As an extension of its current partnership, Booking.com and Grab have incorporated Grab’s ride-hailing service into Booking.com’s mobile app.
The collaboration will allow international travelers visiting Southeast Asia to make real-time transport bookings via the Booking.com app, in their preferred language and currency.
Currently, the service is live in Singapore and is due to roll out to Indonesia and Thailand by end of the year. It will also launch in Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam and the Philippines by early next year.
The new integration is yet another aspect of Booking Holdings and Grab’s strategic partnership, which effectively began following Booking Holdings’ $200 million investment in the service last year.
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Since, Grab introduced hotel bookings (integrating Agoda and Booking.com into the app) in April in its mission to become an “everyday super app” for Southeast Asian consumers.
Now, by sharing its service on Booking.com, it is extending its reach beyond home turf to be a service provider of choice for international travelers entering the region.
Says Shawn Heng, Grab's regional head of business development and Grab for Business, “We’ve gone way beyond transportation. Our north star still focused on one thing – solving uniquely Southeast Asian issues. That includes the 130 million travelers coming into Southeast Asia.”
“We’ve always seen travel as a strong segment of our business… [but] there was very little we could also do on our own to access international travelers [and] there was very little value for us to treat travelers like local consumers… but a partnership would let us access [them],” Heng adds.
For Booking.com, the integration will help it build “the connected trip." For travelers, the partnership will help solve remaining friction points with in-destination ground transportation in foreign environments.
“Historically, Booking.com has been focused on providing the best accommodation and that will always be our core business, but now we want to build the connected trip. We want to be sure we can deliver a frictionless experience from the beginning to the end of the journey,” explains Angel Llull Mancas, vice president and managing director APAC, Booking.com.
“Getting around on the ground is the invisible glue that [creates the connected journey],” says David Adamczyk, director of strategy, transport division of Booking.com, during a panel discussion during the launch. “It’s really the first time at Booking.com that we’re able to provide something instant. It’s going to… bring better value to our customers.”
While still in early stages, as the product develops, Booking.com will apply machine-learning capabilities to make travel suggestions in real-time for customers – for example, asking if a user would like to book a ride to an upcoming dining reservation.
“We’re right at the start of putting this in front of our customers and we know there are ways we can improve the service… we will [be] polishing that customer experience, then roll it out to other Grab territories,” Adamczyk says.
Booking.com’s other in-destination transport efforts include the ability to pre-book taxis in over 120 countries and rental cars in over 160. Plus, it is running a pilot scheme that allows travelers to buy and use public transport tickets in selected European and Australian cities.
* This article originally appeared on WebInTravel.
* Check this interview with Adamczyk recorded at the World Aviation Festival in September this year.
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