To breathe life into Mekong’s battered tourism industry, Destination Mekong has rolled out two new platforms, Mekong Memories and Mekong Deals, designed for travel trade players to engage with travellers and to ensure that the destination stays top of mind among tourists.
The Mekong Memories platform allows travel providers across Mekong to connect with their past guests and invite them to share photos and stories of their past travel experiences, so as to inspire travel to the destination post-Covid, according to Jens Thraenhart, executive director of Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, which endorses Destination Mekong.
“It is a collaborative and inclusive campaign where everyone can join and work together. On one hand, they promote the region together, and on the other hand, they create revenue for businesses, especially small businesses struggling to survive right now,” he said at the Virtual Destination Mekong Summit on August 25.
Photos on the Mekong Memories platform are linked to the Mekong Deals website, where Mekong trade players offer special deals to woo tourists.
A Three Lakes Trekking tour package, for instance, is priced at US$447, a discount of 25 per cent from the original price. Offered through December 15, 2021, the four-day trekking package lures tourists to explore the three lakes of the Shan state by boat and on foot, visit tribes and villages along the way, and enjoy an intimate homestay experience in the Pa-Oh village.
The website is still in its initial stages, and more tourism players are set to come on board with special deals and promotions.
Citing an example, Jens shared that if a user browsing the Mekong Memories website were to click on a photo of Sofitel Bangkok shared by another user, and the hotel has an ongoing promotion, the user would be able to view the deal. “It is basically combining storytelling and relevant deals to get money directly to the businesses,” he said.
Willem Niemeijer, chairman of Yaana Ventures/Khiri Travel, hailed the new platforms for showcasing not just big brand hotels, but also SME operators, across the entire Mekong region.
Believing that travel is a shared experience, Ianic Menard, Accor’s vice president of sales, marketing and distribution for Upper Southeast Asia, is also in favour of an inclusive, user-generated platform like Mekong Memories.
“Peer-to-peer content was a strategy before the pandemic, but it is even more important today because it is typically viewed as more trustworthy and relevant,” he said.
Ianic said that the platforms are not only a great way for travellers to discover new experiences in the Mekong region, such as unique shops or off-the-beaten-path tours, but also encourages greater collaboration within the community.
He said: “Collaboration has always been important, but probably even more so with the pandemic situation… (There are) two areas where collaboration is key: content creation and destination marketing… By collaborating deliberately, we are able to create content effectively and quickly… and make sure that there is a consistent message going quickly across the market, whether it is domestic or international.”