This viewpoint article describes the online travel sector as owning some of the most innovative digital growth strategies since it is so highly competitive, and looks at the tactics and methodologies of three of the leading digital players – TripAdvisor, Airbnb and Agoda – and how they are battling in Japan.

Of the top ten travel sites by online visits, 8 are Japanese brands, while over 25% of traffic of the top 100 travel sites goes to the top 3 – also Japanese.

To crack this Japan-centric market, TripAdvisor is focusing on mobile web and SEO via targeted landing pages and content, and since nearly 94% of their traffic in Japan comes from generic searches rather than targeted, they are accepting the lack of brand awareness and instead becoming as ‘discoverable’ as possible.

In contrast, Airbnb is dependent on brand awareness through branded search and direct traffic which accounts for nearly 65% of their traffic.

Agoda is already big in Southeast Asia but is suffering relatively minimal traffic share losses in 8 of its top 10 markets, so it shifting focus to the US, India and other larger markets.

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