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Looks like Traveloka is wading deeper into events such as concerts and sports, a big business in Southeast Asia with the biggest gatherings drawing huge local and regional crowds. Its investment in an events technology company shows the potential of tours and activities hasn't been tapped yet.

Indonesia’s leading online travel agency Traveloka has invested an undisclosed amount in PouchNATION, a Singapore-based events company known for its innovative cashless wristbands used in some of the biggest events in Asia.

These events include  Zouk Out and BeerFestAsia in Singapore, Good Vibes in Malaysia, and Sensation in Thailand.

The Series B round includes some investment by SPH Ventures as well. It brings the total funding to date for PouchNATION, founded in 2014, to $500,000, according to Crunchbase data.

A stake in PouchNATION is in keeping with Traveloka’s move to diversify beyond selling flights, hotels, packages, and tours into lifestyle and experiences. It now includes two new verticals — Eats, which enables restaurant bookings and food voucher purchases, and “Xperience,” which runs the gamut, from top attractions and popular children playgrounds, to beauty and spa, cooking classes, art workshops, sports activities and venues.

The latter appears to be a big-ticket item — literally lots of ticket bookings — for Traveloka, which actually sponsors and presents a number of key events, including a Backstreet Boys DNA World Tour in Jakarta on October 26, or is the official exclusive ticketing partner of other events, such as Widelanes’ Amine Live in Jakarta on July 25.

As presenter, or working with event promoters and wholesalers, Traveloka is able to offer cheaper tickets and early bird tickets to customers, said its director of public relations, Sufintri Rahayu, in an earlier interview.

This explains why it has invested in PouchNATION. Moreover, the startup is making a shift in its business model, from being just a service provider for events and venues, to “a leading entertainment platform that connects hundreds of thousands of event goers and attraction seekers across Asia with e-commerce giants, brands and other players seeking to get visibility and exposure among their target customers,” said its CEO Ilya Kravtsov in a statement.

PouchNATION’s beginnings were in providing cashless payment wristbands for events, using a technology that enables users to make payments by placing a compatible wristband or smartphone to the payment device. It executed the first cashless events in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.

The company has since evolved to become a one-stop solution for event organizers, theme parks and conference centers, with a basket of services that includes guest registration, cashless payments, access control, activity tracking, social engagement and analytics reporting.

PouchNATION claims that it handles on average more than $5 million in transaction value per month. It is launching a product that provides a more scalable and low-cost solution for organizers with low budgets but extremely high-volume events. This new vertical will unlock a whole new segment of clients that still use traditional methods to manage events and venues, said the company’s chief operating officer, David Rapaport.

“Furthermore, by digitizing more crowds and by collecting more consumer data, we are on a mission to attract more brand sponsorships to this industry in the region,” he said.

PouchNation handled online ticketing for the concert of Irish rock band, Kodaline, in March in Kuala Lumpur. For another show, the annual dance music festival Zouk Out Singapore last December, it took care of online registration, access control, voucher redemption, cashless payment and intelligent reporting, to name two examples.

Imagine the synergies between it and Traveloka, which is quickly pivoting from being just an online travel agency. It now describes itself as “a leading technology company that provides online travel and lifestyle products for domestic and international destinations.”

Concerts, dance fests, sports and other events could be the new big-ticket item in the tours and activities sector, and Traveloka’s offerings have already positioned it as the leading online travel platform for events in Asia.

A check on Klook for top concerts features only three philharmonic concerts in the Netherlands.

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Tags: events, otas, Traveloka

Photo credit: A Zouk party. Thomas Tan, Flickr.

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