Expedia eyes triple digit growth in Malaysia again

27 Oct 2014 / 05:39 H.

PETALING JAYA: US-based Expedia, the world's largest online travel company, expects its transactions in Malaysia to continue registering triple-digit growth, said its general manager for Asia, Vikram Malhi (pix).
"Everything has to be above 100%, that's the goal, there is a huge potential for the Malaysian market… It's a very successful two years for us (in Malaysia), we've been growing for triple digit (in transaction) in the last two years," he told SunBiz in an interview recently.
Vikram said despite Expedia being relatively new in the Asian market, he is confident that it is "at the right place and right time".
Expedia provides a wide range of over 325,000 hotels and 400 airlines of holiday packages, flights and hotel bookings.
It entered the Asian market six years ago, starting off with India and Japan. It is now also in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Korea.
Vikram said the range of offerings by Expedia will continue to increase to keep pace with the travel industry.
"From the customer perspective, you would want someone on your behalf go out and get good stuff for you, that's really the most powerful thing," he stressed.
Vikram opined that local players are unable to compete with Expedia in the same field due to the huge investment needed to start up.
"No one in the market offers the combination of 400 airlines and 350,000 hotels, instead of going to three different places to book flight, hotel and activities, (but) at Expedia, you can buy everything," he added.
Last year, Expedia spent US$600 million to US$700 million (RM1.94 billion to RM2.27 billion) in technology investment to ensure that its platform is user-friendly. This year it announced plans for a US$703 million purchase of Wotif.com Holdings.
Vikram said the company's goal is to grow and to make sure that its products meet the local demand instead of just making profits.
"Asia is the growth engine for the future, I don't think anyone is too concerned about making profit, we've made profit which is a very good thing, but the focus is over the next five to 10 years, 50% of our business should come from Asia," he noted.
Despite ups and downs in the travel industry, especially in the aftermath of the two Malaysian Airlines tragedies, Vikram believes Expedia's business operations will not be affected.
"Generally the industry has been quite resistance…airplane travel is a necessity especially in Southeast Asia, people is so used to it," he said, adding that hotel operators will start to lower down prices when demand for flights goes down, which could attract more travellers.
Meanwhile, commenting on its joint venture with AirAsia Bhd in Malaysia, he said it has been a good relationship between the two entities.
"AirAsia has been a great partner, we get benefit from that (the joint venture with AirAsia), AirAsia has a deep understanding on the Asian market," he stressed.
Vikram also said that Expedia would be able to reap more benefits if it expands its network beyond Expedia.
"Even though the initial agreement was mutually exclusive, we have been very flexible, that's how you do business in Asia…We offer all airlines, even not serviced by AirAsia flights, we're able to offer those flights and holiday packages, that's the structure in Malaysia.
"In the interest of partnership, we're always very open, we want AirAsia to grow as well…Expedia India is not focused on airline tickets, (so that) it's fine (for AirAsia to find partners there) and can grow with other players," he added.
According to AirAsia's latest annual report, the joint venture made its maiden annual profit in 2013. It registered a 46% growth in transactions to 1.9 million, which in turn led to a more than 30% increase in revenue.


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