Marketplace for products otherwise unattainable for travellers who seek unique and immersive experience
First funding for site founded in Oct 2012, to be used to beef up team, tech and brand
SINGAPORE-based travel site http://www.bemyguest.com.sg/, which specialises in niche travel experiences around Asia, said it has secured S$500,000 (US$402,450) [figure corrected] in angel funding from private investors in the travel, financial and property sectors.
The company could not disclose the identities of these investors, but told Digital News Asia (DNA) that this is the first funding it has received.
Launched in beta in October 2012, BeMyGuest claims it is now the largest aggregator of tours and activities in Asia, with 10,000 contracted tours and activities,
BeMyGuest was inspired by a business trip undertaken by founder and ‘chief host’ Clement Wong (pic, seen here with a Maasai), while he was travelling in Africa.
“I wanted to explore Kenya further off the beaten track,” he said in a statement issued by his company.
“I soon realised that my effort to connect with true local life was not so easy, with much of the money I paid going to intermediaries – which doesn’t help to elevate tourism responsibly in local communities,” he added.
A travel industry veteran, Wong decided to fill the gap left open by many online travel agencies and created BeMyGuest, which directly links local travel experiences offered by local communities, providing travellers with authentic cultural perspectives and encounters.
Most tours and activity providers lack the resources to invest in modern distribution technology, and BeMyGuest said it fills this gap by providing a free, fully customisable content management system which not only digitalises and distributes this content via the website, but also to the entire travel ecosystem.
“By digitalising and standardising local travel content from suppliers across emerging markets, we provide a marketplace for products otherwise unattainable for travellers who seek a unique and immersive experience, while supporting local businesses,” Wong claimed.
Meanwhile, BeMyGuest said the angel investment has allowed it to boost its senior executive team with the recruitment of a new partner and chief marketing officer, Blanca Menchaca (pic), previously global head of online marketing at travel metasearch site Wego.com.
Menchaca’s digital travel industry experience covers emerging travel markets including South-East Asia, India, the Middle East and Australia. BeMyGuest said she was instrumental in helping Wego scale from startup to its current pre-IPO (initial public offering) Series C round.
“I’m thrilled to join Clement [Wong] as a partner and build BeMyGuest’s presence and portfolio as chief marketing officer,” Menchaca said.
“The site is truly unique, offering experiences most travellers dream of but are hard pushed to find. At BeMyGuest you can fly in a fighter jet with an ex-Luftwaffe German Air Force pilot, go hot air ballooning over the most exotic of locations, take henna painting classes, kayaking tours, radiation survival courses and K-pop classes, to name but a few,” she claimed.
The team at BeMyGuest is currently 15-strong, Menchaca told DNA. She also said that the angel investment will also be used to fund technology development, marketing and brand building at the site.
BeMyGuest was the only travel startup finalist at the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation Awards 2013 and is the only Singaporean travel startup semifinalist for the prestigious ‘Web In Travel Start-Up of the Year 2013’ pitch.
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