UOB launches online travel platform

United Overseas Bank (UOB) has made its first foray into lifestyle finance by releasing an online travel platform that lets users search, plan and book holidays.

UOB, which has collaborated with Web-based travel giants Agoda and Expedia on the initiative, said it is the first bank in South-east Asia to have such an online marketplace.

The bank uses application programming interfaces from Agoda and Expedia to draw the best options from more than a million hotel and flight possibilities.

Called The Travel Insider, the platform partners airline, hospitality and travel firms so users can get competitive flight, accommodation and tour deals. Only UOB card holders can transact on The Travel Insider, which offers about 350 deals.

"We see the increasing significance travel has in our lives through our card data, which shows that it has been a top spend category over the past five years," said Ms Jacquelyn Tan, UOB's Singapore head of personal financial services.

Last year, travel spending by UOB card holders grew 11 per cent to more than $2 billion, she added at yesterday's launch.

UOB is the largest issuer of Visa credit cards in Singapore. It has close to 20 per cent market share in overall card billings.

While the travel platform is the bank's first offering in lifestyle finance, UOB is on track to launch two more in other lifestyle segments.

UOB shortlisted Singaporeans' top 20 destinations based on card spend and insights from Agoda, Expedia, Mastercard, Visa and airlines to build The Travel Insider.

It then designed content for each destination to make researching what to do in each place simple.

Travel data by customer segment also showed that millennials - those aged 25 to 35 - spend an average of $2,000 on each trip while their older, more affluent counterparts splurge about $8,000, said Ms Tan.

The increasing trend where travellers look for genuine experiences over standard sightseeing holidays also prompted UOB to tap the local knowledge of 16 insiders who live in the most popular destination cities.

"These travel aficionados provide personal insight into the most appealing and satisfying experiences in their home towns," said UOB.

The insiders - professionals from fields such as architecture and teaching - have close to 800,000 followers on social media, the bank added.

Singaporeans travelled over five times in the past 12 months.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2018, with the headline 'UOB launches online travel platform'. Print Edition | Subscribe