DestinationsMalaysians' desire to reunite with their families and friends is driving higher-than-expected bookings for travel operators.

Forget revenge travel, reconnection travel is trending

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Malaysia Airlines has seen an increase of 15% in forward bookings driven by people's desire for reconnection travel.
Malaysia Airlines has seen an increase of 15% in forward bookings driven by people's desire for reconnection travel. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/twinsterphoto

You've heard about the pent-up demand driving revenge travel previously, but now, enter the age of reconnection travel.

Malaysia Airlines was initially targeting an increase of 20% in bookings based on the demand from revenge travel but the group's chief marketing and customer experience officer Lau Yin May said the group's results far surpassed that expectation.

“On top of that estimate we saw an additional 15% in forward bookings driven by the demand for reconnection travel. Many people are travelling to meet up with their families and friends after a long time apart.”

For domestic destinations, Lau said that the Malaysian Aviation Group (MAG) — which operates Malaysia Airlines (MAS), Firefly and MASwings — saw a steep increase in demand for flights to Kuching, Sarawak and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Following which, MAG upped its flight frequencies from 45 to 75 times weekly.

MAS also saw increased demand both ways for London, Melbourne and Sydney flights and an increase in tourists from India who transited in Malaysia while flying to Australia.

Likewise, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) honorary secretary Nigel Wong also noted that the association members were seeing traffic and enquiries increasing from India and from other short and medium-haul destination countries.

The upcoming MATTA Fair is set to tap into the opening of borders and greater demand to travel.
The upcoming MATTA Fair is set to tap into the opening of borders and greater demand to travel. Photo Credit: MATTA

Speaking at a press conference organised by MATTA ahead of the upcoming MATTA Fair, Wong and Lau hold the same sentiments that China remains an uncertain market due to the current travel bans for their citizens.

They foresee any possibilities of targeting the China market only in Q4 2022. Wong pointed out that China's strict travel bans may be a blessing in disguise as it has forced the industry to explore new markets.

For the upcoming travel fair, Wong shared that MATTA is looking at a conservative estimate of 15,000 to 20,000 visitors and a sales turnover of RM35 million (US$8.3 million). Lau is also being equally conservative with an estimated RM100 million sales target from their special offerings for the fair and online (from 8-17 April).

“We are of course looking at another fair later in the year but have decided not to just look at physical fairs only twice a year," Wong said. Instead, MATTA wants to "cater to our customers with special deals throughout the year via an online platform which we will be launching soon. We are also looking at not just attending international travel shows but also conducting special roadshows overseas to highlight our market."

Lau said that MAG’s new e-commerce platform Journify is an initiative the airline group has undertaken to enhance customers' experience. Through the platform, travellers can shop for special products that showcase the country’s culture and heritage, discover new places of interest and experiences, and also use the features to plan their itinerary for their trips.

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