Online travel agency Agoda pins hopes on Asia’s domestic tourism to drive revenue

Asia-focused online travel agency Agoda is counting on a revival of domestic tourism in parts of the region to help it weather the coronavirus pandemic, its top executive said on Monday.

Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan are among the top markets where domestic tourism activity was returning, chief executive John Brown told Reuters in an interview, reflecting their success in containing outbreaks.

With international travel restrictions in place to halt the contagion, the company is relying on domestic markets for its revenue, such as Thailand, where local bookings were up 20% from last year, he said.

Thailand in April banned commercial flights and foreign tourists, but has been offering travel incentives locally to try to fill that void.

Its resort island of Phuket will from this month start receiving a limited number of long-stay visitors from countries deemed low-risk, who must undergo quarantine.

Thailand has recorded just 3,590 confirmed cases with barely any local transmission in months. Vietnam has seen just over 1,000 cases in total, after it quickly contained a second outbreak in August.

“People who can’t go overseas are substituting that with domestic bookings,” Brown said, adding that travellers were booking higher quality hotels and travelling to new places.

Prior to the crisis, domestic travel accounted for half of Agoda‘s bookings.

The pandemic, however, is incomparable with other crises and the company in May cut 1,500 jobs, leaving it with 4,000 employees altogether.

“We’re at a lean size right now and we can survive the storm indefinitely,” he said, adding that no further cuts were anticipated.

Brown expects travel to return to pre-crisis levels shortly after coronavirus vaccines become available, due to pent-up demand, but said business travel may not rebound so quickly as companies became more familiar with virtual meetings.

Singapore-based Agoda, founded in Phuket in 2005, said its advantage over rivals comes from its relationships with Asian hotels and its share of inventory from parent company, Booking Holdings Inc.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.