Agoda’s new chief marketing officer opens up the OTA’s subtle approach to marketing

Following his recent promotion from Agoda’s vice president of marketing to becoming the OTA’s chief marketing officer, I spoke to Ittai Chorev about his change in role, Agoda’s unique take on marketing and the global aspirations of the company beyond its traditional Asian market.

So you’ve moved upwards from VP of marketing to becoming the main man, how does the role of CMO differ from a VP position?

 Essentially in this new role I have increased responsibilities across more marketing disciplines, which now includes Brand and PR, Customer Marketing as well as PPC, MSE.   So now I get to apply the scientific approach we have always employed to these new areas, and we can test and measure content, media channels and such like, to help us to optimise investment levels for the best returns for us, our accommodation partners and the consumer.

How would you describe your leadership style?

While I consider my leadership style as casual, I am also known to be direct. I am definitely results-oriented but do push my team to ensure they do the right thing the right way.

Agoda, when compared with other OTA’s, seems to employ a subtle approach when it comes to marketing – i.e. no splashy adverts on public transport or invasive online campaigns what is the thinking behind this?

We have been hugely successful taking a scientific approach to marketing, using hundreds and hundreds of tests each month to allow us to measure and improve our business via performance marketing. That said, you will definitely see Agoda expand its brand advertising activity on a global level – but of course, we’ll be doing this the Agoda way, through testing and  experimentation of content, media channels and markets to see how quickly and where we invest in this area.

How does Agoda differentiate itself from other OTA’s?

We know Asia better than any other global OTA. We have spent the last 14 years or so  building strong accommodation partnerships across Asia Pacific so that we can confidently offer our customers wider choices of places to stay globally, and we strive to ensure we do this at the best price and value to them. This combined with leveraging technology to ensure a better overall customer experience throughout their booking journey stands us apart and is driving our growth not just in Asia but globally.

Agoda has the Asian market almost sewn up, which territories are next in the pipeline?

Asia will always be a huge focus for Agoda it’s our ‘home’– and we will continue to build strategic partnerships with key players in the region, our partnership with JTB being a great example of this.  But we also have global ambitions and have greatly increased travellers booking on Agoda from markets outside of Asia, including the Middle East, Australia and US. Again, initiatives like our recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, to help to increase the number of pilgrims to 30 million by 2030, is all part of this growth effort.

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