Malaysia travel players in hot pursuit of high-end pie

Mount Kinabalu During Blue Sky

Tour operators in Malaysia are activating their creative juices to craft value-add packages and unique experiences to spur the high-income segment who usually holiday overseas to explore their own backyards.

Mayflower Holidays general manager, Abdul Rahman Mohamed, said his company is working with banks to tap their high-net-worth customers.

Travel agencies in Malaysia are wooing affluent domestic travellers with experiential travel packages to attractions like Mount Kinabalu National Park (above)

He shared: “These high-end customers expect to be pampered and with that in mind, we include added value offerings into the packages such as free spa treatments and late check-outs. The response has been encouraging.”

According to the Central Bank of Malaysia, the country’s GDP had contracted by 17.1 per cent in the second quarter, mainly due to the nationwide lockdown as part of Covid-19 containment efforts.

However, Abdul Rahman said that the high-end consumers “are not much affected, and they have money to spend.” The challenge, he added, is to satisfy the needs of this demanding segment which is “not easy to please.”

Also hoping to get a slice of the high-end pie is Apple Vacations & Conventions, as the interruption of outbound travel forces it to focus on the domestic market for now. Its group managing director, Koh Yock Heng, said: “Domestic high-end tourists will use an agent when they are looking for a unique holiday experience. Otherwise, they will travel on their own. It is also not about pricing, but experiences and content.”

As such, experiential tourism seems to be the way to go in winning the hearts of affluent travellers. “We have done sunset dinners in a paddy field and private dinners in traditional villages, with the villagers mingling with our clients and sharing lifestyle experiences,” said Koh.

Other offerings by the agency include soft adventure packages to Mulu Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Sarawak; Mount Kinabalu National Park, and Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Sabah.

Sunflower Holidays managing director, Mint Leong, shared that there are dedicated personnel in its office to cater to the high-end segment, as they “tend to make last-minute bookings and changes to their itinerary.”

“Sometimes we get enquiries (from high-end clients) three days before the trip,” she said, adding that in this respect, they were different from their inbound counterparts who usually made their bookings ahead of time.

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