Expedia to add 400 hotel partners in HK push

November 24, 2014 17:35
Expedia group's Kathleen Tan sees mid-double-digit growth for the Hong Kong online travel market next year. Photo: Expedia

Online travel agency Expedia Inc. (EXPE.US) plans to introduce 400 more hotel partners in Hong Kong as part of efforts to boost its business here, a senior executive said.

"The hotels will range from expensive five-star ones to three-stars budget hotels as more young people are turning to online booking from traditional offline travel agencies," Kathleen Tan, chief executive of AirAsia Expedia, told reporters in Hong Kong Monday. 

AirAsia Expedia is a joint venture between Malaysia-based low-cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia Bhd. and the Expedia group. It has more than 200 hotel partners in Hong Kong.

Expedia operates localized websites for travelers. It launched one in Hong Kong in July last year.

"The web traffic of the Hong Kong Expedia site is expected to see 30 to 40 percent growth next year,” Tan said. The site draws about 2 million visitors as of now, compared with 100,000 during the launch.

Gross booking value of the Hong Kong site was up 380 percent as of October this year compared to the launch month, while hotel and flight package sales have risen ten-fold over the same period, Tan said.

She believes Hong Kong has big room for online travel business expansion as many consumers in city are still relying on traditional agencies as of now. The Expedia group claims to have 8 percent market share in the city.

Online travel industry here has not grown as fast as that in Southeast Asia. One of the key reasons is that LCCs are not as active in Hong Kong as they are in the other regions, Tan said.

However, the situation is going to change in the coming years, she said.

More than 80 percent of Hong Kong people said they would travel with a budget airline in the future, according to a survey by Expedia. The group polled 600 locals, of whom nearly 90 percent said ticket pricing is the most appealing factor about LCCs.

"We expect a mid-double-digit growth for the Hong Kong online travel market next year, given the fact that the base is still small," Tan said.

Expedia uses big data to offer convenience and personalized user experience for consumers. The group has invested US$500 million on its in-house technology to offer convenient and personalized experience for travelers.

For the Asian joint venture, improving the tour servicing platform is a key priority for next year.

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Ayishah Ma is a financial reporter on Greater China issues.