Charee Guico, Travel Agent Distribution Manager – Southeast Asia, Expedia
1. Can you give our readers a brief outline of Expedia’s Travel Agent Affiliate Program?
The Expedia’s Travel Agent Affiliate Program (TAAP) offers travel agents direct access to Expedia’s extensive selection of travel products and services. As the largest online travel provider in the world with a global inventory of over 140,000 hotels, members can take advantage of the user-friendly Expedia platform to research, plan and book the best possible trips at attractive rates for their clients while earning commission. This partnership allows travel agents to grow their business and to take advantage of the advanced tools that the Expedia system offers. There is also a dedicated call centre available to service and support TAAP affiliates.
First launched in Italy in 2002, Singapore marks the entry of TAAP into Southeast Asia with subsequent launches planned in Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand in the coming months. The programme currently has more than 80,000 members worldwide.
2. What has the response been like from agents in the Asia Pacific region?
We have received highly positive response from travel agents since the launch of TAAP. We now have over 1,800 members in the Asia Pacific region. In Singapore alone, over 400 agents have already signed up for the programme since its launch in June. We even have agents from Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines enquiring about the scheme.
TAAP complements the existing resource that agents already have in their portfolio and they immediately see the benefits of having access to a huge amount of additional inventory at attractive rates negotiated through the biggest online player in the world.
3. With the industry increasingly looking toward direct online bookings, how do you see the role of travel agents evolving in the coming years?
Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing online travel markets in the world. According to PhoCusWright, the online travel market in Singapore grew 17 percent last year but only 24 percent of travel bookings were done online. This represents a huge potential for growth in the online travel space.
Expedia has a deep understanding of the importance that traditional travel agents play in the travel landscape especially in this region. There are still a significant number of consumers who like the personal touch and prefer booking their holiday through a traditional travel agent. The success of the travel agent now lies in taking advantage of online tools such as Expedia in order to offer customers the widest range of product options at unbeatable prices, and complementing these robust products with the strengths of a travel consultant. Moving forward, we see that the key to success lies in forming mutually beneficial partnerships.
4. What plans do you have to extend the TAAP to include other services, such as car hire and tour activities?
Expedia TAAP in Singapore currently offers hotel bookings and will include flights and travel packages in the coming months along with the launch of the full service Expedia.com.sg. Travel agents will soon be able to book air, car and destination services on site.
5. What activities are you undertaking in Asia to spread the word about TAAP?
To celebrate the launch of TAAP in Singapore, Expedia is offering agents a special bonus when they sign up and book. From now till 7 September 2011, agents can earn an extra SG$100 (US$82) on top of commission for the first SG$1,000 of travel bookings.
In Asia, TAAP currently operates in India and Singapore, and will soon be available in Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.