Traveloka has appointed Michelle Chong as its brand ambassador for Singapore. Chong was chosen for her tongue-in-cheek humour, exuberance, and love for adventure perfectly complement Traveloka’s brand persona and values. Pascal Gekko, Traveloka's VP of international accommodation, said during a media event that it was searching for an individual who was not only a familiar face to Singaporeans but also had a personality that connected with Traveloka's brand.
"We saw what Chong has achieved over the years, going from an actress to a director and producer, as well as her energy level and love for adventure. It was just a perfect fit," he said. The brand video introducing Chong showcased two popular characters that she frequently portrayed - Ah Lian and Sonia.
According to Gekko (pictured below centre), Chong's (pictured below right) characters are very well thought out and connected to different groups of people. "What we have selected embodies the different groups that Traveloka is keen to serve better. We see Ah Lian to be a very good deal hunter for travelling and can teach consumers how to maximise their travels during their trip. Meanwhile, Sonia comes across as a well-seasoned traveller that some people aspire to be," he explained.
Meanwhile, Chong, said that besides bringing everyone on a journey and adventure with me to my favourite cities, she is also looking forward to rediscovering hidden gems in Singapore. “I am very excited to come on board as Traveloka’s first brand ambassador. We haven’t been able to travel in the last two years and I can’t wait to rediscover the world with everyone again," she added.
During the media event, Chong said it was a lot of fun and work planning for the brand video. According to her, Traveloka wanted a quirky documentary-style video introducing the brand ambassador. "In the video, you saw plenty of handheld camera movements, fast cuts, and breaking down of the fourth wall. All these are trendy, just like Traveloka," Chong said.
She explained: "I thought it would be a good idea to have me turn up at the Traveloka brainstorming session totally unlike how people expect me to be. In a way, by highlighting these characters - Ah Lian and Sonia - Michelle Chong is like the Traveloka app. If you explore like never before, you'll find many options from the mass market (Ah Lian) to atas ones (Sonia) all in one place."
Chong also told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that Traveloka is a dynamic and forward-thinking brand. "Throughout our collaboration to develop the brand video, I find the Traveloka team to be full of creative ideas and always ready to push the envelope and daring to be different. That reflects my creative principle when it comes to content creation," she added.
According to Chong, she gets her inspiration from observing everyday people and situations when creating content. "Because it's important to me that my characters are funny but realistic and my content relatable. The challenge is to constantly come up with new and interesting ideas because with social media, the audience has so much available content to choose from and hence has a much shorter attention span than before," she added.
Traveloka's president, Caesar Indra (pictured above left), added that Chong "couldn't be a more natural fit" for the company. "With her vibrant and outgoing personality, coupled with her affinity with Singaporeans, we are confident that our partnership with Chong will bring Traveloka’s extensive lifestyle offerings and convenience closer to even more Singaporeans," he added.
Traveloka currently has over 40 million monthly active users. Founded in Indonesia, expanded into Singapore in 2016 and is currently present in six Southeast Asian markets, including Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand. Traveloka currently offers users in Singapore an innovative and tech-enabled experience. From AI recommendations to a personalised chatbot, users enjoy a comprehensive and seamless experience on Traveloka. Beyond travel services, users also have access to experiences from attractions and workshops to beauty and spa options.
Traveloka's Indra said that the company had to adapt quickly and find new ways to meet consumers' changing needs and continue to invigorate tourism and revitalise domestic exploration. It not only launched a Telegram group, which currently has more than 16.5k members, it has also worked with the Singapore Tourism Board so consumers could use their SingapoRediscovers Vouchers on the platform.
The company also further complemented the government's efforts to revive local tourism through various initiatives, such as its EPIC Sale, held between 14 to 20 April last year which offered exclusive deals with participating hotels and attractions. The company currently has close to 100 individuals in its Singapore office and has since beefed up its capabilities in engineering, data science, and AI to tackle hyperlocal problems at scale, Indra explained.
The last 24 months have drastically reshaped the fundamental idea of travel and discovery. According to Indra, consumers today have vastly different expectations, as they prioritise convenience, safety, and personal wellbeing to truly enjoy and engage in activities.
"We have seen demand for travel and local experiences surge in the last few months and Traveloka is committed to providing seamless experiences, without the user having to leave our platform. As one of the first lifestyle super apps in the region, we are revolutionising lifestyle services for millions of consumers in Southeast Asia, redefining how they live, play, and discover new adventures in their very own backyards and across the world.”
Traveloka's marketing and business outlook for 2022
As a brand ambassador, Chong will no doubt be involved with Singapore's marketing activities. While Gekko did not specify the activities, he told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that the team will double down on marketing initiatives for domestic travel since cross-border travel has yet to open up. He declined to comment on the monetary value of the partnership with Chong.
While Traveloka has always taken an omnichannel approach in its marketing strategy, Gekko said it still depends on which channel will be best to optimise certain messages. Some of the channels it relies on include digital, word of mouth, and influencers.
This year, Traveloka is focusing on being more omnipresent with its branding and pushing through with its presence in the region. "We want to ensure that every part of the funnel has a different optimised channel. We also want to ensure that we have the best level of reach and engagement and convert consumers into getting the best offering possible," he explained.
User-generated content (UGC) is also an area that Traveloka values, especially since consumers are known to read reviews before making a particular booking. "We believe that UGC is a strong channel for people to make decisions. We always try to balance it out by not only showing what we are strong in but also the other areas so people can make better decisions," he said.
Like many companies, Traveloka was also impacted by the pandemic. However, it saw an increase in bookings for domestic travel during the third quarter of 2020 and as a result, the team began doubling down on initiatives in this area.
Domestic travel, according to Gekko, was one of the changes in consumer behaviour that Traveloka witnessed during the pandemic. "People started to notice the hidden gems and businesses within travel destinations also got creative with their offerings. All these created a trend for domestic travel," he explained.
"For Singapore, it was even more special because our initiative was powered by the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers and we are very thankful for the trust of the Singapore Tourism Board to have us as one of its authorised booking platforms," Gekko said.
Gekko currently leads international growth for Traveloka's accommodation segment and works closely with hotel partners as well as the commercial partnerships and marketing team to aid business growth. Globally, Traveloka currently has more than a million hotel partners in 100 countries.
Traveloka enters Indonesia's ride-hailing scene
Same same, but different: Traveloka next to create 'no design budget' ad
Traveloka holds mega sale to boost tourism sector within Indonesia
SPH appoints ex-Traveloka AI lead as data head
Traveloka pushes clean agenda as OOH activities start picking up in Indonesia
Traveloka bags US$250m funding, plans to strengthen travel and lifestyle portfolio in key markets