Asia-Pacific region the choice for Malaysian travellers

We have seen about 490m online travel bookings taking place yearly, according to Expedia

by LYDIA NATHAN / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

Online travel agency Expedia revealed that the top destinations for Malaysian travellers this year are within the Asia-Pacific region — namely Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

Brand Expedia Asia head of communications Lavinia Rajaram (picture) told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) based on third-party data, the region was the place of choice to visit.

“Travel in this region has been growing exponentially, we have seen about 490 million bookings taking place yearly,” she told TMR recently.

This has encouraged countries in the region to open up destinations and direct flights.

“In the last two years, we have seen airlines launch so many new destinations to meet the demand.

“For example, as Thailand has become one of the busiest tourist destinations, the government is looking at expanding airports so it can become a stopover or transit for flights from Europe.

“We’ve seen numerous changes in the way people can apply for visas, doing it online is so much quicker these days. All these are rapidly changing the dynamics of travel trends today,” Lavinia said.

Lavinia added that the Asia-Pacific region is becoming popular with Muslim travellers.

“The tourism board in those countries have been doing a lot to promote those destinations to Muslim travellers and we have seen an increase in numbers this year,” she said.

According to Lavinia, Expedia makes it a point to work closely with their hotel partners by communicating feedback to improve experiences for guests.

“When publishing photos and information on the site or app, we ensure our partners include Muslim-friendly features, like prayer rooms or options for halal food.

“Or extras, like do they recommend eateries near the hotel that will have halal food,” she said.

Additionally, in 2017, Expedia decided to add the Malay language to the site and app.

“Last year, we launched the dual language option to make it a more personalised experience for those who converse in Malay,” Lavinia said.

She added that Expedia focuses on the experience of the guest first and foremost because the company wants to be known for creating an end-to-end journey that is satisfying.

“When people have a good experience starting from the booking they make with Expedia, right through to their flights and hotels, it is almost a surety they will come back to us when they plan to travel again,” she said.

Expedia conducts a “Flight and Hotel Etiquette” study yearly to learn customer expectations.

“We’ve noticed, for example, Japanese travellers really love bathtubs — it is one of the things they will look for when booking a hotel,” Lavinia said.

The information is handed to the hotel and flight partners so they can improve on their services.

All hotel partners of Expedia are included in the use of a platform called the “Expedia Partner Central”, which hoteliers can use as a revenue management tool to decide for themselves the discount and savings they would like to offer guests when booking with Expedia.

“The hotelier can decide the margin of percentage they want to cut, it will then auto calculate the revenue they will make, whether its yearly or quarterly.

“We want to empower them to grow their business by bringing in traffic by letting them manage and decide for their own selves,” Lavinia said.