The evolution of Booking.com in APAC

Exclusive interview: Angel Llull Mancas, Vice President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, Booking.com

The Dutch Online Travel Agency, Booking.com has been present in the Asia-Pacific region for 11 years. In an interview with Angel Llull Mancas, Vice President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, Booking.com we asked him about the current trends in online bookings in the region.

With increasing mobile penetration globally and consumers in Asia being at the forefront of all things mobile, travellers are looking to their mobile devices to help them do more, see more and experience more before, during and after their trips. Today, more than 50% of accommodation reservations on Booking.com happen through mobile devices. Intra-region travel is also burgeoning with the influx of low-cost carriers, simplified visa processes and growth in supply. That being said, we also see similar online booking trends that transcend the region. Globally, we continue to see an increasing overlap between business and leisure travel, with people increasingly tying personal travel into a business trip. We’re also seeing a demand for more unique experiences and the appetite to explore different places to stay.

ASIA IS A REGION IN WHICH WE’RE SEEING CONTINUED GROWTH AND IT CONTINUES TO BE A FOCUS FOR OUR BUSINESS.

Which regions are emerging?

Asia is a region in which we’re seeing continued growth and it continues to be a focus for our business. It is certainly a region with many unique aspects and challenges. On the one hand, you have markets such as Japan, Singapore and Thailand, with an extremely strong inbound booker market and well-developed tourism industries. There are also markets that are just opening up to tourists, like Myanmar, and markets that are quite fragmented within themselves such as Indonesia. It is an extraordinary region with many complexities and many amazing destinations for visitors locally and globally to experience.

How are you working in India?

India is an important market for us where we see a lot of growth potential. We opened our first office in Mumbai in 2012 with just 4 employees, and we now have over 80 employees across 4 offices in the country. We offer close to 45k properties in the country, which represents thousands of listings across traditional hotels as well as homes, apartments and other types of unique places to stay. We are a meaningful player today in the market, with Booking.com having grown at about 68 per cent in 2017-18 in terms of supply.

You have been moving into the home and room rental market. How is that coming along?

What most people don’t realise is that the first apartment on Booking.com was listed in 2000, before Airbnb ever even existed. Through our rigorous A/B testing, also known as bucket testing, we learned early on that travellers want options in one place. They may not always want to stay in a home or in a hotel, so showcasing our breadth of offerings is what customers want. Now, we see other sites following suit. Today this is a big and very important business for us. We have seen over 3 billion guest arrivals at Booking.com across all properties since 2007, with 750M guest arrivals in our alternative accommodations segment alone since 2007. Booking. com also doesn’t charge customer fees. What we’re striving towards is providing travellers with the widest selection of offerings and leveraging technologies like AI and machine learning to narrow down the options to help them make their decisions.

 

How important is ITB Asia for you as a platform for networking?

I always look forward to ITB Asia. It’s a great moment to catch up with many of our key business contacts, but also to come together with thought leaders from across the industry, evaluate the trends that are shaping the future of our business and get inspired by the incredible work that’s being done around Asia and throughout the world.


Photo: Angel Llull Mancas, Vice President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, Booking.com