- Collaboration will allow tour and lodging bookings on a single platform
- Triip creates an impact fund to aid local communities
IN DECEMBER last year, Vietnam-based impact travel company Triip.me announced a strategic partnership with Booking.com to create an integrated tour and lodging experience to hotels around the world.
Triip is an international travel platform that provides private crowdsourced local tours to travellers. Currently, travellers can book local tours via Triip in 100 countries around the world, allowing locals to act as tour guides and travellers to see and experience the places they visit as the locals do.
Triip has about 6,000 tour guides altogether, with about 200 applying to be tour guides every month – this is organic growth – but it is currently not actively growing this number as its focus is on the partnership with Booking.com.
The collaboration with Booking.com basically brings together Triip’s offering of authentic local experience with traditional lodging. Triip is currently beta-testing the platform ahead of the official launch, which will be next month.
Triip’s chief executive officer and co-founder Ho Viet Hai (pic right) makes it clear that this is more than a simple application programme interface integration. Rather than simply bringing two platforms together, the Triip team is creating a new platform that will allow travellers access to indie and traditional lodging.
Inspiration for growth
According to Ho, the partnership with Booking.com is not a pivot for the startup but rather part of its long-term expansion plan, and it was partly enabled by Triip’s growth in the last 18 months. Triip secured US$500,000 in seed funding from Gobi Partners in February last year and used it to grow its team and expand to more countries.
“We always tried to find a way to work with hotels to promote our local tours because it made sense to our business,” he says, explaining that this is the way most travellers make their plans – they book an air ticket and hotel in advance but tend to only think about tours on the day they arrive, most likely going to their hotel’s concierge and asking about local tours.
“It was our desire to work with a big hotel for a long time. However, big hotels wouldn’t bother with a small project like ours.”
Therefore, when the chance came for Triip to work with Booking.com, Ho and his team jumped at it. The most benefit goes to the traveller who can now go to just one website – Triip.me – to book accommodation and a tour in one place, says Ho. Triip gets a 10% commission on the local tour bookings.
The partnership with Booking.com will certainly give Triip a boost over the competition, which is mainly AirBnB, and Ho says Triip does not compete with other crowdsourcing tour platforms anymore.
“In terms of improving and growing, we are the industry leader,” he says. According to Ho, this is because Triip tests new ideas faster. Historically, it has taken only a few weeks from idea to product sale for all its previous projects.
However, Ho admits that a major reason Triip’s model works is because it has the luxury of long testing periods. “AirBnB took seven years to become popular, and we’re only two years old, so we know this kind of thing takes a long time. We know this will work but not straight away.”
Ho says Triip will have to wait at least another five years to become a mainstream product so the key is figuring out how to survive in the next five years. According to Ho, with operations based in Vietnam, operation costs are one-tenth that of any similar platform, which gives Triip the ability put customer experience and company values first.
With its current model proving successful plus low operating costs, Ho says survival is definitely possible. “If we die, we will make sure we are the last to die.”
Next page: Flexibility for growth and impact