As Chinese demand for luxury holidays grows, villa bookings site Luxe Nomad targets world's biggest spenders

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 July, 2015, 10:45am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 July, 2015, 12:54pm

Singapore-based luxury accommodation bookings portal the Luxe Nomad will tap into the mainland Chinese market by the end of the year and focus on expanding its customer base in Hong Kong, according to its founder.

The company, which re-launched its website in May to focus on villa bookings and positions itself as "affordable luxury" for travellers, plans to roll out a Chinese-language version of its website to attract Chinese consumers, the world’s biggest-spending tourists, by the end of this year.

“China does not have a luxury villa booking portal for outside of China,” said founder and chief executive Stephanie Chai.

“China is a big opportunity for what we are trying to do … there are many people who haven’t stayed in a villa yet, and for families, a villa can be cheaper than booking a hotel.”

The Luxe Nomad allows users to book luxury villas in Asia Pacific, Greece and Italy, and its sales team handpicks the properties that it will list on the site.

Although its customers come mainly from Singapore and Australia, Chai said the firm also has plans to ramp up operations in Hong Kong and grow its customer base in the city.

“Many people in Hong Kong still use travel agencies [to book hotels],” she said.

“Hong Kong has so much potential … it’s just going to take a little bit more time for that mentality to change.”

The site also offers a concierge service that helps customers to select a villa that suits their needs based on their travel dates and requests. By curating the villas, customers can be assured of the quality and standard of the villas listed on the site, she said.

“[Nowadays] people don’t have the time to wade through thousands of options,” said Chai.

“As a start-up, we’re trying to solve the issues of time and trust.”

The company, which has attracted US$1.5 million in funding to date, started as a flash sales site in 2012. It diversified into hotel and villa bookings after Chai realised that her company’s business model could not depend on the time-limited discounts.

The online travel accommodation bookings market is firing up, and Luxe Nomad has to compete with the likes of Airbnb, a peer-to-peer accommodation rental portal, which could hit 129 million room-nights a year and outpace major hotel chains by the end of 2016, according to a Barclays report earlier this year.

Market intelligence firm Euromonitor said in a 2014 report that travel accommodation was the second largest online travel market in 2013, with sales reaching US$170 billion worldwide.