Singapore — Agoda has partnered with WWF-Singapore (World Wide Fund for Nature) to support marine habitat restoration efforts as part of the launch of its Eco Deals program. Through Eco Deals, Agoda will work in collaboration with its accommodation partners to offer deals that ‘give back and highlight responsible tourism, environmental or community-led charities and organizations.
In this campaign launch involving WWF-Singapore, Agoda and its hotel and accommodation partners will fund efforts to raise awareness about responsible tourism, enabling the restoration of marine habitats such as coral reefs and mangroves in Southeast Asia, and protecting wildlife affected by floods in Australia.
Agoda’s Eco Deals will first launch with accommodation partners in five countries – Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore – to offer travellers between 5% to 15% discounts on their bookings. For each booking, Agoda will contribute to WWF-Singapore’s marine conservation and flood-affected wildlife protection.
Agoda’s Sustainable Travel Trends Survey (2021) found consumers want to travel more sustainably, and that polluted beaches and waterways ranked as the top concern of Filipino tourists; second for Australians, Indonesian, and Malaysians; and third for Singaporeans. Aside from an Eco Deals badge to support and highlight participating properties, Agoda will develop a dedicated landing page which will be launched to consumers on 8 June 2022, to help consumers quickly find properties that support the Eco Deals activity.
Enric Casals, regional VP of Agoda Southeast Asia and Oceania, said, “In a post-COVID world, people are more aware of their impact on the places and communities they visit when travelling and are actively looking for ways and means to make their ecological footprint smaller. Through Agoda’s Eco Deals initiative we provide consumers opportunities to ‘give back’ as part of our partners’ and Agoda’s social responsibility commitment.”
Casals continued, “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with WWF-Singapore to allow the Agoda community of travellers, partners and employees to work together to help revitalise marine habitats and protect wildlife across this region.”
Meanwhile, R. Raghunathan, CEO of WWF-Singapore, shared, “WWF-Singapore is well positioned to drive positive change in the Coral Triangle and wider region, home to the world’s epicentre of marine biodiversity. We look forward to working with Agoda in this partnership to support the conservation of marine ecosystems in this region.”
Singapore – Global travel platform Agoda has announced its partnership with Visa, to offer interest-free credit card instalments across its booking platform. To enjoy this benefit, Visa cardholders will simply need to enter their credit card details at the point of checkout. An instalment option will appear for eligible cardholders. Following this, travellers can select their preferred instalment period via Agoda’s mobile app and website, with no additional charges or fees.
Agoda will be the first global Online Travel Agency (OTA) to offer this payment option with Visa in the Asia Pacific region. These instalments can now be exclusively enjoyed by HSBC Bank Malaysia credit cardholders.
Thi-Mai-Linh Bui, CFOat Agoda, said that as the world transitions from a pandemic to an endemic state, there is great demand for digital-first experiences to accommodate for changing consumer behaviours and purchasing patterns.
“At Agoda, we are always looking for innovative ways to help people gain more accessibility – using technology to simplify the search, booking and payment processes. We are happy to be working with a global leader like Visa to empower travellers who might have previously found it inconvenient to pay for their booking in one lump sum, to spread their purchases over multiple payments – allowing for greater flexibility and peace of mind.”, said Bui.
In the coming years, Visa and Agoda will progressively roll out this offering regionwide to locations like Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines, each with respective issuing banks.
Conor Lynch, head of consumer solutions of Asia Pacific at Visa, commented, “The buy now, pay later trend is here to stay, so add instalments to the list of consumer expectations for speed, safety and convenience, even when they’re booking their holidays.”
“We’re excited for Agoda to join the growing list of businesses in Asia Pacific giving their customers the ability to pay in instalments. It’s particularly great to see instalment payments taking off in the travel industry at the same time people are getting their ‘revenge travel’ plans underway,” Lynch added.
Bangkok, Thailand – As more international borders are starting up to open up again to boost tourism, many foreigners are now searching for their next travel destination. And for this year, the Asian country of Thailand emerged as the most-searched global destination foreigners want to travel to, according to the latest data from digital travel platform Agoda.
According to the data, Japan, the United States and Singapore are the markets most keen to head back to Thailand following the local government’s efforts to revitalise international tourism with initiatives such as Thailand Pass and the Sandbox programme.
Other markets interested in visiting Thailand include the United Kingdom, France, and Switzerland, as well as South Korea, Maldives, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
Damien Pfirsch, chief commercial officer at Agoda, said, “While the government has made great efforts to help streamline the booking experience for travellers gearing to get back out there, with Test & Go, Sandbox and Thailand Pass, it can be daunting and time consuming for international travellers to keep track of these requirements, and the processes needed.”
Pfrisch added that they have worked on integrating its booking data seamlessly to the Thailand Pass platform in order to help travellers upload booking details automatically, reducing the room for human error.
To aid with this anticipated influx of travellers, Agoda has collaborated with Finema, the technology company responsible for the development of Thailand Pass on behalf of the Department of Consular Affairs, under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“At Agoda, we want to make the customer travel experience as hassle-free as possible. We understand that the new world of travel is going to come with its fair share of challenges and want to help make it easier with our tech expertise. With this partnership, and many others we are working on in the region, we hope to help our customers through their pre-departure journeys,” Pfrisch concluded.
Singapore – Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and digital travel platform Agoda, have collaborated on a joint marketing campaign to bring more visitors from Southeast Asia into Singapore.
Through the partnership, Agoda’s technology and travel expertise, data insights and integrated marketing capabilities will be utilised to showcase Singapore’s travel experiences. This marks the first direct partnership between STB and Agoda to better capture travel demand as border restrictions begin to lift in the region.
Enric Casals, director of Agoda, said, “Globally headquartered in Singapore across our 16 years of operation, our biggest focus has always been in bringing ease to the world of travel. Singapore is a bustling city centre at the heart of Asia with so much to offer its visitors from the region. With this partnership, we are glad to lend our insights and innovative marketing to help STB optimise footfall to our home base.”
He added, “Agoda strives to be a supportive partner to the governments and communities we operate in, and we hope this will be the first in a longstanding partnership with the Singapore government, towards stimulating the tourism economy,”
Meanwhile, John Gregory Conceicao, executive director of Singapore Tourism Board, shared, “As borders gradually re-open, it is important for the industry to collaborate and drive our travel sector forward. That is why we are delighted to collaborate with Agoda in Southeast Asia, which is a significant market that will play a key role in tourism recovery. Here in Singapore, we are reimagining the visitor experience to make each trip a meaningful exploration of our island.”
“Through this partnership, and with the insights and knowledge that each partner brings to the table, we can reach a wider audience and invite them to rediscover Singapore and our vibrant neighbourhoods, variety of delicious food and unique attractions,” Conceicao added.
Manila, Philippines – The travel trend to ‘escape’ to more off-beat destinations dominates Filipinos’ New Year’s Eve (NYE) plans, but the preference to stay in the metro still tops their choice for the celebration.
According to a report by digital travel platform Agoda, Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, came out as the number one destination for Filipinos’ NYE plans. Aside from the vibrant and crowded city of Manila, the report shows that travelers also prefer to celebrate their New Year in the country’s popular tourist attraction Boracay, landing at the second spot.
Meanwhile, Cebu ranked third for its rich history and proximity to multiple islands, while the fourth spot was nabbed by Tagaytay, which is close to the city center that offers scenic views of the Taal lake volcano. Lastly, Baguio, ended at fifth, with Filipinos’ wanting to make the most out of the ‘sweater’ weather.
Moreover, new joiners Bohol, which is known for its chocolate hills, and the hustle and bustle city of Davao made it to the list of popular destinations for the New Year, knocking off Laguna and Iloilo off the top ten list.
Timothy Hughes, Agoda’s vice president of corporate development, noted that their data shows that in addition to the big city, traditional, celebration destinations, travelers across Asia are showing their ongoing desire to escape the constrictions and controls of pandemic impacted cities.
He further shared that the appeal of Asia’s beaches, stunning scenery, and freedom of open space has people heading for the coast and mountains in droves.
“Data shows that Taiwanese and Thai travelers are booking higher star category hotels compared to last year. Joining travelers from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Korea, and Vietnam in the hunt for a luxurious end to a tough 2021,” said Hughes.
The report also found that in Asia, the preference for four to five-star hotels is even stronger with Taiwan and Thailand travelers upgrading from one to three-point-five-star accommodation for New Year’s Eve this year, joining Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, and Vietnam travelers who continue to choose 4-5 star venues to celebrate the arrival of 2022. Meanwhile, in India, one to three-point-five-star hotels remain popular among travelers, reflective of trends in 2020.
Singapore – With travel slowly resuming across the world, digital travel platform Agoda has expanded its service to now include wholesale distribution through the new platform ‘Beds Network’. Said platform launch aims to help properties around the world distribute their wholesale rates more efficiently and effectively.
‘Beds Network’ leverages Booking Holdings’ connection to over 10,000 affiliate partners network across various markets and verticals such as airline partners, offline travel agencies, credit card companies and more. In addition, Beds Network’s partners will also access Agoda’s distribution technology to increase productivity of their inventory.
‘Beds Network’ has been launched into 20 markets across Asia, Europe and Middle East, including: Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Portugal, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, with the view to expand globally in 2022.
Speaking about the ‘Beds Network’ launch, Liyana Jamil, associate vice president of Beds Network, said that they saw an opportunity to innovate and enter a new sector in the middle of the need of hotel partners for a more flexible solution to revenue planning and inventory distribution. In addition, she remarked that with them having a strong B2B network in the industry and partners, they can deliver results for their booking customers and believes that ‘Beds Network’ will effectively aid hotels to profitably recapture travel demand.
“With the launch of our Beds Network team, we have found a solid solution that allows hotel partners to spend less time on negotiating contracts and bureaucracy, and more driving strategy to improve their inventory productivity,” Jami stated.
She added, “Our B2B partners, whether its airlines, banks or offline travel agents, will also benefit from the increased access to [a] wider range of properties and their rates through our platform, creating a win-win situation within the travel industry. We aim to make things as simple as possible for our partners and we are growing our team to sustain the demand generated since our soft launch in multiple markets including Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan.”
Singapore – Shopee has taken a new direction to their evolving e-commerce platform, this time partnering with online travel agencies and hotel booking platforms Agoda and Booking.com to offer its newest hotel booking offering on the Shopee platform, aptly called Shopee Hotel.
Through this exclusive partnership, Shopee users will now be able to access one of the largest online inventories of hotels, resorts, homes, and apartments supplied by Agoda and Booking.com. The new feature will be rolled out across seven markets including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
In addition, Shopee Hotel will provide users with greater savings and exclusive travel deals, while also increasing the reach and visibility of hotel partners to boost domestic and international tourism.
“The launch of Shopee Hotel is timely in meeting the needs of consumers, as domestic and international travel gradually re-opens in the region, and more people are planning holidays. Agoda’s search data in September revealed that searches for domestic stays have risen by over 57% compared to May this year. There has also been an increase of 37% more users in Southeast Asia searching for international destinations,” Shopee said in a press statement.
The platform allows the planning of travel itineraries within the app as well. As users browse for accommodations, they will be able to discover top landmarks near their chosen hotels, which can help them to explore local enclaves, neighborhoods, and attractions.
“We are pleased to partner with leading travel platforms, Agoda and Booking.com to launch Shopee Hotel, which serves to provide our users with easy access to a wider variety of travel products and experiences. We also look forward to supporting the recovery of local travel and related tourism industries by promoting fun staycation ideas together with hotel partners. We invite everyone to travel safely and earn greater savings by booking their next holiday through Shopee Hotel,” said Terence Pang, chief operating officer at Shopee.
Meanwhile, Damien Pfirsch, chief commercial officer at Agoda, noted that with travelers knowing and trusting Agoda and Booking.com to help make travel easier, their partnership with Shopee will help accelerate the recovery of the domestic and global travel and tourism industry in the long term.
“This partnership with Shopee, the first with a regional e-commerce partner, will conveniently bring these great deals to Shopee customers, on a platform they are familiar with. At the same time, we can better support our hotel partners and tourism operators by connecting them to the biggest online community of shoppers in Southeast Asia,” Pfrisch said.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – To show support for the vaccination movement, there has recently been a bandwagon of brands offering attractive discounts to individuals that will be fully vaccinated. This is in hopes of cushioning the level of vaccine hesitancy that is obviously present in different nations.
On the side of travel brands, booking platform in Asia, Agoda, has today piloted a campaign ‘Vaxxed To Go’ in Malaysia that would see its accommodation partners incentivizing fully vaccinated travelers special travel deals and benefits.
Through this campaign, Agoda hopes to galvanize others in the travel and hospitality industry to come together and play a part in helping the country return to normalcy. Agoda said that the current campaign is in support of Malaysia’s nationwide immunization drive.
The ‘Vaxxed To Go’ campaign follows the implementation of Malaysia’s National Recovery Plan (NRP), which places vaccination as one of the three key threshold indicators to determine the gradual re-opening of economic and social activities.
With Agoda’s Vaxxed To Go initiative, accommodation providers will be able to get behind the national vaccination effort and benefit from bookings from travelers who are vaccinated and looking for safe ways to travel.
Hotel partners that will be joining the campaign will be able to benefit from the support of Agoda’s comprehensive marketing efforts for the campaign which expects increased visibility and exposure to participating properties.
Engagement will span across a range of marketing channels including social media, banner promotions, and pop-ups. One of the benefits as well for brands is that consumers will be able to easily browse through their ideal ‘Vaxxed to Go’ packages through dedicated landing pages.
Cleland Robertson, Agoda’s country director for Malaysia and Brunei, commented that after months of lockdown and movement restrictions, many Malaysians are no doubt looking forward to traveling again as it becomes safe to do so. Robertson said that Malaysians have always had a healthy appetite for travel, and so with the concept of ‘Vaxxed To Go’, Agoda hopes to encourage more Malaysians to feel safe and confident to travel again, and to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Aside from safeguarding public health, increased inoculation rates will be crucial in kickstarting the recovery of the nation’s economy as a whole and particularly that of the travel and hospitality sector. Agoda also hopes to inspire other industry players to play their part in helping Malaysia achieve herd immunity as soon as possible,” said Robertson.
Discounts within the campaign will also have value-added perks such as room upgrades, or food and beverage discounts. Properties may also list special packages for on-site experiences, from resort activities to spa and wellness deals.
“Vaxxed To Go’ is an extension of the Agoda Special Offers offering, which was launched in May in several other markets. Malaysia is only its pilot market for the campaign, and Agoda said that it aims to roll out ‘Vaxxed To Go’ in more markets in the coming months.
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.
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