Singaporean travellers spend a third of travel budget on food, YouTrip study reveals

Singaporean travellers spend almost 33% of their total travel budget on food, says multi-currency mobile wallet YouTrip's 2019 Singapore Overseas Spending Study. According to the report, even in off the beaten destinations observed in 2019, the YouTrip wallet was used mainly on dining expenditure.

YouTrip analysed the travel and overseas spending habits of 100,000 Singaporean travellers between September 2018 to September 2019. Commonly called food advocates, Singaporean travellers have proved to be one as they also tend to seek familiar food when in non-Asian countries. The study revealed that cuisines such as Chinese, Japanese, and Thai fall within the top five most frequented F&B outlets. In the top three most popular travel destinations, YouTrip users spend an average of SG$67 in Japan, followed by SG$40 in Malaysia, and lastly SG$30 in Australia in a single dining receipt.

According to YouTrip, the study aims to uncover predictions of up-and-coming off the beaten track destinations, and to curate useful tips to help travellers manage their money in these destinations in the coming year. Some of these off the beaten destinations include Chile, Romania and Mongolia. Overall, YouTrip users are well-travelled, covering 161 out of a total of 195 countries (83%) in the world.

Caecilia Chu (pictured), co-founder and CEO of YouTrip, said: “Singaporeans have always loved to travel. Since our launch, we’ve seen Singaporean travellers become increasingly adventurous, taking their YouTrip cards to more exotic destinations. It is exciting to our team that more travellers are entrusting YouTrip with their money during their travels!”

YouTrip broke into the Singapore market in August last year. In a fireside chat at Marketing's Digital Marketing Asia 2019 Singapore, Chu said that there are immense opportunities in the Southeast Asia region and that led to co-founder Arthur Mak and herself making a foray into the Little Red Dot.

"China has its own BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent), but the market opportunity in Southeast Asia was yet to unfold when we thought of the business idea five years ago," she explained. About a year into the market, YouTrip had about 300,000 app downloads, but gaining the trust and credibiltiy of Singaporeans at the initial stage was not easy.

It has also built a partnership with contactless payment system provider EZ-Link to crack the Singapore market. "Having that initial support was important for us to at least get started and of course one year on now, we are a little bit more established by ourselves so we have a bit more leeway to experiment on things on a standalone basis. But I would imagine in the initial traction and credibility, partnering with a well-known company was really tough for us," she explained.

Birth of YouTrip 

Born in Hong Kong, Chu spent majority of her career in China. She has previously worked at Citi overseeing growth investments in the consumer and technology sectors in the Southeast Asian and China regions. Additionally, Chu was a consultant at McKinsey advising financial institutions across Asia on market entry, customer segmentation, and retail product strategies. Her fintech experiences prior to YouTrip include positions at Lufax, China’s online wealth management platform, and QF Pay, a China-based global mobile payments company backed by Sequoia China.

However, the hassles around the best foreign exchange rate, dread of credit card transaction fees, inability to use a credit card at certain places, or even exchanging too much currency were pain points of travel that led to Chu starting up YouTrip. "My personal experience as a frequent traveller helped to carve out that niche area in a cluttered fintech space and establish YouTrip. I was experiencing these pain points day in and day out, no matter if I was working as an investment banker or a McKinsey consultant," she said.

As a digital company, Chu and Mak currently has a lot of data in hand and were able to identify where a particular user has spent the card. However, this data was not nearly the backbone of establishing YouTrip still. "We, as a digital company, do have a lot of data, and at the bare minimum we know where the user has spent the card. But data was something that we did not necessarily use to identify the white space in our early years," she said, adding that the company now in fact only uses data to refine its products and improve the backend support.

Most recently, YouTrip expanded to Thailand, in partnership with Thai bank Kasikornbank. Thailand serves as YouTrip’s first overseas market for consumers outside Singapore, and aims to sign up over 400,000 users within its first year of launch in Thailand. Through this partnership, Kbank’s 11.6 million online customers will have access to YouTrip via the bank’s loyalty app K PLUS. YouTrip also allows Thai travellers to lock-down and secure their preferred rate via the in-app exchange rate feature for 10 popular currencies, with no daily limit. This was shortly after YouTrip bagged US$25.5 million in a pre-series A fund raise in May 2019.