Tourplus, armed with a $ 1 million fundraiser, is switching from transactions to content to survive Covid
05/11/2020, by Yeoh Siew Hoon, in Sales, Special, Marketing, Mobile, Regions, Sectors, Startups
Rickson Goh (center) and his team: Sticking together through Covid. Goh said there had been no layoffs, but the team agreed to cut wages and leave unpaid to get through that period.
Malaysia-based Tourplus, which connects travelers with drivers / guides and personalized itineraries, was on its way to moderate success when Covid stalled the inbound business.
Last September raised $ 400,000, which attracted customers and saw business grow 30% from the previous month between September and February. From March onwards, revenue evaporated when the borders were closed.
Founded in 2015 by entrepreneur Rickson Goh, the company raised an additional $ 1 million last week from investors including Malaysian business angel Jin Hui Wong, GT-MAX and Chinese accelerator SSOV.
“We came up with a new business plan, went to investors and told them we could generate traffic and profit in 12 to 18 months,” said Goh. “You also know our ability to work quickly.”
The new business plan includes the introduction of an expanded version of Tourplus that moves from a transactional model to a content-driven model and is geared towards the domestic market. The new app is slated to launch on November 16 and features social content to help domestic travelers in Southeast Asia read reviews and find dealerships nearby.
Goh’s ambition is to be the TripAdvisor or Dianping for Southeast Asia, with localized reviews for the moment as he prepares for post-covid when cross-border travel reboots.
“There is currently no demand to book drivers / guides as domestic travelers do not use guides. For this reason we offer this extended content function. “
To improve the situation during this time, free airport transfers from RM 60 are also offered.
Fortunately, we had cash flow from our increase last September and we had to do something to survive. We can’t wait for things to come back, ”said Goh.
According to Goh, the company has served 10,000 travelers in Southeast Asia since it was launched. Travelers book the custom tours in the app, select the vehicle type and the booking is then open to 3,000 drivers / guides to bid for the job.
Goh, who studied IT and business and worked at Maybank to transform the bank’s internal group structure, said he saw a problem that needed to be resolved on the last mile of travel – empowering drivers / guides with technology and making this final stretch to digitize. “People want to hire a driver to show them around, and we can help turn drivers into guides with technical and personalized itineraries.”
He believes private tours to Covid are becoming a huge trend. “We got it on 10.10. Seen in China and they predict private tours will grow threefold. These families and small groups are also willing to pay more. “
The biggest challenge for him is to educate travelers on how to use the product. He also knows how difficult it is to build a consumer brand in today’s market, which is why it acts as a supplier to online travel brands like Traveloka and Klook. “We are like the ‘grave’ for drivers / guides. When people book our product, our drivers bid for it. “
Goh said the new $ 1 million funding will be used for product and content development, as well as promoting social engagement on platforms like Facebook or with bloggers. It has also used weekend live streaming to keep its community busy with campaigning.