SINGAPORE (Mar 26): United Overseas Bank (UOB) has launched The Travel Insider, an online travel marketplace in partnership with companies from the airline, hospitality and travel industries to offer an integrated platform for travel and itinerary planning.

See: The Travel Insider

The Travel Insider was unveiled as “Southeast Asia’s first online travel marketplace to be created by a bank” by Jacqueline Tan, Head of Personal Financial Services Singapore, UOB, at the media launch event held this morning.

The service, exclusive to UOB cardholders, uses an application programming interface (API) sharing platform that draws from both Agoda and Expedia’s APIs to generate the best options from over a million hotel and flight possibilities.

It also provides content from 16 “insiders” who live in the most popular destination cities based on UOB data and its partners’ insights, along with a planning tool that allows the user to create, save and share their itineraries for other travellers to comment and suggest their own preferences for the holiday.

Other partners involved in The Travel Insider include in-destination services booking platform Klook, hospitality group Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, and airlines Emirates, Singapore Airlines (SIA) and SilkAir.

Users of the platform can currently choose from more than 350 deals worldwide from these partnerships.

According to Tan, about 20% or $2 billion worth of UOB card billings in 2017 were allocated under travel spend, with online travel agencies (OTAs) demonstrating the largest growth in spend on-year.

“We see the increasing significance travel has in our lives through our card data, which shows it [travel] has been a top spend category over the past few years. Last year alone, travel-related spend grew 11% over the year before,” says Tan, who adds that online travel is also the fastest-growing category of all travel spend among the bank’s card members.

“We worked specifically with online partners such as Agoda and Expedia as we wanted to make sure the pleasure of taking a holiday starts from the very planning itself,” she adds.

UOB’s move is seen as part of its efforts to diversify its business beyond financial-specific services.

In late-2017 the bank announced it was working with Mamahome, a property rental start-up in Shanghai linked to City Developments (CDL), to provide apartment rental matching services beyond China and into Singapore.

See: UOB ties up with CDL-linked property rental start-up Mamahom