So that there is no doubt about what it does and what it aims to stand for, the new branding of rajakamar.com states it clearly – the “Indonesian hotel expert”. And now it is ready to shout about it in a major marketing drive that will start June 1.
CEO Scott Blume told WIT, “This reflects our core value – we just want to focus on domestic content and provide the best domestic content for Indonesian consumers.”
Since the announcement of the new venture late last year, a partnership between three of Indonesia’s largest travel families, PT RajaKamar (which means King of Rooms in English) has been hard at work the past four to five months developing a new look and feel to the website, brand and tagline.
As part of the relaunch, it also announced a partnership with TripAdvisor where it will be displaying their reviews in Bahasa Indonesia and helping the review site grow local content available to Indonesian consumers. “We will be working with our current members and future users to create content – an area of focus for both TripAdvisor and us,” said Blume.
There is certainly a new look and feel to the website – a cleaner, more visual interface, a well-displayed booking engine and, in line with local market needs, prominent display of call centre numbers. All in a “dramatic improvement from a site that was honestly in need of a significant refresh,” said Blume.
On June 1, “significant marketing”, a mix of online and offline, will begin. “Let’s just say that if you have an Indonesian IP address, you won’t miss us online.”
Marketing will cover search and social media – Twitter and Facebook – and “we will be doing pretty cool stuff for existing members and grow members. It’s a great opportunity to put life into the brand and build a site for Indonesians.”
Blume (left) declined to reveal current membership numbers but said the goal is to grow it to 250,000 in Indonesia by year end.
In line with the current state of the Indonesian online market, rajakamar.com will not follow the standard OTA business model. “We are a website and a call centre. We have moved to new premises that will have 300 seats occupied from day one and we built it to take 500.”
Blume said that 80% of the business will be done by telephone with credit card transactions accounting for the other 20% and 80% of payments are done by bank transfers. “Because of the heavy use of mobiles, the Indonesian bank system jumped over credit card use to bank transfers.”
With four offices throughout Indonesia, rajakamar.com will also take cash payments. “We are more of a Ctrip model – a reflection of the economy and the way the economy works.”
As such, customer service will be a key focus of training. “We want people on the phones – we want people to call us, talk to us and we are training people to do that.”
With the online market in Indonesia just beginning to take off, rajakamar.com, with its strong backing, is in a good position to take leadership. The challenge is to make sure it gets the right market positioning, said Blume.
“A lot of the global OTAs are operating inbound and domestically but given our shareholding, we are determined to maintain ourselves as a leading hotel distribution company on the B2B as well as B2C side.”
One bone of contention has been the issue of rate parity and it is understood sites such as Agoda have been talking to major hotel groups to ensure rates offered on rajakamar.com are not lower than those displayed on their sites.
To fence off its “competitive rates” from overseas travellers, rajakamar.com will not accept memners from outside Indonesia. “To get the full benefits of being a member, you have sign up using an Indonesian ID card and local phone number. We are not targeting Singaporeans travelling to Indonesia.”
The good news is all the economic indicators point to growth for everyone, especially on the domestic front. “There is enough opportunity for us for the next five to 10 years without having to worry about overseas customers.”
The only worry he has is keeping up with the growth and making sure the call centres are well-staffed and that its product teams can keep up with demand.
At 1,300 hotels, Blume said the idea is not to have the biggest content but more quality and depth of content offering a range from two to five star hotels.
Another interesting learning point for him is that in April, 50% of hits to the website came from mobile, signaling the trend of things to come.