A leaner and freshly funded BeMyGuest is in a stronger position to harness the growth of Asia’s tours and activities sector. But competition is also mightier.
BeMyGuest, the tours aggregator that slashed costs at the end of last year, has announced a new round of Series B funding, largely from existing investors.
The Singapore-based company that connects operators of tours and activities to distribution partners in Asia would not disclose the funding amount. Its co-founder and CEO Blanca Menchaca told Skift it is “more than sufficient to support the company through its next phase of growth.”
BeMyGuest last closed a Series A funding of $8.5 million in July 2017. Its top investor remains Raffles Venture Partners Singapore. Other parties in Series A included technology investor Koh Boon Hwee, Spring Seeds Capital, Chan Brothers Groups and individuals from famous Asian hotel families, Meng Xiong Kuok and Leland Kwee.
The latest Series B funding comes six months after founder and former CEO Clement Wong stepped down for personal family reasons. But the company also had to cut costs, sources said, letting go its chief commercial officer Graham Hill (now head of Asia for Luxury Escapes) and several other members of the team.
“All companies go through restructuring stages with a goal of maximizing business performance,” said Menchaca when asked by Skift about this.
“At the conclusion of 2018, decisions were directed toward establishing a more focused strategy supported by a cost-efficient and performance-driven team. We have been doubling revenue for several consecutive years; automation plays a big part in being able to achieve results.”
She would not disclose revenue figures.
Investors are betting on a trend of customers migrating from booking tours and activities offline to online, forcing tours and activities players to follow the tide, said a BeMyGuest statement.
BeMyGuest recently launched a SaaS (Service as a Software) platform to connect these fragmented players with low level of technology adoption to its distribution network. According to BeMyGuest, this network includes 50 of the largest online travel agencies in Asia such as Ctrip, Yatra and Travel.jp.
As of July 2018, BeMyGuest claims a roster of more than 500 distribution partners and 4,500 suppliers of 25,000 activities, attractions, day tours, ground transfers and events in 900 destinations.
Menchaca said the new funding will be used to strengthen its “tech lead.”
BeMyGuest’s API, which connects tours and activities players to distributors, is the first of its kind with a data structure designed specifically for attractions, tours and activity products, and designed specifically for the Asian region.
It connects directly with online travel agencies, delivering booking capabilities and electronic voucher delivery in multiple Asian languages. “The complexities include full pricing, availability, categorization of activity types, cancellation policies and price parity restrictions,” said Menchaca.
“Connectivity is one thing but account management and deep/seamless integration play a major role in producing a thriving partnership,” said Menchaca. “And, finally, our expertise and experience is 100 percent Asian-focused.”
BeMyGuest will need all that to harness growth, as competition in tours and activities has intensified. Ctrip, a BeMyGuest partner, for example, inked two new partnerships in March, one with TUI Group’s Musement and the other with Rezdy.
Rezdy gives Ctrip’s Chinese customers and Trip.com’s international ones access to around 80,000 new travel products and services across the world, while Musement, 150,000 products.
Competition arises even from direct consumer sites. Hong Kong-based Klook in April received $225 million from SoftBank Vision Fund. It believes the future of tours and activities lies in in-destination than pre-arrival booking which online travel agencies do.
Then there are unlikely newcomers, such as AirAsia, which aims to tap into its base of more than 100 million customers to sell in-destination activities and tours, part of the airline’s move to be an online travel player.
In the last three years or so, AirAsia has built up an offering of 15,000 experiences in 80 destinations served by AirAsia directly. The content comes both through contracts with operators and partnerships with online travel agencies and content aggregators, according to a release by Arival, a new event in Asia dedicated to tours and activities.
Photo credit: An adventurous activity in Bali. Mason Adventures Bali.