Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) has set up a one-stop solution that brings together the sultanate’s hoteliers, tour operators and other businesses involved in the tourism industry under a single platform.

Coined the Royal Brunei Holidays (RBH), the online site aims to give visibility to local businesses by offering their products and services to RB passengers.

“This easy-to-use website in (RB’s) booking system allows guests the ability to plan and buy the entire holiday product from flights, accommodation, tours and transport in one convenient place,” RB CEO Karam Chand said yesterday at Brunei’s official launch of RBH.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

The acting permanent secretary at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism is optimistic that RBH will provide a level playing field for local businesses in the tourism sector.

With His Majesty’s Golden Jubilee celebrations just around the corner, Hj Wardi Hj Mohammad Ali said that most major hotels are already booked out. Therefore, by listing smaller hotels on RBH, everyone will be able to get their share of the pie.

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“(Through RBH partnerships) with SMEs and small service providers, it will give visibility to them  and also bring them some business activities,” he said.

When everybody benefits, he added, “it will contribute to the economy”.

Although still in its early stages, the number of businesses signing up to collaborate with RBH is already growing, RB’s Executive General Manager Brett McDougall assured.

“When we first invited (local service providers) for a meeting to express interest, more than 24 signed up (on the spot) without knowing the details yet,” he said, noting the potential for even more partnerships in the future.

OPENING DOORS VIA DIGITAL MARKETING

“In today’s digital economy, it is mandatory to be visible to potential customers 24/7… we are very pleased to say that we have built this capability,” Karam Chand said.

The launch of the website, he added, marks an important milestone for RB as well as Brunei’s Tourism Development Department.

A screen grab of the Royal Brunei Holidays site. Photo: holidays.flyroyalbrunei.com

He noted that this could potentially aid the development of tourism in Brunei, towards meeting the 2020 target of bringing up international airport arrivals to over 400,000 visitors.

As of end of 2016, MPRT data recorded international airport arrivals at 218,809.

Through RBH’s aggressive marketing, it is hoped to increase destination awareness within the sultanate and help break into new markets as well.

“We are very happy that this could complement our national agenda to promote tourism in Brunei. With this system, I believe that it will make all the bookings and travelling within Brunei easier,” Hj Wardi reiterated.

TARGETTING POTENTIAL MARKETS, CUSTOMERS

One of RBH’s goals, Karam Chand said, is to make local tourism products and services known widely and quickly. Hence, it is important to advertise and market the online platform strategically. 

When it was launched in Kuala Lumpur recently, RB said that it managed to secure a booking within four hours.

“We have identified Malaysia as our point of origin and it is doing well,” McDougall said. Despite being launched less than two weeks ago, he said they have been getting bookings and are satisfied with the results so far.

Currently, RB is also trying to reach out to the 150,000 transit passengers who enter into Brunei annually, mostly on the airline’s “kangaroo” route (Melbourne – Brunei – Dubai – London). To take advantage of this, RBH offers attractive stopover packages for those on short transit.

Committed to boost tourist arrivals, RB has plans to service more destinations, with Beijing and South Korea lined up for the fourth quarter of 2017.

As it is, the national carrier already has scheduled flights to two Chinese destinations — Shanghai and Hong Kong — and it is hoped that by introducing Beijing later this year, it will open up more opportunities for local businesses.

“(Tourists from China) are the second most arrivals into Brunei,” the MPRT acting permanent secretary said.

Hj Wardi disclosed that the Brunei Tourism Board is looking to improve standards of services and introduce new activities in efforts to bring in more tourists from China and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the airline CEO said RB has plans to increase its fleet by eight aircraft — seven Airbus A320 and one Boeing 787. This would enable it to increase flight frequency and explore possibilities of new networks.