Asia in focus

Schubert Lou, chief operating officer of, believes that the conditions for the recovery and growth of Asia’s travel market are favourable, which is why the OTA is working towards becoming the number one player in the region

Which international markets are your best performing markets, and how are you growing your market share in markets that don’t really use
Pre-Covid, we were aggressively expanding in two areas – Asia and Europe. For Asia, the countries are Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia, while in Europe they were UK, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Our fastest-growing market right now is Thailand, and we have seen a great growth in South Korea as well. has a very different philosophy for branding and marketing, and we believe in a very focused, targeted approach. We look at a couple of factors when it comes to branding. First, we consider whether our product market fit is ready for each market. We assess that by looking at the organic growth through a certain percentage of market share, which differs from market to market. Once you attain that market share, it is an indication that your product is being adopted by the market on a natural level, and that is when we start amplifying our branding efforts.

What region is’s focus moving forward?
Asia will be what we’re focusing on. It is the most important region for, and we need to increase our market penetration, and understand how we can dominate in the OTA space. We have the right people, the right team structure, and with Asia’s current rate of recovery, we also have the right timing. We want to be the number one player in this space in a couple of years.

How has your sales performance been during recent online sale seasons like 11.11 and 12.12? Were sales on those days particularly high?
The 3.3 sale in Singapore this year was the very first one that we ran. It was well received, and we were pleasantly surprised with the response. With that, we started getting into a rhythm and having more frequent sale campaigns, and also increased the frequency from once in two months to monthly. Singapore was the first trial in March this year as it was a market that was ready for such campaigns, with the loosening of the travel policies. We also looked at the policy progression in other markets, and tailored the sale campaigns to each market accordingly.

Sale campaigns are further localised for each market. For instance, we ran a Pay Day campaign in Thailand, which focused on attractive 9 Baht travel deals. This is a combination of the local cultural understanding of 9 Baht being a good discount, as well as pay day, which worked really well for Thailand.

With the recent lifting of restrictions in China, does anticipate more domestic travel and movement?
We are cautiously optimistic about the Chinese market, and we are looking at the upcoming Lunar New Year as the first indication on how ready people in China are to travel. If there are signs of recovery, then we will be more hopeful about the situation for the upcoming spring travels.

What trends do you see in the travel OTA space?
For one, we think there will be a lot of regionalisation in travel. People have been cooped up for two years, and domestic travel can only go so far. But with current geo-political conflicts, there will be an increased desire for rational, financially-sound travels, which will most likely be to nearby countries.

For example, in Asia, we think that travellers will go on more regional, medium-haul trips, or weekend trips. Because in Asia, a majority of destinations are within a four-hour flight.

The second trend will be the anticipation of the China outbound, and we hope that it will happen sometime in summer 2023. And when that happens, travel patterns will then be tailored to this crowd and their behaviours. We are seeing user behaviours changing in China, especially with their e-commerce purchasing patterns. We think that travellers will be more value-driven due to the current economic conditions and their income.

What are some new initiatives to support travel suppliers that rely on’s network?
We have been engaging with our partners a lot more and increasing our touchpoints with them, as we have a lot more data to support the recovery. We believe that product solutions will change, especially with the soon-to-happen China outbound travel, and are working with our partners on the right product offerings and pricing.

The second thing we have been doing is working closely with tourism boards and stakeholders to work on key messaging and branding for destinations to attract a traveller’s attention. Economic conditions in the future may not be ideal, so we also have to be smarter in targeting customers.

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