EARLY entrants in Asia’s online travel space such as ZUJI and Wotif.com believe their first-mover advantage and successful localisation will keep Expedia at bay, even as Expedia fields a Singapore-specific website backed by global reach, better rates, established branding and technical know-how.
The OTA enters Singapore in one fell swoop with over 130,000 properties worldwide, a 24-7 local call centre, no cancellation fee when travel plans change, and bells and whistles such as its Deal Hunter, virtual hotel tours and independent traveller reviews. Airfares and packages will be included later this year. Expedia is also planning new sites in Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand within the first half of this year.
Unfazed, Roshan Mendis, president of ZUJI and regional vice president of Travelocity Asia-Pacific, told TTG Asia e-Daily: “ZUJI is an early entrant into the Singapore market and has since built a strong and thriving business. Apart from Singapore, the growth of online penetration is still in development for other parts of South-east Asia. We foresee an increase in the number of players who will be leveraging the value proposition of online travel booking, which will accelerate consumers’ migration to the online space. We are strongly positioned to benefit from the growth and acceleration of the online travel industry and will continue to provide travellers with the most compelling place to book their travel online.”
Singapore may be small, but it is a key travel market because it is a regional hub for LCCs and home to IT-savvy travellers, notes Wotif.com’s executive general manager Matthew Varley. Expedia’s market would help encourage more travellers to get online and Wotif, present in Singapore since opening a local office in 2004, will continue to nab its share through localisation.
“Localisation is certainly a good strategy to cut through the clutter in the crowded online marketplace and has always been part of Wotif.com’s regional growth strategy in Asia. For six years with Wotif.com.sg, we have successfully localised our content, tailoring our deals, promotions and credit card partnerships to our Singaporean audience,” Varley said.