Working in Market - Malaysia
See how to work in Malaysia, one of Tourism Australia's key markets, and learn key insights into the various travel distribution channels.
The Malaysian travel distribution system is highly fragmented and varied across the country. Whilst there are a very few national retail agencies, most agents are small, independent businesses, and contribute a varying percentage of business to Australia. There is no formal distinction between wholesalers and retail agencies in the Malaysia market.
Malaysian consumers are researching and booking their trips using a combination of traditional travel agencies and online options. Online bookings are growing rapidly in Malaysia amongst the Free and Independent Traveller (FIT) segment, particularly for flights, accommodation, car rental, day tours and entrance passes. The online environment is providing consumers with extensive destination information, and the ability to conduct price comparisons. Social media continue to gain popularity with Malaysians for sharing information. The preference for last minute travel purchases remains entrenched for most Malaysian travellers.
Wholesalers/ Large Agents
Commission Level: up to 15%
- There is no formal distinction between wholesalers and retails agencies. A few large travel agencies such as Apple Vacations, Forever Travel, Corporate Information Travel, Golden Deluxe, Golden Tourworld, Holiday Tours and Travel, Malaysian Harmony, Sedunia Travel , Pearl Holiday and Parlo Tours take reservations from consumers through their own retail network.
- Some also take reservations from smaller travel agencies which have limited access to inbound tour operators (ITOs) and do not undertake consumer advertising. Ice Holidays is leading B2B wholesaler in market.
Commission Level: up to 10%
- There are approximately 2,300 outbound travel agencies registered with MATTA and MCTA, with more than 300 agencies selling Australian products and packages. Majority of agencies are small to medium sized, independently owned enterprises. Around 15 key agencies partner with Tourism Australia and State and Territory Tourism Organisations (STOs) in marketing campaigns.
- With increasing interest from the Free and Independent Traveller (FIT), more travel agencies are organising their own tour packages to meet customers’ needs and demands, rather than relying solely on packages developed by the larger agencies and ITOs.
- The Aussie Specialist Program (ASP) is the primary platform for Tourism Australia to train and develop front line travel sellers to best sell Australia.
- In Malaysia, Tourism Australia operates a two-tier specialist program comprising of Aussie Specialists and Premier Aussie Specialists.
- As of November 2021, there were total 1084 qualified Aussie Specialists in Malaysia. Majority of agent are in the Klang Valley (Kuala Lumpur and surrounds), Penang, Ipoh, and Johor Bahru. There is also a few from Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Pahang, and East Malaysia.
- Premium Aussie Specialist Program (PASP) was launched in market in 2015. This programme only extended to Key Distribution Partners (KDPs). Aussie Specialist from KDPs must fulfilled list of selection criteria to qualify for its premier status. PASP will get the benefit of being listed on Australia.com. As of November 2021, there were around 50 qualified PASP in Malaysia.
- All major retail agencies have an online presence, and online business is growing. However, the number of direct consumer enquiries and visits to offline agents remained.
- Key Online Travel Agencies include agoda.com, booking.com, Trivago, Airbnb, Expedia Traveloka, hotels.com, Trip.com, Klook, Skyscanner, 12Fly, holidaytoursonline.com, seduniatravel.com
- Airline sites are increasing in popularity for flight and accommodation bookings, especially those with popular services to Australia such as Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air, Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot, Tiger Airways and Jetstar.
Inbound Tour Operators
Commission Level: up to 20%
- Inbound tour operators (ITOs) remain a key link in the distribution of product in the Malaysian marketplace. However, there is a noticeable trend to direct deals with hoteliers and operators, for accommodation and day tours. ITOs also handle a large proportion of FIT, incentive groups and non-group itineraries.
- The structure and function of distribution channels in this market is complex and changes rapidly. Consumers tend to use a combination of traditional distribution partners and online options to research and book travel.
- Whilst FIT is a significant business for Australia, Group is expected to be a vital sector for safety conscious consumers.
- Most FIT consumers book accommodation and air tickets online, while some are using FIT specialised agents.
- Groups tend to travel during peak season when the major holidays such as school holiday, Chinese New Year, Hari Raya festival and Christmas occur. The lead time is three to six weeks prior to the peak season. FITs travel more during the off-peak months and have a shorter lead time than group travellers.
- Weekends combined with public holiday are the most in demand travel pattern. Malaysian consumers also tend to take frequent short break holidays.
- Cruising companies are aggressively working on gaining market share offering competitive promotion for intra-region and fly cruise package to capture outbound travel market share. There are increased of trade activities such as training, roadshow and famils.
- Major consumer travel fairs are organised by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) and Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA), usually occurring in March (Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, and Penang), April (Johor), July (Penang), August/September (Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, and Johor).
- Specialty tours for international sports such as marathons, golfing, cycling and major events such as Vivid Sydney, Melbourne Cup, Food & Wine Festival, and music concerts are growing for Malaysia visitors.
- Klang Valley (Kuala Lumpur and surrounds) is the main source market for Australia. The city has the highest concentration of people afford to travel, as well as the best connectivity with both direct services and one stop services to Australia.
- Penang is the second largest city and a developing market for Australia. The market is more traditional than Klang Valley and prefer to travel in groups. However Free Independent Travel (FIT) segment is also growing.
Planning and purchasing travel
- Malaysia is a mature market and consumers have a solid knowledge of Australia. Most travellers prefer to plan itineraries and pre-book all/most activities prior to travel. Position Australia for its unique experiences to change the perception of an Australian holiday.
- Post-COVID trends: More quality travel vs quantity, purposeful trips, off-the-beaten-path nature destinations, travel in small group, more road trips and travel unhindered (health & safety protocols). In addition, exclusivity for incentive groups
- Consumers in Malaysia are value conscious and actively review a range of destinations and information sources, seeking favourable deals before making travel purchases.
- There are a significant number of consumers who will purchase airfares directly from airlines and secure ground arrangements later.
- Word-of-mouth and online peer reviews are the most influential source of information at the planning phase in Malaysia.
- Travel search engines are important information sources for consumers as they expand search options beyond flights and hotels to packages and car hire. These travel search engines are also partnering with user-review sites and affiliating content to major internet portals and media sites.
- Malaysia is traditionally a late booking market and consumers have a short lead time for booking holidays, ranging from three to six weeks on an average, prior to the date of departure.
- When buying travel products consumers tend to refer to a mix of information sources, this includes general internet search, reference to guidebooks, visiting travel agents or NTO websites and brochures.
- Caused by the slow economic development, at one end tourists are seeking for comfort/luxury travel products, at the other people are looking for thrills/budget travel.
Planning a visit to market
Top tips for sales calls
- Malaysian travel trade partners value personal relationships and loyalty. Persistent visits and contact can assist in this process.
- Tourism Australia has an office in Kuala Lumpur. Make your first call to the Tourism Australia office to receive the latest market information and provide a product update.
- Avoid sales calls on Monday and a week prior or during major holidays, school holidays and travel fairs.
- Plan and combine visits that are in the same geographical area so you can maximize the number of sales calls and minimize commuting times.
- The best time of year for sales calls is after Chinese New Year, April and mid-June to August and October.
- Sales calls should focus on agents in Klang Valley at least twice a year, and in the secondary cities of Penang, Ipoh, and Johor at least once a year.
- Value-add or competitive pricing offers during the low season travel period (March to August) are useful to trigger tactical campaigns with travel agents in particular consumer travel fairs in March.
- For more general information on sales calls and planning a visit to market, please see Tourism Australia’s Tourism Export Toolkit.
Key Distribution Partners
Tourism Australia is a partnership marketing organisation and works closely with airlines and travel companies on cooperative marketing to drive conversion in all priority markets.
These targeted travel companies, including wholesalers, retail and online travel agencies, form Tourism Australia’s Key Distribution Partner (KDP) program with the intention to increase total booking value of visitors to Australia.
Each KDP is selected based on the fit with Tourism Australia’s market strategy, a shared target customer profile, shared funding of marketing activity, a commitment to training their frontline sales team through the Aussie Specialist Program and a commitment to selling quality Australian product and experiences.
Below is a selection of Key Distribution Partners that Tourism Australia is partnering with from Malaysia.
Where to find more information
Tourism Australia’s activities in Malaysia are managed from its Kuala Lumpur office.
Most of The State and Tourism Organization are based in Singapore.
- An overview on the travel distribution system
- A quick reference on key booking and travel periods for markets
- Malaysia Country Brief published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at www.dfat.gov.au/geo/malaysia
- For additional statistical reports refer to the ABS and TRA websites, www.abs.gov.au and www.tra.gov.au