There are unique things happening within the region that cannot be tackled with templates from Europe or the U.S.
Quote from Siew Hoon Yeoh, founder of Web in Travel, in an article on PhocusWire this week.
To win with online travel in Asia, go local (or go home)
At the most extreme end of the analysis, it could be leveled in some quarters that there was an element of colonialism involved when it came to previous attempts by western brands to "move in on APAC."
The introduction of digital processes and the mass-consumerism of travel in North America and Europe could easily be supplanted in markets that were deemed behind both in terms of web adoption and ability/desire to travel.
This, as we know, didn't work out as perhaps originally planned.
Now the digital travel economy is in a different place, figuratively and perhaps geographically, with consumer behavior recognized as not being acceptable for a one-size-fits-all strategy.
Regional differences and behavioral considerations are far more important to any brand trying to capture a market as diverse as Asia Pacific than simply dropping a model in and expecting similar results to those back in the domestic or regional markets in the West.
Where perhaps the longer-term strategies have come into play is at a corporate level, rather than the consumer-facing pushes from Western travel groups.
Sure, replicating and installing a brand name and service into a country (with the aforementioned consideration for regional variations) is one strategy, but figuring out the bigger picture is where the smart money goes.
Booking Holdings is a case in point. It is making a concerted effort to grow Booking.com in some key Asia Pacific markets (despite having its Agoda brand in good positions in many countries), but it also realizes that this is probably not enough.
It made massive investments in Ctrip, just at the right time, giving it a stake in a business that has, some might argue, a far higher chance of growing to the scale in China and beyond that Booking.com ever achieved in Europe.
At a macro level, these strategic moves say far more about where the focus is in terms of "winning in APAC" than simply mirroring existing brands or processes that are deemed the champions of their home markets.