is positioning itself as a travel marketplace covering the 360 degree of travel to provide consumers with better travel products and service experience. This means a traveller with high purchasing power can plan and book their travel on Fliggy, buy additional items necessary for travel from Alibaba owned e-commerce site Taobao while using Alipay for transactions, ensuring a seamless user experience throughout.
Japan’s online leisure/unmanaged business travel market is the second largest in Asia Pacific region. Founded in 2002, Rakuten Travel is one of Japan’s largest online hotel reservation website with over 3.7 million room nights booked per month. The channel receives 5.34 million unique visitors every month. The firm has access to more than 20,000 domestic and 15,000 international hotels and has a presence in South Korea and China. Rakuten Travel, which is the most popular OTA in Japan, is owned by Rakuten Group, which provides more than 70 e-commerce services beyond travel. The group, often compared with Amazon connects services within its ecosystem enabling users to access all services within the system by using a single login ID, and the same loyalty program for a seamless experience. The company has invested heavily into artificial intelligence and big data for understanding changing consumer behavior and effective personalization.
Traveloka, one of late entrants in the market and founded by three friends in Indonesia, is one of the biggest success stories in the online travel space in South Asia. The channel which offers flights, hotels, trains, tours & activities, transfers and packages is present in Southeast Asia’s six primary markets — Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines. With the introduction of PayLater, an online credit system without the need for a credit card, Traveloka is poised to make further inroads into the region where relatively low penetration of credit / debit card has remained a hindrance to online payment. The channel is also actively pushing into the lifestyle category and has recently rolled out a discovery platform featuring restaurant and wellness activities. The Traveloka mobile app has been downloaded more than 30 million times, making it the most popular travel booking app in the region. With Expedia’s investment into the channel making it the first billion-dollar start-up in Indonesia, the company has been adding more products and services including bundles to mobile applications to make it a one-stop-shop for customers to book and redeem travel themselves.
As hoteliers, are you ready to tap into the Asia Pacific market? Are you managing these channels well and keeping them automatically updated with rates and availability on a regular basis?
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