Asia's best business hotels, luxury resorts, spas, destinations, business cities, and the world's best airlines and airports. Full results of our 2013 Best in Travel Poll. See some Award Photos.
The Smart Travel Asia 2013 Best in Travel Poll results roll out as usual with some classic winners and a few surprises. In this age of proliferating brands, largely indistinguishable from one another on the Web where a no-star and five-star may look equally enticing, we posed the million dollar question to readers, "What do these brands represent to you?" Their answer below – complex, confident, curious, but above all clear. A brand that is not seen in a traveller's media space simply "doesn't exist". Disappearing big brands are becoming word of mouth rarities online while boutique establishments with an army of brand ambassadors at their behest show up on Facebook and all manner of social media, proliferating exponentially, without cost.
Readers' votes were based on 1) use of the product, 2) feedback from friends, and 3) brand visibility in their browsing space, the key item in a crowded online space
Big brands spending small fortunes advertising image in print magazines head like the Titanic, magnificently, to the bottom of the sea. Why? Because most print magazines in SE Asia, at least in the English language, simply do not get read. Having lost subscribers they are now circulated free in bulk in hotel rooms where no one has the time to peruse their content in an age when travellers are online.
Readers said the three most important determinants for the vote were 1) Actual use of the product, 2) Feedback from friends and colleagues, and 3) Visibility of the brand in their browsing space. Out of sight out of mind, quite literally. In the case of luxury brands, the hotel stay may have accounted for just 30 percent or less of the decision process. What this means is, visibility in a crowded online space, is critical for both votes and bookings.
Big brands are sinking, albeit majestically, like The Titanic. Why? A focus on print (sans subscribers and languishing unread in hotels) means expensive image ads are simply not getting seen.
Smart Travel Asia is the region's only dedicated online travel magazine with over one million readers worldwide. These are frequent travellers in the know. We offer review-based editorial written by seasoned journalists to help people make intelligent choices.
The SmartTravelAsia.com 2013 BEST IN TRAVEL POLL – now in its ninth year – is a distillation of our readers' perceptions and favourite travel brands. Their vote is based on substantial hands-on travel experience.
Our poll ran for three key months May-July. There was no incredible premium. There was no charge for nominations or any hidden fee to ensure a good result. Readers picked products from an unlimited field of thousands of possible choices in Asia. Who were these voters? On average, voters took 12.32 air trips (down from 16.22) over the past 12 months and earned US$156,307 in household income.
80.7% of readers say Smart Travel Asia helps them make travel decisions after which 50.6% book through their travel agent, 35.2% through an online agent (OTA), and 14.2% through a hotel site
Approximately 70 percent were based in Asia (largely Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, India, China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and the Middle East), 15 percent in UK/Europe and 15 percent in USA and North America.
As many as 94 percent of the voters said they drew their primary image of brands from the Internet. As many as 80.7 percent said Smart Travel Asia helps them make travel decisions after which 50.6 book through their own travel agent, 36.2 percent through an online travel agent (OTA), and 14.2 percent through a hotel website.
Most of our readers said they go online primarily to seek independent "reviews and information" and not just the "best price", in other words, research comes before retail and brand before booking.
Our voters took an average 12.32 air trips over the past year and earned an average US$156,307 in household income.