From some of my previous posts Indonesia eCommerce trends from Startup Asia and Thailand’s start-up Year in Review you might see that the presence of Korean corporate guys in Southeast Asia seems not so strong if compared with their counterparts from Japan. But today Singapore based travel site www.bemyguest.com.sg announced a strategic investment from premium South Korean travel service Tidesquare. For those who not familiar with travel startups in SEA, BeMyGuest is a tour and activities site aiming to cover Asian travel market. It sounds like an AirBnb for tours and activities where you can book a tour or travel activities from a local guide or provider.
Tidesquare is the third largest OTA in South Korea operating a premium travel service for premium card members, Privia Travel an online travel mall. Tidesquare has a humble number of visitors, just around 300.000 visistors per month if compared with other travel sites in Korea or Southeast Asia. But the premium etravel mall has a luxorious annual revenue from ticket sales with more than US$120 million in 2012. Its conversion rate is also very high at 5-6.7% with 15,000 to 20.000 bookings per month. BeMyGuest is not only received money capital but also given knowledge and market share capital from this strategic investor. Which one is bigger? Is it the reason that BeMyGuest doesn’t disclose the amount of the deal?
Now as one of the largest OTAs in South Korean private travel operations, the company is enlarging its power throughout Southeast Asia. Perhaps this is a smart move to a regional level for Tidesquare and also one step further for BeMyGuest to tap into one of the most lucrative dosmetic and inbound markets in Asia. So what the insiders say about the game?
[quote]BeMyGuest presents a fresh travel product that is growing rapidly in popularity with travellers everywhere,” “We’re very happy to have the opportunity to invest in such a unique product and team that is clearly providing travellers with the unique experiences they seek today[/quote] said Tidesquare CEO Min Yoon. Shh, I’m not sure if it is unique as there are several local tour startups such as TriipMe from Vietnam, Indiescape in Singapore… But surely BeMyGuest has received attention from the industry as it is featured in some travel and startup sites. I first met Clement Wong, the Founder of BeMyGuest in Singapore just one month after he started his new venture so I’m curious to keep an eye on his site progress.
Launched in beta in October 2012, now BeMyGuest claims it is the leading aggregator of tours and activities in Asia. “We’re thrilled that Tidesquare has expressed such confidence and belief in BeMyGuest to make such a strategic investment,” added Clement Wong. [quote]South Korea is a large inbound travel sector in Southeast Asia and we see this integration of our companies as such a positive move for both region’s tourism markets, and a huge win for the travel consumer.[/quote]
Of course Clement knows where is the right market he should enter as he was a former Director of Research for PhocusWright, a well-known travel research firm. And so does the new BeMyGuest’s CMO, Blanca Menchaca. Blanca joined as an ex-Wego Chief Marketing Officer.
PS: I guest that Clement and Blanca don’t have to worry much about money and market in a short time. But one of the most headache stuffs for them is: BeMyGuest.com is a dating website. It belongs to another company. And tours & activities market is quite fragmented. Let’s see what they could do in the next phase!