Among the most experienced at planning travel online, Malaysians are now looking at a much wider range of destination options, according to a new Wego study of the behaviour of 100,000 travellers who use wego.com.my, the leading travel comparison site.
Searching over 900 more destinations for flights than in 2011, the 2,500 total now covers some of the most remote airports around the world. For accommodation Malaysians are checking 400 new destinations as well, amounting to almost 2,000, according to their data trails.
Naturally, Kuala Lumpur is the primary search, with one in every eight users of wego.com.my looking for the cheapest flights to the capital, and an even higher proportion for the best rates at its 655 hotels.
A quarter of flight searches overall are domestic, with signs that resort hotspots Langkawi and Kota Kinabalu are trending up, along with more commercial Penang and Johor Bahru, benefiting from the new Iskandar project and recent Legoland opening.
For international, Asia’s capitals still hold the top slots: Bangkok, Jakarta, Taipei and Singapore. An appetite for secondary destinations is, however, evolving rapidly as Malaysians make use of Wego's metasearch technology to discover alternative options for leisure online.
“Users are constantly finding new routes with AirAsia, JetStar, Malindo Air and other carriers which soon become popular, especially if they are seen to be affordable,” explained Dean Wicks, Chief Marketing Officer of the metasearch company.
“It’s driving a shift away from the traditional selections of Bali and Phuket in favour of destinations like Bandung, a favourite weekend retreat with Jakarta residents, Hat Yai, Macau and Perth.”
Wicks believes the movement will continue. “AirAsia’s push into India with Chennai as the hub, Malaysia Airlines joining OneWorld and teaming up with partners Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Qantas will change the mix again, especially on the mid to long-haul. Istanbul, for example is another destination gaining share of our Malaysian users’ attention.”
Malaysians are maximising the benefits of Wego's metasearch site with accommodation as well, with the majority of searches for domestic hotel options. A record 16 per cent now identify 5-star properties at 4-star rates on the site, from less than one in seven in 2011. Even the backpackers are trading up to represent 17 per cent of the total in the 2-star accommodation category, up from the 12 per cent benchmark just over a year ago.
While the study highlights the value of shopping online and that Malaysians are realising the benefits, Wicks believes that increased choice is the main driver in helping users identify savings. Wego's ever expanding inventory includes over 600 comparable full-service and low cost airlines, 400,000 hotels and resorts and recently 400,000 more holiday rentals.
Wego.com.my, acccessible in Bahasa Melayu and Chinese as well as English, is one of 50 travel metasearch sites the company operates around the world, displaying the most popular destinations for each local user community at any given time, together with the best available rates. Wego searches 700 sites to present its comprehensive search results.