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THE BACKGROUND

Popular travel site Expedia had its humble beginnings as a travel booking division by Microsoft in 1996, known as Microsoft Expedia Travel Services. The goal was to provide a groundbreaking method for customers to research and book their trips.

In the early 2000s, American media and internet company, IAC took over Expedia and what followed was a string of other ecommerce site acquisitions: Hotels.com, Hotwire, TripAdvisor, and China’s eLong.com.

“Buy, not build” would become the company’s repeated business strategy. Five years later in 2005, Expedia was listed on Nasdaq.

“We are always opportunistic,” commented Mark Okerstrom, Expedia’s then CFO. “The M&A team is never closed for business. We are always on the hunt for interesting opportunities and we’re fortunate to have an incredibly strong core business, which gives us the confidence to go out and do some of these acquisitions that are a little bit more intensive.”

Expedia Southeast Asia

Source: Expedia

THE CHALLENGE

Technology, as with most industries, has disrupted the travel business at a blink of an eye, shaping the expectations of travelers. New forms of “travel tech” such as fare comparison, travel design and emerging business models like Airbnb’s share economy, shook an industry that relied on travelers thinking only “where do I sleep?”

The internet granted people the luxury of a hassle free travel booking; best location, best hotel, best flight all for the best (lowest) price on one platform.

The arrival of Airbnb in 2008 changed the mindset of travelers – mainstream hotel chains no longer attracted them. Travelers sought property in remote, funky neighborhoods and relied on the local know-how of their host to explore destinations. Could Expedia compete with its traditional hotel offering?

Expedia Southeast Asia

Source: Phocuswright

THE STRATEGY

In order to cope with the volatile industry, Expedia did what it does best – opened its wallet for another acquisition. The company added Airbnb competitor HomeAway to its portfolio for a price tag of $3.9 billion in 2015.

Expedia Southeast Asia

Source: Nikkei Asia

The acquisition helped Expedia increase market share but is still behind Airbnb. In Q2/2017, Airbnb captured 15% of the global home-sharing market while Expedia and Priceline secured 12% and 9%, respectively.

Expedia, already with a stronghold in North America, realized that it needed to focus on emerging markets where 50% of the world’s millennials live and where its competitor, Priceline, established a leading position via Agoda.com and Booking.com.

Asia’s travel industry is expected to rise with a 12% CAGR during 2015 – 2020 to reach sales of $434 billion.

Asia Pacific is expected to remain the main driver of this performance, registering a 20% CAGR over the next five years, as internet adoption picks up in the region.

Expedia Southeast Asia

Source: Skift.com

In an attempt to compete with Priceline’s popular Booking.com, Expedia made a recent investment of $350 million into Indonesia-based Traveloka to bolster its presence in Southeast Asia as the company services six of the region’s primary markets.

“The US used to be the driver of our global strategy and other areas would follow,” expressed Dara Khosrowshahi, then CEO of Expedia in June 2017, only months before embarking to Uber. “But Asia is now driving our strategy.”

Unsurprising as the region’s internet economy is expected to grow from $31 billion in 2015 to $197 billion in ten years time. Travel is estimated to account for 45 of that, according to Google and Temasek.

“Our target is to at least double our share of the online travel marketplace in Asia[-Pacific]. I think we are on our way,” said Dara Khosrowshahi.

More specifically, Dara expected to increase gross number of bookings from its non-US businesses from the current 36% to two-thirds. It’s quite possible with Traveloka as an aid because Expedia can capture more of the 168 million Muslims expected to go abroad by 2020 as Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population.

Before his departure, Dara said there are two keys to winning Asia:

  1. Understanding Asian consumer habits
  2. A mobile-first attitude

To achieve this, the company operates Expedia Innovation Lab in Singapore where it uses sensor technology to understand how users feel while browsing Expedia-branded websites in 14 Asia-Pacific markets, including Australia, China, Thailand and Singapore, most of which have larger traffic volumes coming from mobile users.

Expedia Southeast Asia

Expedia Innovation Lab uses sensor technology to understand how consumers in Asia interact with its websites and services. Source: Nikkei Asia

THE FUTURE

The company is trying to fight for a stake in the fast-growing home-rental industry in Southeast Asia, where home rentals are still illegal as regulations have not caught up to the “share economy” while expanding its core hotel-booking business.

The company already has formed strong alliances with powerful players in the region such as AirAsia. Expedia acting as an official distributor through its agency AAE Travel can bundle AirAsia flights with hotel packages. But in a nascent market such as Southeast Asia, strong discounts are only the beginning as consumers have a plethora of travel agencies to choose from.

Good news? No single company occupies over 23% market share in any major Southeast Asian country.

Key terminology to know before reading:

  1. Advertiser: The owner of the product/service that wants to move online
  2. Publisher: The online enabler who will help with the product’s online visibility

 

Before we dive in, it is important to clarify what affiliate means in simplified, everyday language. For those who are already aware, feel free to skip the first part and go straight to the second.

Affiliate refers to doing online marketing through representation. Whether it’s enlisting a salesman, supplier rep, brand ambassador, product reviewer or any individual who can help you advertise and sell, they all fall into the ‘affiliate’ criteria.

These agents earn commission through the product or service owner following a purchase made from their ad, which makes being an advertiser accessible for anyone with a social media account.

affiliate marketing
The benefits of being an Advertiser:

  1. Instant promotion of your product
  2. Maximising sales channels
  3. Easier cost control – only have to pay when your product sells through affiliate

The benefits of being a Publisher:

  1. Commission is set by the seller
  2. No requirement to store stock or product
  3. A chance to build income from what you may already be doing i.e. writing product reviews
  4. Steady source of income. If your website is without advertising banners, you are able to replace the ad space
  5. Potentially higher income than Google Adsense

The Affiliate system would not be possible without an Affiliate Provider, which provides the platform for Affiliate Marketing. The provider ensures that all operations are transparent by acting as the middleman by assigning a tracking code to see which publisher sold which product, and how much commission they are entitled to.

3 Affiliated Providers You Should Know in Thailand

Lazada Affiliate: As a household name in ecommerce, Lazada also has an Affiliate platform. This means that Lazada simultaneously is the Advertiser and the Affiliate Provider.

affiliate marketing

Website: http://www.lazada.co.th/lazada-affiliate-program/
Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/LazadaAffiliateProgramThailand/

affiliate marketing

Key Feature: Lazada is the biggest online marketplace in Thailand, drawing in over 30,000,000 sessions per month. This provides brands with high visibility, and gives publishers a higher chance to earn commission through sales.

Interspace Thailand: The company began operating Access Trade in Japan in 1999. With over 6,000 clients and 340,000 websites, it was the largest affiliate in Japan. In 2012, the company expanded internationally to China and Indonesia and launched in Thailand the year after.

With over 300 employees at Interspace and the know how of the Affiliate market in Thailand, the company’s goal is to represent CPA (cost per action) Affiliate, and is poised to become the leading platform in the region.

affiliate marketing

Website: http://accesstrade.in.th/
Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/accesstradeTH

affiliate-marketing

aCommerce Affiliate: The latest Affiliate Provider to join the party. Having launched in Q3 2016, aCommerce Affiliate is run by Southeast Asian ecommerce solutions provider aCommerce. The company provides end to end services from website design, online marketing, channel management, fulfillment and after sales service for brands that want to sell online. The decision to launch aCommerce Affiliate provides the company’s clients with more online channels to promote and sell their products.

affiliate

affiliate marketing

Key Feature: High quality Advertiser network and an experienced team with know-how in ecommerce.

Website: http://affiliate.acommerce.asia/
Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/aCommerceAFFILIATE/

These are the top Affiliate Providers you should know about in Thailand. It’s important to remember that each provider has different features and hence, different benefits that may be tailored to suit some businesses but not others. Beyond the list above, there are also other effective affiliate programs that may be suitable to your website.

For example, Thailand based freelance portal Fastwork.co also has an affiliate program. Fastwork doesn’t offer commission on a purchase, as it is a services website, so advertisers would make money on finding jobs for freelancers.

affiliate-marketing

The website will pay advertisers 150 baht if they bring first time users, which will be transferred as website credits. The advertiser can then request to take out the credits as cash for use.

Hotel booking website Agoda also runs their own affiliate program through its affiliate partnership contract. As an advertiser, you can run any sort of website or blog, and post ads on Agoda properties. Obviously, the more visibility your website has the better, and an advertiser can earn a series of steady income if one visitor books a luxurious hotel or multiple days vacation from your website.

affiliate-marketing

Affiliate Marketing shares similarities to the ‘chicken and egg’ story, what came before? If there were a limited amount of Advertisers, Publishers wouldn’t know who to promote. On the flipside, if there were a limited amount of Publishers, Advertisers wouldn’t necessarily put emphasis on Affiliate, since there is no one to help with product promotion. Therefore, the process of Affiliate requires simultaneous growth from both platforms, or one would have to sacrifice in order for Affiliate Marketing to grow in Thailand.