JOVAGO, a leading online hotel booking site in Myanmar, aims to establish partnership with all hotels, motels, and guest houses registered at the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, to further boost domestic travel.
Hugo Schleicher, managing director of Jovago Myanmar, said at a press conference last week that the firm now partners more than 900 hotels and aims to reach over 1,200 by the end of this year.
“We are growing very fast. Even in June, which is not part of the high season, we usually receive bookings. It means that there is a boom in the number of travellers in September and onwards when local people start travelling again,” he said.
The Tourism Ministry’s statistics showed that there are 1,279 hotels in 67 towns across Myanmar, offering nearly 50,000 rooms, as of December last year. In the same year, 2.46 million local people went on domestic trips, and their expenditure based on hotels and guest houses reached about 733.24 billion kyats. In this regard, Jovago aims to promote domestic travels in Myanmar.
The website caters its services mainly to domestic travellers.
According to Schleicher, the most popular destinations for domestic travellers are Bagan, Yangon, and Mandalay. Myanmar people usually prefer going to Chaung Tha beach, Ngwe Saung beach, Dawei, and Myeik.
Over the past three months, more than 1,000 people booked hotel rooms by using the application. Generally, the cheapest rooms sell faster than high-end ones, as people look for the lowest rate. The average room rate calculated from online bookings was 50,000 kyats a night.
Schleicher recommended going to famous cities in Mandalay region such as Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay, Monywa. He said that Pyay and Putao were good places to visit in the wet season. The firm recently signed up with three hotels in Putao.
“We aim at changing the way Myanmar citizens travel in their own country. Our ambition is to become everyone’s travel partner. Customers can now book hotels from 3,000 kyats to 500,000 kyats a night on their phone 24 hours a day. Our team is proactive in facilitating travellers in the hotel booking process, ensuring they have a stress-free experience,” he said.
A refund programme was launched this month, to ensure that customers get the best deal from the site.
“We realise that some Myanmar travellers are still reluctant to book a hotel room online because they think online services are expensive. We aim at changing this perception, by introducing rates perfectly designed for local travellers. We are never beaten on price. At the end, we know that people will trust Jovago because it is fast, easy, reliable and cheap; it is just a matter of time.”
Schleicher said that Jovago usually offer cheaper rates than walk-in rates at about 90 per cent of partner hotels. The firm also encourages hotels to offer promotions based on their room availability. This has led the hotels to hike occupancy rates. Notably, Jovago is giving advice to hotels in Bagan and Mandalay on how to attract customers in the low season.
He urged Myanmar nationals to use the Internet as a tool for daily life rather than wasting time on social media. He said that a lot of hotel information can be found on SideMinder, an internationally recognised operation tool in tourism with which Jovago recently signed a cooperation agreement. He said that SideMinder software would ensure the best deals for online booking customers, as they can compare room rates and availability with other booking sites.
Schleicher said that the application was also designed for Myanmar migrant workers who are visiting their homeland. He guaranteed that they would also enjoy the same rate as local residents when they come back to Myanmar on vacation.
“My message is travel, travel, travel. Discover your own country. And enjoy your life,” he said.