The day I catch up with Angel Llull Mancas, the managing director for Booking, APAC, comes the news of the collapse of Thomas Cook Group, one of the most well-known brands in the history of travel and it is a shock yet not such a surprise, according to this analysis in Phocuswire.
“It shows you really need to develop and innovate as fast as you can,” said Mancas, who moved to Singapore a year ago to take up the role. “You have to keep up with new trends of the users, it’s crucial and key.
“That’s why APAC (Asia Pacific) is such a great place for Booking, not just because of the business we generate but it will help the company globally to develop for the future. New trends are being set here and it will push us to innovate at the pace we need to.”
Angel Llull Mancas: “You have to keep up with new trends of the users, it’s crucial and key.”
Indeed, the past 12 months have moved at breakneck speed for Mancas, who started his seven-year career with Booking in Barcelona, and then took on responsibility for West US and LATAM before becoming senior regional director North America.
You can sense the pace of change as well as the customer trends he’s seeing has opened his eyes to how different the markets here are from what he’s seen. “In Europe, it’s usually desktop, search and then the rest. Here, it’s mobile and the first entry point is not search – it could be inspiration, social, somebody triggering you.”
He noted the leapfrogging to mobile had triggered different behaviours to e-commerce. “For example, the idea of superapps and that you can do anything in one app – that’s different from anywhere else.”
Another difference is the competitiveness, with Mancas saying, “It’s bigger and more intense here. Every country has its own local player, we don’t have that in other markets.”
Domestic growth outstripping international
Having said that, it is clear that Booking is holding its own in APAC and while international inbound business to the region is good, Mancas said the growth has been in domestic and intra-Asian business. “Domestic is growing faster than international,” he said. “That’s the biggest part of our bookings.”