Asia travel startups to watch: Virtual payment – Muslim portal – AI Chatbot
Recently there are several travel startups have shown up in the highly competitive online travel market Asia. I wanna share some I find they’re interesting, and I’ve met with them all in person. Hopefully they can scale up in the near future. Let’s dig a bit inside these Asia travel startups and find what they’re differentiating themselves from the rest of the world.
Troovo – Virtual Payment for Online Travel corporates from Australia
Troovo uses Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to help travel and purchasing organisations grow their business without adding more resources, while enabling your people to do what they do best. Recently they won the Grand Final in WebinTravel conferenc to become WIT 2017 Startup Pitch Champion.
With Troovo, there’s no need for a traditional mid-office system. Whether customers make bookings via a GDS or any other content source, Troovo’s RPA engine takes care of all their bookings and virtually processes them straight through to the travel corporate’s back-office.
Ooomra – Muslim Portal from Singapore
The Muslim travel market is one of the fastest growing segments in the world, probably just after the China’s outbound market. The latest Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) for 2017, which covers 130 destinations, revealed that Malaysia is the top destination for Muslim travellers, with Singapore second and Indonesia third. Singapore also ranked as the top non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destination.
The report also found that, Muslim travelers made 121 million international trips last year, up from 117m in 2015. And this is forecasted to grow to 156m by 2020 representing 10% of global travel. By this time, the sector is expected to be worth US$220 billion, up from US$155bn in 2016.
There are several startups trying to tackle this group. But none are achieving significant market share.
Nur Isman Tanuri, an Indonesian Singaporean founded Ooomra in Singapore with some co-founders. Differentiate with other OTAs and travel activity startups, Nur wants to attract Muslim travelers by providing the tailor-made Muslim travel list: restaurants with Halal food, travel activities suitable for Muslim. Ooomra is one of the Asia travel startups to make to the final round of WIT Startup Pitch.
SweetEscape – Airbnb for local photographers startup from Indonesia
Just like Airbnb, but instead of meeting local hosts, you will be meeting with local photographers and enjoy the beautiful photos taken by these artists. Typical customers of SweetEscape are family and couples. SweetEscape is also using the same referral promotion campaign Airbnb’s using: “Spread your love for SweetEscape. Invite your friends, give them $50 off on their first booking and get $50 credit yourself.”
Adara – Travelers’ Smart Ranking System from US to expand to Asia
Adara, maker of a business intelligence platform for the travel industry, has secured $23 million in Series C equity financing. World Innovation Lab (WiL), a venture capital firm founded two years ago with about $360 million under management, led the funding. Previous investors Morgenthaler Ventures, August Capital, ONSET Ventures, and QuestMark Partners also joined the round. The Mountain View-based startup crunches loyalty, search, and booking data to improve customer advertising re-targeting.
Roshan MacPartland, Adara’s Asia Pacific Director shared with me: “the ADARA Traveler Value Score is based on billions of search, booking and loyalty data points from the world’s largest travel companies. Travellers will be ranked from 0 to 800 points. From here the companies participates in using Traveler Value Score can know their customers’ true revenue value and find the customized way to treat them properly.
Atadi – Flight price comparison & booking startup from Vietnam
Vietnam with more than 90 millions people population is a growing market for both domestic, outbound and inbound market.
VietJetAir is one of the low cost airlines from Vietnam that has signed a $10B with Boeing recently and catch the international headlines. Atadi is a startup riding these trends and providing an easy way for newly airline travelers. Customers can book flight tickets easily on Atadi via website/mobile web, phone, email, etc. Conversion rate from Atadi website is nearly 10% from around 300k visits each month. The startup now already breaks even and can be growing on it’s own.
Atadi is looking to expand to other Southeast Asia markets.
TakeMeTour – Travel Activity startup from Thailand
Thailand is the most visited country in Southeast Asia with around 30 million inbound tourists last year. Bangkok is also frequently ranked as one of the world most visited cities together with New York, Paris, London… Therefore most travel giants are also targeting Thailand as one of their first markets in Asia. And so being based in Thailand is a big advantage but also an disadvantage for a travel startup.
Travel activities are gaining popularity in the online travel industry since just one or two years ago. TakeMeTour, a young startup founded by two co-founders. Taro, an ex-Googler mentioned: “We’re curating the local travel activities from a local way to serve the international travelers, so they can have a local taste in Thailand.” TakeMeTour has secured some seed funding from DTAC Accelerator (investment arm of one of the three largest telcos in Thailand), and also 500 Startups Thailand.
Be-Spoke – AI Chatbot from Japan
Founded by an ex-banker Akemi Tsuganaza two years ago, the chat bot now has hundreds of hotels as it’s customers in Japan. Be-Spoke uses AI to dig into the data, helps hotels answer guests when they just finish their bookings for most of the common steps and FAQ such as: what to do near the hotel, where to eat.
Be-spoke’s now targeting English speaking and Chinese speaking guests to help the hotels welcome their guests seamlessly. Now founder Akemi wanna expanding to airport field.
Travelease – Nearby Travel Deals from Singapore
Travelers will need a deal-notifier, a smart app which will notify the travelers when they’re around a shop selling some discounted products. Travelease provides shops and restaurants owners with a small IoT device. This device will be detecting travellers’ mobile bluetooth signals and inform them when they’re around.
The two co-founders are Indian Singaporeans so they’re targeting Indian tourists first and expand to other groups later. Not a bad ideas as Indians are probably the most active deal hunters in Asia.
Spottly – The complete picture-based travel guide from Hong Kong
Founded by a NBA China guy, Edwyn Chan from Hong Kong, Spottly aggregates pictures and information from Instagram, Yelp, Foursquare to provide travellers a complete travel guide by photos. Users can browse the app and select the destination, their favorite things to do, etc all via clicking to photos and see more specific details.
Edwyn is targeting the popular travel destination in Asia: Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore. The app is featured as a best new app on iTunes in more than 10 countries.