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UOB launches online travel marketplace

UNITED Overseas Bank (UOB) has launched an online travel platform that makes it easier for its customers to search, plan and book their holidays.

Working with online travel giants Agoda and Expedia, UOB said that it is the first bank in South-east Asia to have an online travel marketplace.

UOB uses Agoda's and Expedia's application programming interfaces (API) to draw the best options from more than a million hotel and flight possibilities, the bank said on Monday.

"This is the first time a Singapore bank has used the APIs of both online travel giants to build an integrated marketplace," it said.

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Called The Travel Insider, the platform partners airline, hospitality and travel companies to create an online destination where visitors can get competitive flight, accommodation and tour deals, UOB said.

Currently The Travel Insider offers more than 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 Jacquelyn Tan, UOB Singapore head of personal financial services.

Last year, travel spend by UOB cardholders grew 11 per cent to over S$2 billion, she revealed at the 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.

UOB hopes the new platform will "increase our card spend", said Ms Tan, adding she is aiming for another year of double-digit growth for travel spend by its cardholders.

In building The Travel Insider, UOB shortlisted Singaporeans' top 20 travel destinations based on UOB card spend and data aggregated based on insights supplied by Agoda, Expedia, Mastercard, Visa and airlines.

UOB then designed content for each destination to make researching what to do in each place simple, inspiring and fun, the bank said.

Recognising the increasing trend by travellers to look for genuine experiences over standard sightseeing holidays, UOB also tapped the local knowledge of 16 insiders who live in the most popular destinations cities.

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

The insiders, who are professionals drawn from fields such as architecture, engineering, landscape and teaching have close to 800,000 followers on social media, UOB said.