Singapore – Digital travel platform Agoda has launched GoLocal Tonight, a new feature to allow users to create and plan their spontaneous travel itinerary, a direct response to the increase in demand for last-minute travel searches for same-day and next-day overnight hotel stays.
Through the platform, travelers looking for spontaneous last-minute travel can benefit from even greater savings from Agoda’s GoLocal Tonight deals when they make a same-day booking.
With the launch of GoLocal Tonight, thousands of hotel and accommodation providers across Asia Pacific have signed up to offer travelers up to 30% additional discount off last-minute reservations.
Data from Agoda noted that Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are the top three Asia Pacific markets to embrace the impromptu travel experience searching for same-day check-ins. These markets are followed by travelers from Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan, India, the Philippines, South Korea, and Singapore.
“There’s a growing group of travelers choosing last-minute adventures – couch dwellers who might make spontaneous decisions to either watch a show or book a staycation for the thrill of it. GoLocal Tonight appeals to this new segment of canny, impulse travelers who are looking out for and are incentivized by low prices to take advantage of same-day deals. It’s a win-win for both partners and travelers,” said Enric Casals, regional director at Agoda.
After a challenging year for both brands and consumers, the new year has finally ushered in and one thing remains – brands in the Asia Pacific region continue to innovate and amaze, whether that’s through a new creative campaign, a promising collaboration, or a novel tech that no one has seen before.
Southeast Asia brands start with a bang this year, where five out of five stories for the month’s top stories come from the region. One is a last hurrah from Christmas campaigning in the Philippines, while another comes from a used-car platform in Malaysia. Two Singapore brands also joined forces for a tie-up that would benefit travelers, while a top Singaporean marketing executive came with big news that involved new business ventures. Meanwhile, MARKETECH APAC’s Marketech Expert Up Close also continued to hook readers when it featured the founder of a newly launched esports platform in the Philippines.
Based on Google Analytics from December 16 to January 15, here are the top stories for the month.
Top 5: Lay’s Philippines’ Christmas ad
The Christmas spirit is still hanging over at the beginning of the year as famous chips brand Lay’s in the Philippines bags a spot on this month’s top stories with their recent Christmas campaign.
With currently 4.5 million views on YouTube, the ad used a tongue-in-cheek marketing strategy, presenting an unexpected combo of endorsers to personify the campaign’s message – ‘Double the Holiday Flavor’ – featuring its Classic and Sour Cream & Onion flavor.
The stars of the ad were the country’s long-time top balladeer Jose Mari Chan and comedic social media personality Nico Bolzico. Using a humorous spin-off of Chan’s classic song ‘Christmas in our hearts’, the two duetted together on a concert-type performance, complete with Black tie and a piano.
Top 4: myTukar’s AI car detection technology
News hailing from Malaysia hooked readers this month when its locally-developed used-car platform myTukar revealed that it will be releasing a tech that is a first in the industry – an AI Car Defect Detection system and Car Plate Masking.
The said technology enables the platform to automate and standardize car inspection through analyzing images and videos. Using scalable and deep learning technology, myTukar is able to detect car defects such as dents, scratches and paint deterioration in seconds.
The platform’s Chief Technology Officer David Voo shared to MARKETECH APAC that the inception of the tech came about when a vendor approached the platform with the sample of the AI detection system, where the tech didn’t initially meet its standards, pushing the platform to develop it further to cater to its customers.
COO Jeffrey Ong said, “It will overall reduce the human error and also to be enhancing our inspection efficiency. So what would happen is we would have a very accurate inspection report. This will definitely overall enhance the whole customer experience.”
Top 3: Esports platform KALARO’s founder Jun Lasco
The launch of Filipino-developed esports platform KALARO was likewise featured in the top stories in October last year, and this time we dive deeper into the man that founded the company behind the platform.
In the episode of MARKETECH Expert Up Close, we sat down with Jun Lasco, the founder of The-AsiaGroup.com Inc. to learn more about his inspiring corporate and entrepreneurial journey in the world of tech, and later on in esports.
In the episode, Lasco bared his beginnings, which started out as being a tech executive for some of the biggest brands in the Philippines such as San Miguel Corporation, Ayala Group, and Fujitsu, in line with work that included programming and tech analytics. He also revealed the challenges he met in his early attempt in putting up a company, where three had to be eventually shut down in 2016 due to corporate setbacks.
Now with its rebirth, Jun shared, “Being naive or too naive about business and people is also not good; funding is a must-have during the initial phase of the start-up ventures and friendships sometimes end when there is big money at stake, among many lessons.”
Top 2: Atome and Agoda’s partnership
Amid ongoing travel restrictions in the pandemic, two leading Singapore platforms recently tied up to entice travel-loving consumers. In December, a partnership was announced between booking platform Agoda and installment payment platform Atome, giving travelers an additional option to pay for their accommodations.
Atome, with its famous ‘buy now, pay later’ scheme, continually adds brands and stores on its platform, and the latest partnership enables those planning to travel to have more breathing ground when it comes to financing.
In a conversation with CEO David Chen, he shared that the idea behind the tie-up is that most of the time, people wish to book a certain accommodation but are disheartened at the onset due to higher prices.
He said, “[Buy now, pay later] is an attitude. It’s an aspiration. People want something that’s of good quality to uplift their fulfillment.”
Top 1: AIA Singapore’s Head of Brand builds own communications practice
Our top story of the month is brimming with brilliance and inspiration as insurance company AIA Singapore’s Head of Brand and Corporate Communications Joanna Ong-Ash exits the company to start her own communications practice, Bravery Communications.
Joanna served the company for a decade, being the communications lead for many of its notable programs such as AIA Vitality in 2013, which was then Singapore’s first comprehensive wellness program, and also launching the insurance company’s first-in-market critical illness plan for those with Type II diabetics and pre-diabetics.
Taking into account Joanna’s holistic corporate experience – she brings 20 years of marketing expertise with her, working with financial services companies such as American Express and Mastercard, hence also marking her exit from corporate life.
Of the new communications firm, Joanna shared that she wants to become a reliable partner of brands that may not be as big as others, but have a bold vision and purpose.
Joann said, “Some of these SMEs do not have the ability to go out to big agencies to afford their expertise. Their purpose is so bold, and a lot of them, when they set up their own companies, they want to help others, they want to contribute to [the] community, and do good.”
“Where I come in, I feel like I am the extended arm of their business. When I work with a client, I’m not just working [with them] because I’m a consultant, I am working with a client because I totally believe in the cause and I want to do good together with them,” she added.
Watch the live report of the top stories for the month on our YouTube channel, where we give you exclusive appearances from the newsmakers themselves.
Singapore – Digital travel platform Agoda has partnered up with installment payment platform Atome in expanding their “buy now, pay later” scheme to Agoda’s payment options for accommodation bookings, initially offered for Singaporean and Malaysian customers.
Under the partnership, users can checkout their Agoda accommodation by selecting Atome on the checkout page. With 34,000 properties available on the Singapore and Malaysia markets, the partnership also hopes to expand the partnership to additional Southeast Asian (Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam) markets as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan by 2021.
“We are always looking for innovative ways to help more people access travel, using tech to simplify the search, booking and payment processes. The launch of our instalment payment offering with Atome will enable Singaporean and Malaysian travellers who might have previously found it inconvenient to pay for their booking in one lump sum to spread the costs over multiple payments by choosing to pay with Atome, without incurring additional costs,” said Darren Makarem, vice president of commercial finance at Agoda.
On the other hand, David Chen, CEO of Atome (pictured) said, “This marks the start of a truly exciting regional partnership with Agoda. Travel and tourism supports so many businesses, livelihoods and economies across Asia. We’re truly humbled to play our part in helping to boost domestic tourism by introducing buy now, pay later payment flexibility and convenience on the Agoda platform today.
He also added, “As more borders in Asia re-open for travel in 2021, our regional partnership will allow even more Agoda travellers to enjoy this payment convenience and flexibility at checkout, improving the customer experience.”
The partnership starts on December 21 for the Singaporean and Malaysian market.
Singapore – In response to customer feedback that hygiene plays a major role in the lookout for new accommodations, online travel agency Agoda recently announced HygienePlus, a new verification feature that shows how hotels and other accommodations maintain hygiene standards within their premises.
The feature provides an extensive checklist that accommodations have to follow in regards to sanitary and hygiene protocols which include safety protocol trainings, contactless check in/check out, temperature check, mandatory wearing of face masks, disinfection of rooms, sterilization of equipment, and signs to observe proper social distancing.
According to Agoda’s latest survey, Asian travelers noted “Hygiene Standard Listings” as a top priority for checking in at accommodations. The survey also revealed “Daily Room Disinfection” and “Daily Disinfection of general areas” to be the most important hygiene measures travelers expect to be implemented by hotels and other accommodation providers.
“People are raring to travel again but need the reassurance that hygiene measures at their destination are rigorous. Hoteliers and accommodation providers need to regain the confidence of travelers and have been working hard to implement safety measures to do so. HygienePlus quickly and easily identifies hotels that are ensuring a safe and hygienic environment,” Omri Morgenstern, chief operating officer at Agoda stated.
Malaysia – Online travel agency and metasearch engine Agoda has released its latest survey of most-searched destinations on agoda.com, where Kuala Lumpur is revealed to be the top-searched among Malaysians.
Kuala Lumpur was followed by Penang and Langkawi as the second and third most searched destinations, while similar local spots such as Port Dickson and Malacca rounded up the top five. Malaysians were also shown to shine interest in places outside the country with Thailand and Tokyo making it to the top 10 list. Meanwhile, national destinations such as Kota Kinabalu, Cameron Highlands, and Genting Highlands were also among the top searches.
Kuala Lumpur remained the top destination for other types of searches such as for the couple, family, and solo travels while Bentong topped the list for group travels. Almost the same mix of places resulted from each category. Ipoh and Johar Baru entered the list for the couple searches. Malaysian families, on the other hand, were also keen for Korea as the country ended as one of top-searched for the family category. Meanwhile, the group travel search saw Allepey, Kuching, Koh Samui, and Taiping entering the list, while heightened liking towards international locations demonstrated among solo travel searches, with almost half being foreign countries such as Singapore and Taipei.
Agoda’s Vice President for Corporate Development Tim Hughes said that whileAgoda’s search data shows that there has been a shift towards domestic destinations amid regulations for domestic travel, people are still dreaming about international travel adventures.
“[Travelers] still have hope that travel corridors will open later this year to some key markets where COVID has been more contained, and are looking out for great deals for when they do,” said Hughes.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Agoda has launched its biggest integrated campaign, “GoLocal”, aimed at stimulating domestic tourism across its Asia Pacific and global markets, and has signed up thousands of hotel partners in the pre-launch phase.
Accommodation providers opting into Agoda’s GoLocal initiative are set to benefit from its multi-channel approach to helping partners reach and convert travelers looking for great domestic travel deals. In its largest domestic initiative, Agoda has developed a fully integrated sales and marketing campaign to support its GoLocal program, investing in coordinated social media campaigns, digital brand activations and video content, and targeted public relations activities, as well as bespoke customer marketing and a dedicated landing page www.agoda.com/golocal.
“We soft-launched this initiative over the past month to gauge the appetite for support of domestic travel promotions, and the enthusiasm has been beyond our expectations. We have now officially launched GoLocal and already have thousands of hotel and Agoda Homes partners around the world working with us to share great deals with people who want to start traveling again. Our pre-launch GoLocal early adopters are significantly outperforming other providers within the domestic travel sector across the region, and so we are confident this GoLocal initiative will continue to generate even more bookings,” explained Errol Cooke, Vice President Partner Services, Agoda.
Partners signing up to GoLocal are offering up special domestic deals. In return, participating partners will be featured across various Agoda product and marketing touchpoints, strategically identified to maximize impact of the campaign. These include the exclusive agoda.com/golocal landing site for domestic travel, GoLocal badges to highlight participating properties on Agoda, plus exciting brand and performance marketing activities. Strategic partnerships with key verticals will highlight and promote partner hotels and properties, further extending the reach of the campaign.
“As restrictions on travel ease, we want the GoLocal campaign to stimulate domestic travel demand across Asia Pacific and beyond, by using creative content and messaging to inspire as many travelers to explore their own countries, reconnect with local culture and discover hidden gems. We will encourage them to safely learn to travel again and help our customers to find the widest choice and best value deals to do so. We’re going all out to make this campaign a true success, so our partners can ride this wave of increasing demand, and strive for better times ahead,” said Cooke.
The GoLocal consumer campaign launches with a global brand film, distributed digitally in key markets. The film, a love letter to travel told from the perspective of a wise experienced traveler, encourages more mindful travel as we explore the world nearby.
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