UOB launches online travel marketplace with extensive deals

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 14, 2020.

Lim (left) and UOB Malaysia executive director and head of cards and payment products Sue Wong at the launch of The Travel Insider portal yesterday. Photo by Kenny Yap

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KUALA LUMPUR: United Overseas Bank (M) Bhd (UOB Malaysia) is introducing in Malaysia its online travel marketplace, first launched in Singapore in 2018 to tap the growing online travel-related spend segment.

Known as The Travel Insider, it is the result of a collaboration between UOB and more than 500 leading companies from the airline, hospitality and travel industries to create an online destination where visitors can easily search for, plan and book their holidays.

“Travel is a high priority among our customers, with one in five UOB Malaysia debit and credit cardmembers travelling abroad at least once in 2019,” said UOB Malaysia managing director and country head for personal financial services Ronnie Lim at the launch of The Travel Insider yesterday.

“We have also seen a shift in the way our customers plan and book their travels, with 81% of their travel-related spend last year taking place online, a 34% increase from the previous year.”

UOB, he said, is anticipating an 8% to 9% year-on-year growth in travel-related spend this year, versus the industry’s growth of 6.5%.

The Travel Insider taps into UOB’s regional network and local expertise to offer more than 1,000 travel, shopping and dining deals across Southeast Asia, Japan, Korea, Australia, the UK and the US.

Travellers are known to spend hours checking out online and offline resources just to create an itinerary for the best holiday possible, said Lim, adding that it is cumbersome and time consuming to compare prices for hotels, tours or airfares.

UOB, he said, has gathered top insider tips and a curated content to create travel guides. It also proposes itineraries and works with its partners to ensure competitive and extensive deals can be found easily in one location.

“We are a bank and we pay emphasis on customer journey. As we are a company providing services, we believe in creating more value.”

The Travel Insider taps into the application programming interfaces of Agoda, Expedia, Booking.com and Singapore Airlines to draw the best options from more than a million hotel and flight possibilities.

While The Travel Insider is also accessible via smartphones, Lim noted the bank will be incorporating it into UOB’s new mobile application to be launched by the second quarter of this year.