The Expedia group, the world’s largest online travel company that includes Expedia.com, Hotels.comand other leading online travel brands, has released 2016 full-year data revealing the trends in hotel demand from international visitors to Thailand last year. Understanding the travel patterns of these visitors will assist Thai hoteliers to better target and capture incremental demand throughout the year by leveraging on the group’s international reach.
2016 proved to be a solid year for Expedia hotel partners in Thailand with all top ten international markets gaining double digit growth. This, coupled with the current initiatives from the Tourism Authority of Thailand to boost Thailand as a preferred destination1, 2017 looks to be another promising year for Thai hotels.
“Expedia is first and foremost a technology company operating in the travel sector. It analyses vast amounts of data from a diverse range of travellers from more than 75 countries in 35 languages, with more than 600 million site visits per month. It shares deep insights about traveller behaviour that can help our Thai hotel partners to optimise revenue by knowing when and where to target the right travellers at the right time with the right offer to help boost incremental demand,” said Pimpawee Nopakitgumjorn, director of market management at Expedia group.
|Expedia group’s top 10 international markets into Thailand (2016)|
|2||Hong Kong||7||South Korea|
|Top 5 destinations most popular with travellers who booked via Expedia group sites (2016)|
|1||Bangkok||+30% year-on year growth|
|2||Phuket||+20% year-on year growth|
|3||Pattaya||+40% year-on year growth|
|4||Koh Samui||+10% year-on year growth|
|5||Chiang Mai||+20% year-on year growth|
Key traveller insights from the group’s top five international markets:
- US travel was consistently high throughout the entire year, providing a steady flow of valuable demand to hoteliers. Demand did spike slightly in November and December and this can be partly attributed to an array of public holidays – such as Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas – which provided Americans the ability to take advantage of calendar holidays to maximise their annual leave.
- Although US visitors have the shortest booking window amongst the top five markets, they generate the highest Average Daily Rate in that 30 days booking window.
- About 75% of room night stays by US travellers are for 3-4 star properties in Thailand.
- While most Americans visited Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai, destinations such as Mae Hong Son (+180%), Koh Lipe (+170%) and Rayong (+90%) are gaining popularity with significant growth in year-on-year demand.
- Amongst the top 10 international markets, Thailand saw the highest growth from Hong Kong travellers, up by 1.5 times.
- Hong Kong proved to be the most valuable market, generating the highest Average Daily Rate amongst all international travellers.
- Visitors from Hong Kong peaked from June – September, which coincided with their summer break.
- While top destinations included expected cities like Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya, Hong Kong travellers are showing increasing interest in Krabi with a year-on-year growth of over 35%.
- Bolstered by the frequency of low cost carriers in the region, Hong Kong showed the largest year-on-year rise in package bookings at 80% growth (as compared to the top ten international markets into Thailand). Expedia’s dynamic packages are created by combining multiple products together like air, car and hotel, allowing travellers to save money. For Expedia’s hotel partners in Thailand, package bookings bring significant value. On average, Thai package bookings generate:
o 1.5 times longer length of stay
o A booking window 1.7 times longer
o More than 5% increase in Average Daily Rate and
o Results in 30% lower hotel cancellations when compared with standalone hotel bookings generated by the group.
- Hotel partners will be pleased to hear that Average Daily Rates paid by Japanese travellers was up last year.
- More Japanese travellers tend to visit Thailand during their summer break in the months of July – August as well as December.
- Similar to Hong Kong, the top three destinations loved by Japanese travellers were Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya.
UK and Australia
- British travel to the Land of Smiles starts high in November and December. January – March were also peak months for them as they visit Thailand in search of warmer weather.
- For the Australians, a large majority of them visit Thailand during the school holidays in December and January. March, July and October were also favourite months for them to visit.
- Australia and UK travellers demonstrate similar traits when it comes to booking and staying at hotels in Thailand.
o They like to be organised and secure their rooms well in advance, evident by their relatively longer booking window of over 1.5 months (about 50 days) as compared to other nationalities.
o For standalone hotel bookings, a large majority of them (80%) book 3-4 star hotels.
o Interestingly, when they make package bookings for Thailand on Expedia group sites, they are more likely to upgrade to 4-5 star hotels.
- While the top three destinations gaining popularity with Australians are Trat (80% year-on year), Hua Hin (60%) and Pattaya (50%), the British travellers are showing rising interest in visiting Koh Lipe (140% year-on year), Rayong (100%), Kanchanaburi (90%).
Pimpawee’s advice to hoteliers, ”Don’t just fill your hotel – fill it with the most valuable travellers. International visitors stay longer, book further in advance and are less likely to cancel. Today, they are more price sensitive than ever before. Diversifying your distribution strategy might give you a bigger slice of the international pie, better base inventory and higher Average Daily Rate.”
In addition, Pimpawee offers the following tips for hotels to get the most from international travelers:
- Give consumers the option of when to pay: Allowing consumers to have the choice of either paying for their hotel rooms at the time of booking or upon check-in enables hotels to increase their overall relevance to consumers. Expedia Traveler Preference allow hotel partners to enjoy increased conversion resulting in more bookings by having the flexibility to offer the ‘Pay Now’ and ‘Pay Later’ option. Because ‘Pay Now’ bookings are paid for in advance by customers, hotel partners will experience lower cancellation rates than customers who choose the ‘Pay Later’ option. ‘Pay Now’ also allows partners to set non-refundable rate plans, which further reduces cancellation rates and minimize the financial risks for partners as a result of last-minute cancellations and no-shows.
- Content is King: Invest in your online brochure. Hotels with high-quality photos, good reviews and accurate descriptions and location information, are the most likely to convert. If you’re based near BTS Sky Train or MRT underground tell travellers that. The Expedia Partner Central extranet (EPC) now gives hoteliers intelligent feedback on how to improve their hotel content.
- Be mobile: More and more savvy travellers are researching and booking travel on mobile devices which includes smartphone, tablets and wearables. According to Expedia group proprietary data for 2016, over 45% of the group’s traffic arrived via mobile and nearly 1 in 3 transactions were booked on mobile devices. Hotels who want to capture these travellers should consider having both a mobile web and app strategy. A partnership with the Expedia group gives hoteliers exposure across a wide range of travel brand apps and mobile web.
- Watch the market: See what your competitive set are doing in regards to rates and restrictions, and see how demand is progressing. Tools like EPC Marketwatch allows you to see these developments in real time, and make adjustments on the fly.