Booking.com seeks partner expansion across region
Booking.com, one of the world's largest online reservation websites, is seeking to increase the number of its hotel and accommodation partners across Indochina, including Thailand, by 50% on average to serve growing demand from international tourists.
Parichat Haehnen, Booking.com's regional manager, sees high tourism growth potential in Indochina.
Parichat Haehnen, Booking.com's regional manager, said having more hotel and accommodation partners will make its website grow organically.
This will eventually strengthen its foothold across Indochina particularly in Thailand with the aim to maintain its status as one of strongest online travel agencies (OTAs) in this region.
Last year, Booking.com saw a sharp growth in hotel and accommodation partners in the region in the range of 35-40%. Around 15,000 partner properties were in Thailand and 2,500 properties in Cambodia. Some 1,000 properties were in Myanmar, 7,000 properties in Vietnam and 900 properties in Laos.
Among these countries, Laos is very new to Booking.com, so it had no full-year growth of hotel partners last year.
Thai tourism is one of the fastest growing and highest potential markets in the region for Booking.com as Thailand is a resilient country despite encountering natural disasters and political woes, Ms Parichat said.
"Thailand is the biggest market in the region for Booking.com, followed by Vietnam and Myanmar," she said.
She implied that there were no serious effects to Booking.com's business here over the past three to five years despite the political uncertainty and disasters.
Ms Parichat expects Booking.com's hotel partners in Thailand would reach 30,000 this year ranging from small hotels to five-star accommodation. There are some 20,000 hotels and other forms of accommodation in Thailand.
She also forecast that Thais will concentrate on domestic tourism thanks to cheaper airfares offered by low-cost airlines and more holidays announced by the government.
According to a research from Booking.com globally, the most popular international destination cities for Thais are Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Mt Fuji, London and Sapporo.
Booking.com predicted the fastest growing international destination cities for Thais this year would be Taipei, Shanghai, Hanoi, Guangzhou, Luang Prabang, Yangon, Zurich, Vientiane, Phnom Penh and Seoul.
The most popular domestic destinations for Thais are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Patong Beach, Chiang Rai, Cha-am and Ao Nang.
The fastest growing domestic destinations for Thais are Jomtien, Khoa Yai, Hat Yai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Surat Thani, Udon Thani, Kanchanaburi, Phi Phi Island, Ko Lanta and Phuket Town.
Thailand's international inbound markets that will see growth this year are Brazil, Argentina, Vietnam, Poland, Japan, India, South Korea, Russia, the USA and Malaysia.
Booking.com recently launched its first customer service centre in Bangkok at G Tower on Rama IX Road to serve Thai customers, whose accommodation bookings via the site have doubled in the past few years. The service centre will also benefit Chinese tourists, expats living in Bangkok and tourists from nearby countries.
Booking.com has offices in Bangkok, major provinces such as Chiang Mai, Phuket and Surat Thani (Koh Samui) and also in Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.