Online booking becoming more popular among Indonesian travellers
As one-fifth of Indonesians above the age of 15 have access to Internet, online bookings for airline tickets and hotel rooms continue to grow in popularity.
According to Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, about half of the nation’s travellers make their reservation through websites.
“Last year, the number of Indonesian travellers reached 125 million people taking 245 million trips. About 50 percent of them made their [transportation and accomodation] bookings on the Internet,” she said during the Wharton Global Alumni Forum in Jakarta on Saturday.
Mari attributed the trend to Indonesia’s growing middle-class, a major segment of tourists who intensively use information from Internet as their key reference.
“Indonesia has the third-largest middle-class in Asia, with only China and India ahead of us. […] They need instant information. About 67 percent get their news from online media, compared to only 19 percent who prefer newspapers,” she explained.
This trend has prompted airlines and hotel companies to intensify their online marketing, in an effort to draw Indonesian tourists, who spent Rp 15 trillion (US$1.59 billion) travelling in the country and overseas in 2011.
Tauzia hotel management, which holds Harris hotels, Pop! hotels and Solo Paragon hotels and residences, accommodates high-tech consumers by featuring online booking through websites and Facebook pages. The firm also offers hotel rooms on several online reservation websites, such as agoda.web.id, booking.com, and expedia.co.id.
“We realize that Indonesians are become more gadget dependent. Therefore, online booking plays a bigger role in our business, given that 70 percent of our customers are local tourists,” Tauzia corporate communications manager Yani Sinulingga said on Saturday.
Online bookings contribute between 20 to 30 percent of room reservations at Tauzia’s 15 hotels. “It is a significant jump. Just in early 2011, online booking was still below 20 percent,” she said over the phone.
“Soon, we will launch a new way for our customers to book hotel rooms,” she said without disclosing further details.
In the airline industry, low-cost airline Citilink, a business unit of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, sold half of their tickets via online reservations, said Garuda marketing director Elisa Lumbantoruan on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Garuda also tried to boost revenues generated from online bookings from 3 percent of total sales last year to 5 percent this year.
“With ongoing capacity and reliability improvements in Garuda’s website, we aim to increase online booking sales to 5 percent this year and 30 percent in the next two years,” he said.
Isma Savitri, a 24-year-old magazine editor from Jakarta, found booking online a hassle-free way to get the best deal for her trips.
“Many hotels provide reservations through website or email correspondence. We can easily compare the prices over the Internet. If I order via a travel agent, I am afraid it will cost more,” she said over the phone.
For customers, online bookings provide efficient solutions for traveling. On the other hand, it also creates fierce price wars between hotel and airline companies. Despite increased competition, Yani was upbeat that Tauzia could thrive by implementing a “dynamic pricing” system based on seasons and occupancy rates.
Unlike Citilink, which has jumped into the trenches of airfare battle, Garuda continues to emphasize its premium service as its main selling point.
“People choose Garuda, mainly, not because of its price. We treat online booking more as an option,” Elisa said. (yps)