“Crazy Rich Asians” has been burning up the box office for two weeks straight. But producers of the sleeper hit aren’t the only ones cashing in.
Both Orbitz and Kayak tell TheWrap that travel searches for Singapore have exploded since the movie premiered earlier this month, with fans looking to soak in some of the island city-state’s real-life glitz and glamour.
Searches for Singapore on Orbitz soared a whopping 110 versus a year ago, according to the site. Inquiries spiked 20 percent in the week after the movie’s premiere.
Meanwhile, Kayak said it saw a 41 percent jump compared to the same time period last year and a 15 percent increase in the week in the week following the movie’s release, a combination of the increase in the city’s visibility due to the movie’s success as well as recent added flight routes to Singapore, according to the site.
“They are significant increases,” Carey Malloy, Orbitz’s director of brand marketing, told TheWrap. “When you’re able to sit back and watch a story come to life it makes you want to go there and have the same experiences.”
Search data is the best way to understand trends attributed to specific moments in time, Orbitz said, because it tends to be the most accurate indicator of interest. People who are inspired by a best-selling book or blockbuster film may search a related destination at the moment, even if they book the actual vacation weeks or months later.
Orbitz said it’s seen notable spikes in searches for other movie-inspired destinations over the years, including New Zealand after the release of “Lord of the Rings” and Las Vegas following the success of “The Hangover” movies.
To monetize on the trend, the company has created a specialized page for people looking to recreate their favorite cinematic moments. Fans can explore “Avengers: Infinity War” movie locations in Atlanta Georgia or book a customized vacation to Lombardy, Italy, where “Call Me by Your Name” takes place (peaches not included).
With a 92 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and an A on CinemaScore, “Crazy Rich Asians” has earned acclaim both as a fun rom-com and as a rallying cry for Asian-Americans looking for more representation in media. Based on Kevin Kwan’s best-seller, the movie stars Constance Wu of ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” as Rachel Chu, a Chinese-American economics professor who travels to Singapore with her boyfriend, Nick Young (played by Henry Golding), to attend his best friend’s wedding and meet his wealthy family.
“It’s been a great advert for Singapore, it was pretty well portrayed,” Singapore’s consul general in San Francisco, Darryl Lau, told TheWrap. “We certainly hope this movie will get more people to go to Singapore.”
The Singapore Tourism Board partnered with Warner Bros. on the movie’s promotional activities and hired New York-based public relations companies Edelman and Bullfrog + Baum to help sell the island.
The film could double as a commercial for Singapore’s most luxurious hotspots, which are peppered throughout, from high-end boutiques on Asia’s most famous shopping street, Orchard Road, to the world’s largest infinity pool and the Lion City’s famous outdoor stalls selling a medley of Asian street cuisines, known as “hawker centers.”
While it’s too early to quantify tourism arrivals, the tourism board believes the movie is creating what it calls “destination awareness.”
“We have received feedback from our tour operators and travel agents that they have seen a spike in enquiries about Singapore, with increase in bookings as well,” Kershing Goh, regional director, STB Americas, told TheWrap.
Considering the film has just opened in theaters recently and the fact that the city is considered a “long-haul” destination, with an almost 20-hour flight from New York City, the early increases in inquiries are a good sign, according to city officials.
“This bodes well for us,” Goh said.