Are you bored of traveling to the same ‘exotic’ locales and living the way all other travelers do? Do want a change? You might want to consider Travelmob as your partner in traveling ‘crime’. Travelmob helps travelers find unique accommodation and experiences offered by local property owners in Asia Pacific. It is based on the idea of collaborative consumption – a social and economic system driven by network technologies that enable the sharing and exchange of all kinds of assets (in this case, any unique space). The term “mob” refers to the coming together of two key groups in this eco-system – property owners and travelers.
Turochas ‘T’ Fuad and Prashant Kirtane were good friends at Yahoo! Both were (and still are) avid travelers and particularly interested in richer travel experience, one that involves living like a local. When T was living in the US – he noticed that it’s quite common for property owners there to rent out their place to travelers. It works really well for both parties – property owners get to make extra income and travelers get to experience a much richer experience, while enjoying “home away from home”. Being entrepreneurial at heart, both founders decide to offer that unique experience to Asia, one that is localized for the APAC market. T is the CEO and Prashant is the CTO of Travelmob.
Globally, Asia Pacific is one of the fastest growing regions for tourism. According to the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), international arrivals into the region grew by 10% year-on-year in March 2012, led by Southeast Asia, which saw a strong 15% increase in visitor numbers compared to March 2011.
Besides the vast cultural diversity in Asia Pacific, which makes it an interesting destination, the hike in the region’s inbound travel can also be attributed to rising incomes among the middle classes in China, India and Southeast Asia. China is producing 25 million new people classified as ‘middle class’ each year, and Indonesia will soon reach 60 million of its population deemed to be middle class. Middle Class is a strong indicator of travel intent, desire and ability.
In terms of market opportunity, research shows that the online vacation rental market size for Asia Pacific is expected to grow beyond $10B in the next 2-3 years. (Source: 2011 PhoCusWright Asia Pacific Online Travel Research)
With an increasing number of people traveling every year, getting a unique experience is a major task. More and more people are seeking authentic travel experiences and an alternative to staying in traditional hotels. With Travelmob, travelers can choose from a wide variety of accommodation options (a houseboat, a loft apartment or exclusive villas), enabling them to enjoy the comforts of a home while experiencing local hospitality and culture. Likewise, property owners can list as many properties as they like for free and earn additional income while meeting global travelers –there is no upfront cost and Travelmob only collects a service fee only when an actual booking is made.
Travelmob facilitates the entire booking process by offering a secure payments system as well as a private messaging platform for Guests and Hosts to contact each other. They handle the financial transaction to ensure secure, timely payments and Hosts are paid 24 hours after a Guest checks in, for added security.
“We also know that a traveler’s decision-making process is influenced by recommendations from friends and other travelers. As such, Travelmob has not only built a transparent review system where Guests and Hosts can share their feedback on a recent stay but we’ve also integrated with popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, so users can share their favorite listings and experiences with their friends,” says T.
Registration and listing on Travelmob is free. Property owners can list as many properties as they like at ZERO cost and likewise, there are no charges to guests involved when messaging potential hosts for inquiries. Travelmob only collects a fee when an actual booking is made.
The fees primarily fall into 2 categories:
Guest service fee: Service fee of up to 12% payable by the guest on top of their booking amount.
Host service fee: A transaction fee of 3% for each successful booking to administer transaction charges.
Prioritization is a major challenge. With a lot of possibilities of innovations in this domain, Travelmob is experiencing it difficult to prioritize. For the time being, considering the importance of focusing, they have chosen to work in the APAC as a region .Also, their team’s expertise lies in this particular region, so they are planning to leverage that resource.
The co-founders both have years of experience in the Mobile space and understand that this is an important area of focus for expansion in Asia. They just want to get the experience right and develop the best and most relevant mobile solution for users in the region.
As an introductory offer, Travelmob is offering US$50 in credit for any bookings made in the 1st month of launch (valid till 9th August).