With integration put to rest, Hotelbeds now eyes growth in ancillaries portfolio in APAC

With the recent completion of integration of Tourico Holidays and GTA onto a single platform, Hotelbeds’ priority is now on growing its customer base of high-value clients for its bedbank business and ancillary products, renamed last year to Beyond the Bed. Previously, it was known as Transfers and Activities Bank.

Hotelbeds’ high-value clients include tour operators, retail travel agents, airline websites, and loyalty schemes in over 140 source markets worldwide. These channels provide hotel partners with returning guests that book further in advance, cancel less, spend more in-destination and stay longer.

Hotelbeds looks to grow its bedbank business and ancillary products, renamed last year to Beyond the Bed; Hotelbeds’ Chua Hui-Wan & Beyond the Bed’s Javier Cuevas Visconti pictured

Hotelbeds regional director, wholesale sales, Asia Pacific, Chua Hui-Wan, shared with TTG Asia on the sidelines of the Markethub Asia in Bali, that for the last 18 months, the focus had been on integration of the three companies.

She said: “To be very honest, that was a very intense and very complex work that we did in a record time of 18 months… Now that integration is over, we can focus on growing the business.”

Chua shared that the company’s focus for the Asia-Pacific region will be on growing its guarantee and deposits products by adding more hotels. She said: “We are undertaking a financial risk as it involves making prepayments to hotels for exclusive deals on rates and conditions. But we are able to do this because we have the cash flow that smaller bedbank players may not have.”

Already the world’s largest bedbank with more than 180,000 hotels and seven times larger than its closest competitor, WebBeds, Hotelbeds has intention to expand its portfolio by an additional 10,000 every year.

But Chua insisted that Hotelbeds’ size do not pose any disadvantage in terms of agility and adapting to market needs, as compared with smaller bed banks that focused on niche products. Its sheer size, she said, meant having the advantage of negotiating for the best rates with hotels, for the benefits of clients.

While the hotel side of business in the Asia Pacific region is growing at five per cent annually and is projected to continue at a similar growth rate into the near future, Hotelbeds is also see growth prospects in its ancillaries units. Beyond the Bed product line, for instance, has seen a 15 per cent increase in global business year-on-year up to September 30, 2019 while business in the Asia Pacific region has grown by 45 per cent.

Double-digit growth numbers are expected to continue annually for both the global market and Asia-Pacific region, shared Javier Cuevas Visconti, global sales director, Beyond the Bed. The product line covers sourcing and distribution of transfers, activities, tickets, theme parks, car hire, travel insurance and specialist tours.

Sharing insights on travel behaviour, Javier quoted data from Skift Research that showed that 67 per cent of affluent travellers prioritise tours and activities over hotel room when it comes to spend, as compared with 59 per cent in 2017.

He said demand for in-destination activities is strong among millennials who are inspired by social media postings of friends and celebrities on holiday and they don’t want to miss out from enjoying similar experiences. The company was investing in eco-friendly activities and day coach tours to fill the gap in the market.

Javier shared that by 2021, Beyond the Bed hoped to double the size of its global business as well as business in the Asia Pacific region through strategic partnerships with its customer travel agents and tour operators.

Currently, the portfolio of Beyond The Bed comprises 18,000 activities worldwide, 24,000 transfer routes and over 500 car rental providers. In the Asia Pacific region, it comprises 4,000 activities and 6,000 transfer routes in 200 destinations.

Javier shared that Beyond the Bed was also training smaller suppliers to embrace technology so they could distribute their products to last-minute buyers online.

He said the biggest in-destination markets for activities in Asia were Thailand, Indonesia, China and Japan. The main source markets for the Asia Pacific region were Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.

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