Affiliate Marketing

Travel Industry Post Pandemic: Business And Marketing Strategy That Will Work

On the 18th of March 2021, ACCESSTRADE Global organised AT Summit 2021 with the aim to bring together and appreciate key players in the affiliate marketing industry all over the world. 

Successfully held, the virtual global conference of performance marketers promoted healthy market growth to help them mutually share, learn about, and discover new insights. First held in 2017, the summit continues to grow as a global conference that brings together merchants, publishers, and agencies representing Japan and Southeast Asian countries.

In an insightful panel discussion titled “Travel Industry Post Pandemic: Business And Marketing Strategy That Will Work”, moderator Hayato Nakata, CEO of ACCESSTRADE Malaysia and COO of ACCESSTRADE Singapore with two panelists: Jayden Purna, Product Marketing Lead of Traveloka, and Emily Tan, Marketing Lead of KLOOK Malaysia 

talked in-depth about the issues faced by the travel industry during the pandemic and the business and marketing strategies that will work best moving forward. 

Here are some of the issues highlighted and discussed during the panel discussion. 

How has the pandemic changed the travel industry and particularly your business since last year?

The speed at which everything in the travel industry changed impacted the industry greatly. According to Jayden, the stakeholders in the travel industry needed to respond at an even greater speed. 

Meanwhile, KLOOK with its global presence of more than 20 markets faced its biggest challenge that was the uncertainty of each market and its recovery. Some countries like Taiwan and Singapore contained the COVID pandemic early on while some countries like Malaysia are still being affected by the pandemic. Emily shared that KLOOK had to move away from a centralised marketing effort to a decentralised approach due to this unique situation. The company tailored its marketing strategies and its products to make them relevant and appeal to the local market. 

“We immediately started to put together what we called where it’s a series of a home-based online experience including D.I.Y and things like home exercises that you could do virtually.” 

“I do believe that the pandemic has given the industry an opportunity to dive deeper into what consumers really want and to experience in our own backyard and build hyper-local products from here. So, I believe that the effort won’t go to waste because when international travel resumes, we will only be in a stronger position because we already understand our customers so well and know what kind of experiences they want,” said Emily. 

In terms of marketing, what has been the biggest or unexpected challenge during the pandemic and how did you overcome these challenges? Did you implement new strategies? 

According to Emily, 

“At the start of the pandemic when COVID escalated and MCO was announced, customers were definitely in a state of panic and they need to immediately shelve their travel plan. So, they were a lot of inquiries coming in like whether what should they do now, how to request for a refund and updates on things like closures regards to their travel bookings.”

“We wanted to keep our fans informed in the latest development in travel space and encourage them to stay curious and hopeful whether through Instagram or some of our close community group of travel. We also worked on the content that was entertaining and engaging and used this as an opportunity to launch Klook Live. It’s an in-apps live stream function available on our Klook apps and it offers entertaining and spontaneous video content. So, we invited some of the customers’ favourite influencers to host episodes while making the content useful by giving recommendations on what to do over the weekend, hotel reviews, and the likes. 

“So, what we did was really to foster a deep connection with our customers and focus on building trust and confidence and happy to share that the result speaks for itself because we managed to sustain high engagement with our customers throughout COVID.”

She further elaborated that, this move is crucial because people will remember how a brand responded to them during the time of crisis, and when it’s time for them to make travel booking again, they will go back to KLOOK based on the trust built during the pandemic. 

As for Traveloka, Jayden explained that the needs of the customer changed post-pandemic and they were allowed to travel domestically. 

“For accommodation, for example, after the pandemic happened two things that we learned that the customer wants are feasibility and safety. They want to ensure that they have the feasibility so they can cancel it if something happens, they can just use it later and safety measure is very important for them because they want to enjoy their holiday. But, they are still afraid of the COVID situation even though when you are going staycation the COVID affectability rate is only below 5%, said Jayden. 

Hence, Traveloka came up with “Buy now, stay later” packages that will enable customers to have the freedom of using it when they feel safe. The program has been launched in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia. Apart from that, Traveloka is also working closely with the local government and WHO to create a standardised safety guiding kit for hotels and work closely with the country’s tourism board to get closer to the people. 

The vaccination drive is going full swing all over the world. What do you think will be the sentiment moving forward? What is your strategy for this year? 

According to Emily, 

“I do think this is the time for us to continue sharpening our product offering to ensure we have the activities to cater to the local traveler. One example is staycation. Google Search also pointed to the same trend with an increase in searches related to staycation, glamping which shows that people do have a preference for outdoor activities In short, people are looking for an escape, basically itching to get out of the house. 

“We have also evolved to be more than just a travel company, we have also started creating more lifestyle offerings like food and dinings like movies and events as well to bring more things to do for the locals. This is especially important when not everyone feels safe enough to travel yet at this point. So, at the same time, we have been talking to the local tourism board to roll out interesting initiatives to boost domestic travel.

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