If you’ve ever booked an airticket and saw options to book hotels or rent a car on top of that — now you may get to see listings of tours and activities from small-scale suppliers in Asia as well.
This is probably the result of efforts from BeMyGuest, a Singapore-based startup that just scored S$1 million ($800,000) in seed funding. The investment will go to scaling its operations throughout Asia, first with its second office in the Philippines, while at the same time inking more distribution partnerships with complementary travel companies.
BeMyGuest CEO Clement Wong told TNW on the sidelines of tech conference Echelon 2014 that it provides technology to help small-scale suppliers of tours and activities in Asia, and push their listings out to the travel industry. He said:
Basically what we’re doing is trying to capture the final frontier in travel distribution. So airlines, hotels, car rentals, local accommodation, taxis, trains and buses have all pretty much been aggregated, standardized, digitalized.
The only thing that hasn’t been done is tours and activities. The main reason is that all of them are small players and they have no money to invest in technology… At the very best they have their own website, but for them to market beyond the website is going to be challenging, and also a lot of the times the website is so badly done that you don’t even dare to book on the site.
The neat thing about the way BeMyGuest works is that the company doesn’t take a cut from the existing prices offered by small-scale suppliers of tours and activities in return for marketing and distribution. Instead, BeMyGuest marks up the prices of these small-scale tours and pushes them out on complementary travel sites like AirAsia, then shares the revenue with them.
“These guys have the eyeballs, we have the inventory,” Wong said. He noted that the travel sites are also keen to incorporate such tours and activities, as not only do they help to make for a more well-rounded customer experience, they get an additional source of revenue from the listings. BeMyGuest then gets the traffic from these sites without having to spend a single cent too.
Every single tour and activity is checked and vetted before it goes live — each supplier has to give a free testing and BeMyGuest ties up with travel bloggers who go on the trial, then determine its quality. After that, the tour or activity gets verified, and is finally listed on BeMyGuest after a copy-editor makes sure it gets a proper description.
BeMyGuest also features a comparison tool for the tours and activities that are listed — not just the pricing and reviews, but also whether they are licensed by the tourism board, what awards they have won, and how many years the tour operator has been running. Wong revealed that two-thirds of the company’s customers are women, who “they love this tool.”
The startup is run by a team including former Wego and Expedia employees, which likely helps to make them more attuned to what ticks in the travel industry. However, Wong said that the company isn’t interested in moving to the mature US or Europe markets eventually — instead they are choosing only to focus on emerging markets where it’s a “landgrab.”
Wong told TNW that the company’s next step is to localize languages and in particular, target China aggressively, where it has hired an ex-Wego employee to oversee the operations. It also aims to pocket its Series A funding in the next 12 months.
By being the middleman in between the small-scale providers of tours and activities and linking them up with third-party travel sites for booking hotels and buying airtickets, BeMyGuest is poised to fulfil its ambitions to digitize and extend the reach of tours and activities. It just remains to be seen whether it can fend off numerous small competitors that have realized the same opportunity exists and started cropping up in the space.
Headline image via Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images