Be warned, Asia-Pacific: Booking.com has big ambitions for the region and wants to replicate the success it had in Europe.
The Priceline Group-owned online travel agency carved out a considerable position in Europe in the face of stiff competition and is already attempting to claw away at Expedia‘s market share in the US.
Booking.com’s strategy to tackle the US comes despite sister brand Priceline.com‘s long-standing role in the same consumer market.
It’s a family, but one that is extremely competitive within the walls of its own house (some might suggest it’s actually a sprawling estate).
And now, with fellow Priceline Group hotel booking service Agoda already operating and having a sizeable role in various parts of the APAC region, Booking.com is at it again.
The strategy is to “achieve the same as we have elsewhere”, says managing director for Asia-Pacific, Oliver Hua, despite being a relative late-comer to the market and having some other sizeable home-grown rivals with which to contend.
Speaking after a panel appearance at the WebInTravel conference in Singapore this week, Hua believes Booking.com’s biggest strength is a combination of its inventory and “geographic footprint”.
The existing Booking.com portfolio of hotels, B&Bs, rentals and homestays is now hitting the 1.2 million mark.
But the spread of product in cities that perhaps its rivals do not have as much exposure is where Hua sees it having an advantage.
These “second and third-tier cities”, as Hua calls them, are where outbound travellers from Asia-Pacific are heading to next after already experiencing one trip to Europe or North America.
First-timers usually head to places such as the popular tourist destinations of London, Paris, New York, Rome or Berlin on their first trip outside of Asia, Hua says.
This is where the existing players usually concentrate their efforts with both the marketing and inventory.
But Hua believes Booking.com has the opportunity to target those travellers that are already perhaps considering their second or third trip overseas, using its large array of properties in many other less high-profile destinations.
The often talked about “growing middle class” in the region will only expand the market of debutants-turned-seasoned tourists.
Such confidence doesn’t come without acknowledging the region is more diverse than any other market around the world (never treat Asia-Pacific as one entity, is a common remark from most of those that operate in it) and there are plenty of challenges to tackle.
There is no “common consumer behaviour pattern”, Hua says, so marketing is inherently different in each market and across various demographics.
The use of WeChat and other social networks as marketing channels — used almost exclusively on mobile devices — is different from parts of the world that Booking.com has traditionally operated in.
Hua admits the company “has not found the silver bullet”, but claims its early efforts are seeing it “do very well” in Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
It is worth remembering that Booking.com’s strategy for Asia-Pacific comes as sister metasearch brand Kayak claims it is ready to mount a serious assault on the market and the Priceline Groupincreases its stake in Ctrip, the massive online travel agency in China.
See original article at https://www.tnooz.com/article/booking-com-eyes-asia-global-domination/