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The AirAsia-Expedia joint venture views Thailand as primed for online travel expansion. Partnering with an airline is a different model than both Expedia (eLong) and the Priceline Group (Ctrip) are pursuing in China. The marketing power of Ctrip and eLong may turn out to be the more beneficial formula, but the jury is out.
AirAsiaGo, one of Asia’s fast-growing online travel portals, is expediting its expansion in Thailand to cash in on the trend for online travel booking.
Yesterday’s announced launch of a $10 million technology platform, engineered by travel technology giant Expedia, that it believes will be instrumental to its aggressive growth plan.
The launch coincides with the offer of significant travel discounts for a week.
A total of 5,000 seats will be on offer to destinations in the network of Asia’s largest low-cost carrier, AirAsia.
The deals start from 100 baht ($3.12) for AirAsia tickets, with hotel discounts of up to 65% to popular destinations such as Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phuket, Surat Thani, Udon Thani, Bangkok, Macau, Singapore, Hanoi, Mandalay and Shenzhen.
AirAsiaGo, one of two brands owned and managed by Singapore’s AAE Travel Pte, a joint venture between Expedia and AirAsia, has consolidated its resources.
AAE chief executive Kathleen Tan said her company chose Thailand as one of the first few countries to launch AirAsiaGo’s new website due to the country’s immense online travel potential.
“We aim to tap Thailand’s fast-growing middle-class segment, and its people’s changing lifestyle where leisure travel has become more frequent — especially among the younger generation — with an appetite for discovering new experiences,” she said.
Through the services, it will also bring more international travellers to the country.
The website comes with a new look and feel, larger hotel inventory and better deals along with the ability to handle more users at the same time, Ms Tan said.
AirAsiaGo’s hotel inventory in Thailand is being ramped up from 3,000 hotels at present to 4,000 by year-end and 6,000 next year.
Ms Tan said online bookings in Thailand represented 25% of overall transactions compared with 35% in Singapore and Malaysia, offering room for growth.
“We’ll be tapping the growing travel market in the Asia-Pacific region, which is projected to reach 9 trillion baht by 2015, with 2.4 trillion expected to come from online sources compared with 1.3 trillion in 2010,” she said.
On a global basis, AirAsiaGo offers 300,000 hotels and 400 airlines for holiday packages, flights and hotel bookings. ___