Now that all travel restrictions have been lifted across the region, APAC tourism is back in a big way – bringing with it many opportunities for growth.
We’ve collected together some insights from around the industry – as well as new announcements from our own products – to help you make the most of the moment.
APAC travel is bouncing back fast
At our recent Elevate event, Hermione Joye – Sector Lead for APAC Travel at Google – shared that APAC has surpassed other regions in its recovery, with Google’s research showing that APAC’s demand for international travel up 85% on 2019 levels, and domestic travel up 52%.
She also shared that two of the top five countries for travel demand are in APAC (India and Japan), with APAC accounting for 25% of demand from the top 20 countries.
This is certainly reflected in Booking Holding’s data, with room night growth in Asia hitting 40% in Q2 – making it the fastest growing region in the world for Booking Holdings. This trend seems likely to continue, with Booking.com research showing that 73% of APAC travellers are maintaining unwavering optimism for their travel plans in the next 12 months.
We’re also seeing a rise in intra-regional and domestic travel, driven in part by cost factors. APAC travellers are increasingly likely to search for deals or travel in off-peak periods. This doesn’t mean that all APAC travellers are spending less, it just means they’re more conscious about where that money goes.
Beyond discounting, our recently-launched Value Adds features allows you to set up rate plans that also include additional services, like food and beverage packages, spa treatments or parking – allowing you to offer guests more without lowering your prices.
Sponsored ads are now available in APAC
When it comes to sponsorship, we’ve recently partnered with some big APAC sports and mega events – including the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the ICC Cricket World Cup in India, and Sydney WorldPride – to help engage APAC travellers and help you reach more potential guests.
We've also launched a direct way for you to reach more guests too – with Sponsored Ads.
We know that more than 80% of bookings on Booking.com are received by properties shown on the first page. This change now allows APAC partners to bid to appear in these top spots.
With cost per click starting from just $0.50, and with APAC currently seeing a return on advertising spend of 17 for every dollar invested, sponsored ads could be an effective way to help you target and reach specific high-value customer groups.
Facilitated Payment is making it even easier for travellers to pay you
Our FinTech business – now around 900 people across four locations including Bangalore and Shanghai – have been busy introducing Facilitated Payment in APAC.
This allows guests to pay Booking.com directly, with the payment to the properties then coming from us through either a virtual credit card or a bank transfer. For you, this means you can easily offer guests more ways to pay online, you can be sure to get paid what you are owed and you won’t have to deal with fraudulent online bookings.
AI is a big part of Booking.com – and more is coming
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been in the headlines a lot in the past year, but AI and machine learning have been an important part of Booking.com for a long time – with almost every partner and traveller interaction involving them in some way.
That functionality is about to get even more direct for travellers, with the launch of our AI Trip Planner.
By combining third-party large language model technology (ChatGPT) and our own machine learning models, we’ve created a conversational experience where travellers can describe broad or specific ideas, ask questions and refine their perfect trip in real time, generating a visual list with deep links to view more details.
This product is currently available in the US but will be scaling to additional languages and geographies – including in APAC – in 2024.
Sustainable tourism continues to grow
Sustainability remains an important priority for many, especially within APAC. Our Head of Sustainability, Danielle D’Silva, recently shared 80% of travellers globally say that travelling more sustainably is important for them – but these scores are often higher in APAC, such as Vietnam (96%), Philippines (97%) and India (99%).
It's increasingly on the agenda for policymakers too. For example, a recent bill in South Korea aims to fine companies for misleading sustainability claims, while Singapore aims to get 60% of their hotel stock to be sustainably certified by 2025.
Sustainability is important regardless of property size. In fact, at our recent Elevate 2023 event in APAC, Vikram Malhi, Co-founder of ZUZU Hospitality, shared that being a smaller property can sometimes bring advantages. He highlighted that smaller properties tend to source locally, have local staff and minimal waste management already, which could mean sustainability is less of a challenge than it is for many bigger hotels.
That means you’re never too small to start demonstrating your sustainability credentials. And with two thirds of Indian and Vietnamese travellers saying they’re willing to pay more for more sustainable travel options, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Security remains a priority
Security and fraud prevention have always been high priorities for us. At our recent Elevate event, Booking.com’s Business Information Security Officer, Stevan Bias, gave a greater sense of the scale of the challenge, as well as insights into how partners can protect themselves.
The key defense? Awareness. But even Stevan admitted the attackers are getting more sophisticated. “Even I, as a security professional and leader, have gone to click on links before thinking ‘I didn’t log in recently, so why am I getting a log-in prompt?’ Then I could go look at the details, and being a security analyst I can look at the headers of the email and realise that it’s fake. But it’s so hard to tell the difference.”
He also shared some of the tactics and technology that Booking.com use against attackers, including:
- Machine learning models – our advanced technology that detects unusual activity has prevented millions of fraudulent reservations from being processed
- Advanced Security Controls – we use advanced security controls such as throttling mechanisms, pattern detection, device identification and multi-factor authentication to help further protect you
- Response & Recovery – we have multiple incident response teams dedicated to different types of cyber-attacks and fraud
- APAC tourism is back – with room night growth of 40% in Q2 in Asia
- Sponsored ads are now available in APAC, and are currently offering a return on advertising spend of 17 times
- Facilitated Payment has been rolling out across APAC
- We’ve recently partnered with some big APAC sports and mega events to engage travellers and help you reach more potential guests
- Security remains a priority, with our teams and technology working diligently to help protect partners