Takeaways from Sarawak Tourism Forum 2017 at Kuching

I was invited to sit on a panel session in Sarawak Tourism Forum 2017 that was held two weeks back (on 21.July.2017) at Pullman Hotel Kuching. The forum is organized by Sarawak Tourism Federation with the theme “Digital Marketing” this year. Below are some of the key highlights I learned.


  • AI + Chatbot: Seems like many are talking about the potential usage of Artificial Intelligence (A.I) and Chatbot in their business. Some of the examples given are using ChatBot in customer services (e.g. answering inquiries) and using AI to provide better trip suggestions to travelers searching for travel products.
  • Hotels running Co-Working Space: As we just talk about how sharing economy (e.g. AirBnB) influence the sales of hotel industry. Many hoteliers themselves went into sharing economy – running co-working space. How ironic.
  • B2B Hotel Technology: Talks about hotel technologies that empower direct bookings, managing customer complaints and hotel productivity.
  • We Travel to Experience: Many (especially millennials) see travel as part of living. They travel not to be “tourist” but to be “local”. Travelers wanted to blend in and experience. Hence, destination marketing is important. In the context of hotel, it’s not about your hotel room and amenities, it’s about the surroundings, what your place could provide as experience.



  • Be a local experts could help you rank higher on SEO. Curate info, update and translate useful information and put on your website helps a lot.
  • Hotel might want to approach influencers (e.g. travel bloggers) to experience and write about their products and services. Learn the niche of the blogger and find one that could help target a niche market that you are not known prior.
  • Let your fans on Social Media do the job. Let them take good photos of your place and then post on your Fan page / tag you on Instagram. It’s way better and more engaging than you posting it yourself.
  • The keyword for Sabah and Sarawak is “borneo” in the eyes of foreigner.
  • Make sure your hotel / cafe websites answers the below
    • What – to do?
    • When – can I do it?
    • Where – is it?
    • How – to get there?
    • Who – to contact?



  • Ctrip and Tujia reported that 70 – 80% of their bookings were made on mobile phone. For players who wanted to target Chinese travelers, make sure you are mobile-ready (e.g. mobile responsive website / app) and collect payment on AliPay and WePay.
  • Mobile bookings were reported to be have average 12 days booking lead time. Higher than web bookings which is now averagely 4 days.
  • 60% of business travelers book direct on hotel official website.
  • 58% of the travel spending happens on the trip. Not before (hotel and flight bookings). That means there’s still a lot of opportunities to cross-sell products on guest arrival at the hotel.


And ya, Kolo mee taste really good. You should try it.



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