Main Feature Marketing Southeast Asia

Rebuilding tourism after the pandemic: How the travel industry in PH is crafting its marketing recovery plan

Travel and tourism marketing has taken a different turn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The major tourism industries have ceased activities in response to travel restrictions, which include the closing of airports, hotels, and travel agencies, as well as restrictions on mass gatherings worldwide, amongst others. This inevitably spills over to consumption behaviour where tourists have drastically shifted their lifestyles, coming to realise the risk and safety of the global health crisis.

Two years after the pandemic outbreak, travel restrictions and quarantines are now being lifted around the world. Many countries have started various marketing and promotional tourism campaigns to support travel recovery. For instance, the tourism marketing agencies of Maldives and Malaysia have recently announced their efforts in boosting inbound travel. Thailand has also launched many travel campaigns this year, like the recent partnership of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Thai AirAsia, jointly promoting travel to Thailand in key ASEAN and South Asian markets by utilising the airline’s increasing regional flight network.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the country’s Department of Tourism (DOT) has recently unveiled its new campaign called ‘It’s More Fun for All’, aimed at promoting inclusiveness and accessibility in the tourism sector. Moreover, DOT has launched a special playlist on Spotify, ‘Sounds More Fun in the Philippines’, which is a compilation of specially selected Filipino music that aims to welcome listeners back to the Philippine destinations they love, letting them relive epic travel memories. 

Another interesting campaign from DOT is the ‘ASMR Experience the Philippines‘ project, which seeks to bring people to certain destinations through ASMR videos that explore the natural sounds of a place, allowing one to tune into nature and be fully present in the moment.

As tourism in the Philippines has shown signs of bouncing back now that we are in the new normal, MARKETECH APAC’s The Inner State spoke with Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, Tourism Promotions Board Philippines’ (TPB) chief operating officer, and June Allenie Caccam, AirAsia’s head of marketing for the Philippines, to learn more about the marketing and promotional efforts of the travel and tourism industry today in the country.

Marketing and brand strategy of the Philippines’ tourism sector

While the pandemic has given the travel industry some pressing challenges, it also presented unique opportunities. According to Velasco-Allones of TPB, physical events and out-of-home advertising, which were very strong avenues for MICE and business travel promotions in the Philippines, were rendered moot at the height of the pandemic. However, the lockdown became an opportunity for the destinations to recuperate and recover from over-tourism.

At the same time, the Philippines took this time to rebuild a greener and more sustainable tourism industry. This allowed them to revitalise the tourism products they were going to market as soon as borders reopened.

“We increased our support to community-based tourism sites, providing various assistance in terms of enhancing capacities, particularly retooling skills in areas like digital marketing and leveraging the use of social media. Coincidentally, the pandemic made more tourists aware of the carbon footprint they leave when travelling; they now prefer less crowded destinations and those that support local communities,” said Velasco-Allones. 

Meanwhile, for airlines, Caccam listed some of the challenges they faced during the outbreak. This includes questions on safety, the uncertainty of lockdowns, changing intercity travel protocols, and emerging new COVID-19 variants, as well as the expenses to travel due to testing protocols and quarantine requirements.

“Along with the challenges came opportunities because people were forced to learn to adapt to new technologies and be more present online. Most brands fast-tracked their digital pivot to address the changing customer habits,” said Caccam.

In terms of the influence and marketing strategy reorientation in reigniting travel, TPB has developed new avenues to reach its stakeholders in the digital space.

“The pandemic [also] allowed us to strengthen our domestic tourism program. We were able to promote lesser-known destinations, and, through intensive policy implementation on health and safety protocols, we were able to reopen particular destinations and curate more exclusive experiences,” said Velasco-Allones.

For AirAsia, Caccam said they had to go back to the drawing board and identify the new pain points of its customers and the additional steps needed to include in their booking and travel journey. The airline has maximised all its digital assets to push relevant content to alleviate customers’ uncertainty like disseminating information about the different travel requirements and reminding them of the travel protocols a few days before their flight. 

“We also leveraged on ‘collaborative tourism’ and strengthened our partnerships with different stakeholders in the tourism industry such as the Department of Tourism, local tours and restaurants, and hotel and resort partners,” she added.

As the pandemic-related travel restrictions are now being eased, there are factors the tourism sector considers when creating tourism campaigns during the new normal. For TPB, the imperatives in creating tourism campaigns post-pandemic are revisiting the new avenues where the audience consumes content, redirecting its efforts in building travel confidence, and making sure that its tourism products and services are both sustainable and inclusive for this discerning market of travellers. While for AirAsia, the campaigns are now more personalised based on the segment, destination, and travel behaviour.

Future of tourism in the Philippines

Technology in the tourism sector will primarily be adopted in its marketing and business engagement from the point of sale to the collection of feedback, according to TPB.

Velasco-Allones noted, “Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and the Metaverse are just new platforms by which we intend to engage our current and potential consumers. The unique virtual environments will allow for availment, enjoyment, and sharing of tourism experiences in a broader more visually immersive digital world.”

Meanwhile, Caccam shared, “These technologies such as AR/VR and meta verse are innovative and creative channels that can help brands acquire new customers, provide a wider reach and upsell new products by bringing to their homes the brand experience.”

And now that the Philippines’ borders are open to international tourists, the tourism sector is working continuously on improving the systems to ensure that visitors will have a seamless and still fun experience for the duration of their stay in the country. 

Velasco-Allones said, “One of our approaches is keeping our tourists up-to-date with the latest travel advisories and health requirements for local destinations through digital innovations. The TPB also continues to enhance its digital content development and distribution to make sure we are able to promote the Philippines on all relevant platforms.”

Caccam also shared, “AirAsia is a digital and lifestyle platform for everyone and we aim to be our customer’s everyday app. We are more than just an airline, we are a one-stop-shop for all your travel and lifestyle needs.”

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Jollibee’s latest campaign shows joy of eating out safely in new normal

Philippines Restaurant chain Jollibee together with its creative agency, Publicis JimenezBasic (PJB) tried to capture the unique experience of dining out in the new normal and the newfound joy that comes with spending time again with family and friends in the fast-food chain’s latest safety video. 

Titled ‘Salamat sa Joy ng Muling Pagsasama’, (Thank you for the joy of reunion), the video promotion features everyday circumstances including the little inconveniences in a fresh and optimistic outlook in life. Whether it’s the lead girl basking happily under the sun, or a family enjoying their time inside their car during rush hour, all the characters in the film are seen smiling widely at the chance to enjoy bonding moments again with friends and loved ones at the restaurant chain which has always been one of their favourite go-to places.

After two years of changing restrictions, ordinary moments that have taken a backseat like these have only become more special and appreciated. And this gratefulness is also shown in the faces of Jollibee’s store manager and crew, as the fully vaccinated store teams are eager to welcome customers back and provide a safe dining experience. 

Jollibee Philippines Assistant Vice President and Head of Brand PR, Engagement, and Digital Marketing, Arline Adeva, said, “As COVID-19 protocols are easing up, more Filipinos have become more confident and willing to eat out together with their families and friends once again. We want to assure them that Jollibee shares their joy and that our stores are safe venues to rekindle the joy of eating out with their loved ones.” 

To strengthen the message of newfound joy and appreciation that the brand hopes to convey, the video’s soundtrack used a rendition of Salamat (Thank you) by Filipino band The Dawn. The iconic song’s lyrics were altered a bit to fit the Jollibee brand and reflect Filipinos’ gratitude for “saya ng muling pagsasama” (fun of reunion). 

“We’re all experiencing a new kind of joy and this merits a song that captures the feeling and experience of being together again. We went through a lot of songs to find the one. But no other song could match the message of ‘Salamat.’ The feeling of gratitude, nostalgia, and appreciation for our togetherness now was already written with this song, and we only needed to make a few tweaks to reflect every little detail of joy in our lives today,” said the PJB creatives team.

Director Adrian Calumpang said, “It’s wonderful that Jollibee cares about their customers’ safety and well-being and it shows in how they regularly communicate this in their materials throughout these extraordinary times, all while sustaining their sincere message of joy.”Aside from the seemingly ordinary but sweet scenes of friends and family dining together, the director also highlighted the restaurant chain’s safety measures such as featuring fully vaccinated store teams, checking of vaccination cards for indoor dining, physical distancing, wearing of proper PPEs, and general upkeep and sanitation of the store.

Likewise, the creative team of Publicis JimenezBasic also expressed their collective excitement about the campaign, “We were all so excited to work on this project as we have been feeling the same sense of gratitude that is the exact message from the brand. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. We are all now going through the same experience of enjoying life outside, a stark contrast to the emptiness we’ve grown accustomed to for the past two years. Even going through daily traffic now is a welcome sight because it gives us a new feeling of being alive. Through this project, we were able to share that gratitude and joy.”

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Interactive digital journeys through gamification

Malaysia – The pandemic has changed the digital consumption habits of your everyday user. On average, digital consumption rose by over 30% since COVID-19 started. With the increase in digital consumption by consumers, one would assume that it is easier to grab the attention of your audience, however, the opposite is true.

Attention spans are at an all-time low – another byproduct of the pandemic. How then can marketers attract and retain the attention of their target audiences? One of the ways we can do this is through an ever-growing popular term, ‘Gamification’.

Gamification is “the concept of using game design elements in non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging.” By providing an immersive, engaging, and fun experience for users, it is more likely that we would be able to retain their attention which then, in turn, leads to association with your brand.

Unicom Interactive Digital (UID), a Malaysia-based digital company, that focuses on creating immersive experiences for its clients, offers a simple process for brands to start their gamification digital journey.

Through an entire library of games, brands would only need to choose one that is most relevant to their messaging and have it reskinned to its brand colors. Brands can mix and match however they like and can re-skin and customize them to suit their brand and messaging. In addition, the user journey has also been mapped out by the digital agency.

Some of the recent works of UID for brands Maxis, PepperLunch, and Tsubaki

For example, beauty brands could choose UID‘s Face Analysis system for product recommendations or security brands could reskin Space Invaders, or real estate companies could remodel Monopoly. The possibilities are endless.

Jason Yong, founder of UID, commented, “Build a door if opportunity doesn’t knock! The pandemic may have kept us indoors and grounded but it was no reason for us to stop trying. We can only adapt and keep striving in finding new ways to engage with our target audiences. We saw an opportunity to put our skills into helping brands bridge the physical divide with their audiences through gamification and we have never looked back since.”

Coupled with its backend dashboard, UID helps brands make sense of all that raw data the internet provides to deliver campaigns and activations in the new normal.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Targeting a new mindset amid the emerging urban exodus trend

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – There is an emerging trend that is reshaping the property landscape – urbanites are relocating to suburbs, or the phenomenon known as ‘Urban Exodus’. This ongoing trend of migration is accelerated by the onset of the global pandemic, giving the property industry a major makeover. As we move into the post-pandemic property market, there are three key factors reshaping the industry.

1. Growing Upward Social Mobility

The Malaysian housing preferences have changed, with many homebuyers looking to live away from the city. This is because suburban property is the manifestation of an everyday Malaysian’s homeownership dream – living in a large space with multifunctional rooms in a low-density neighborhood. From keeping up with the growth of children to taking care of aging parents, homebuyers are looking to upgrade their current home to a larger permanent living space in the suburbs to accommodate those needs. 

“The emerging mass affluent is a dominant force in the property landscape with their home-buying preferences. The paradigm shift in home-buying trends is a wake-up call for businesses to be mindful and prepared to evolve along with the market,” said Darien Mah, founder of FOREFRONT Group, which recently developed the house-buying app FOUN.

2. The Millennial Shift

Statistics revealed that the gap between income growth and property price is getting larger by the year, making the urban housing market unaffordable for many. A report by World Bank has also shown that there is a pattern of income stagnation and widening income gap among millennials, further decreasing the level of housing affordability. 

However, millennials are still looking for opportunities in the property market, hence why the affordability that comes with suburban living ticks all the boxes for this generation of homebuyers.

3. The New Normal

At the beginning of the 2020 global health crisis, everyone was confined in their homes and the city lost its luster. There is a growing trend where city dwellers are looking to trade their cozy apartments in the city for more spacious homes in the suburbs. 

Since the first movement control order (MCO) in Malaysia, having the luxury of car-porch workout or backyard farming has become a desirable aspect in life, or indeed, the new definition of suburbia chic. With remote work being a daily reality for many, urban dwellers no longer see the value of living in an overcrowded city.

This article is by FOUN.

FOUN is a one-stop property solution, developed by creative group FOREFRONT, that aims to empower the everyday Malaysian to achieve their housing goals while maintaining a balanced lifestyle.


SME Featured East Asia

Technology services provider Nexstgo enhances lineup of SME-catered business solutions

Hong Kong – Nexstgo, a Hong Kong-based technology services provider, is enhancing the product lineup of NEXSTMALL BIZ, the provider’s business solution catered to client small and medium enterprises.

Some of the services include one-stop professional IT services, remote conferencing and VPN security systems, together with a wide range of mobile computing products including branded services from tech companies VAIO and AVITA. 

Furthermore, Nexstgo ensures enterprises of any size and industry can find the most suitable software and hardware solutions on NEXSTMALL BIZ, helping businesses maintain the strongest performance under the continuously transforming business environment during the new year.

“Stepping into the new year, the ‘new normal’ commercial environment continues to affect business IT purchasing decisions. In order to help SMEs be successful in their digital transformation and adapt to the new reality of remote working, Nexstgo has enhanced its business solutions available through the NEXSTMALL BIZ platform to provide a more comprehensive technology application strategy focusing on the business and commercial field,” the company explained in a press release.

One of the aspects Nexstgo focuses among these releases is network security among customers and IT consulting services. Nexstgo has launched technological solutions specifically for network security management, including the installation of bank-level encryption software by Norton VPN for customers in business areas that require remote-work with a high level of integrated protection. Some include Targus Docking Station, which supports multiple USB interfaces and screen configurations; Targus Privacy Screen Filter, designed to protect high-value information; and Targus Security Cable Lock that locks the connection end of the transmission line to protect valuable resources on the device.

“As a strategic partner to SMEs, Nexstgo’s elite team also provides customers with professional IT support and technology operation consulting services, helping companies confidently achieve digital transformation and adapt to the ‘new normal’. These supporting services undertaken by the professional specialist team handle inquiries regarding computer products and software systems, and provide product management and technical support,” Nexstgo further stated.

Lastly, Nexstgo provides online and video conference software and hardware, such as NEXSTGO laptop products with dedicated functionality for online meetings equipped with a high-quality Dolby voice system, and artificial intelligence camera lens Huddly-IQ designed for remote video conferencing, and other related activities. 

“The package helps companies of all sizes to deliver excellent customer service, and to keep pace with fast-changing business environments. By taking advantage of these solutions and transforming into an e-commerce business – with the realities of the ‘new normal’ replacing traditional face-to-face service – companies can greatly increase their revenues, productivity and cost management performance,” said Nexstgo. 

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Philippine university rolls out virtual learning system that allows students self-paced learning until “mastery” is achieved

Manila, Philippines – Philippines-based university FEU Institute of Technology (FEU Tech) has released a proprietary learning system for its students, Mastery-based Individualized Learning Enhancement System (MILES), as its response to schools’ shift to a new normal amid the Pandemic. 

The country’s government has been firm in its decision to hold off face-to-face classes until the availability of a vaccine, urging schools from primary to tertiary levels to take learning online. While many have opted to leverage available online tools such as ZOOM to administer classes, FEU Tech has taken the liberty to create its own system for learning. 

MILES runs on online learning platform Canvas. The system differentiates itself from other virtual learning systems via its “Mastery Network,” wherein in every course, students are required to achieve a certain level of mastery in one topic before they can go study the next, eyeing a more targeted and goal-oriented learning.  

According to FEU Tech Executive Director Dr. Benson Tan, he and his team have high hopes for MILES because the program was built to address the learning gap of the often favored method of rote memorization which is not enough to integrate into students deep knowledge of a topic.

How the mastery network works, students will be given the option “to try as many times as they need,” until they have achieved a certain minimum score on a test that demonstrates mastery. Alongside this, the system offers asynchronous learning, where they can easily access learning materials online at any point in the day. 

FEU Tech explains in a press statement: “Take the subject of trigonometry. Under a normal classroom setting, students may only have a few weeks to fully master the sin, cos, and tan operations needed to find certain angles. With MILES, students can undergo a formative assessment as many times as they need to, solving different trigonometry problems each time. Eventually, the students will come out with a better understanding than if they were rushed.”

Within MILES, FEU Tech is also determined to give students a holistic experience, albeit virtually, of campus services. Through a Blue button in the Canvas platform, students will be able to reach out to school-bound departments such as the clerical office, the library, and even the guidance counselor. The same goes for the university’s faculty.


Through the same Blue button, students will be able to easily consult professors on the course material. For every course, faculty will be ready to answer questions as they come, where at least one professor is made available online from 7 am to 9 pm. 

“On top of a self-paced learning environment, our faculty are ready to lend assistance at any time, whether that means simply asking a one-off question about the lesson or even taking time to give students one-on-one tutorial sessions,” said Tan. 

FEU Tech is the dedicated technology institute of Far Eastern University (FEU), and was established in 1992 in the country. FEU currently has six tertiary level branches and one secondary school campus. Aside from FEU Tech, the MILES program so far has been launched to two of its other campuses; FEU Diliman and Alabang.

Main Feature SME Southeast Asia

65% of Singaporeans expect workplace will improve after COVID-19, says study

Singapore – Almost two thirds of workers in Singapore, or 65% of them expect that their industry will change for the better after COVID-19 due to the changes being implemented amid pandemic response, according to a research by customer experience tech Qualtrics.

The Qualtrics study surveyed 800 Singaporeans, and more than half, or 57% rated their employer’s response to the pandemic as “above average.”

With many people working from home during the pandemic, a large portion, 42% of respondents, said their employee experience has improved during the pandemic, while the same number said it has remained the same. 

The most effective actions employers have taken to make their teams feel more valued throughout this period leaned more on workplace flexibility with 51% of companies, followed by gratitude from the direct manager, and improved benefits, both with 21% of companies undertaking such measures.

“As a result of their employers’ quick thinking and actions, the majority of workers across Singapore say they feel a lot more valued at their company, and a lot more proud  to work for them,” Qualtrics SEA Head Mao Gen Foo said.

“While many have made steps in the right direction, businesses cannot afford to take their foot off the gas. Employees want to be listened to, and there is more change on the road ahead as people return and industries adapt,” added Mao Gen.

The new normal in the workplace

While employees have imparted the present measures their companies are undertaking, they  also gave insight into what actions they want to see more of from employers.

For 77% of Singaporeans, it’s important that their employer asks for feedback on what action can be taken to make them feel more confident about returning. 

Within such desired feedback, the study revealed that a flexible work schedule is the most coveted change that workers want to see in the workplace with 69% of them expressing it as a top concern.

This was followed by wanting companies to have a higher focus on personal hygiene with 44%, while about 39% said that actions should be taken to have greater focus on employee mental health. Meanwhile, almost the same number said that freedom to choose their work location is a factor.

Mao Gen said that while employees can agree prioritising safety and hygiene is essential moving forward, there is a slight gap between the actions they want to see, and which they expect to see outside of this. 

“Singaporeans want to see their employers continue to focus on offering more workplace flexibility – such as less time spent commuting, and wearing more comfortable clothing to work,” said Mao Gen.