Lianhe Zaobao: “WEGOGO” Brings Chinese Travellers the Experience of Authentic Southeast Asia Charms
Happy news, as WEGOGO was very recently featured on Asia’s leading Chinese Daily, Lianhe Zaobao!
Head over here to hear what our core founding members have to say about the WEGOGO platform as WeChat’s super app-in-app, their inspirations to the platform, as well as share about upcoming developments and goals.
Many thanks for the superb interview!
Original written by Journalists Wang Si Ying and Huang Kang Wei
Here’s a brief English translation:
“WEGOGO” Brings Chinese Travellers the Experience of authentic Southeast Asia Charms
For many traditional or recently-established travel agencies, the main packages to pitch tends to be travel destinations of countries of cities, and they would firstly service customers from their own regions.
However, the travel platform “WEGOGO” established in 2015 saw the combined market opportunities in both the endless scenic spots of Southeast Asian islands, and the huge Chinese outbound traveling market.
Company Founder and CEO, Mak Chee Wah said at the interview with Lianhe Zaobao that only 4–6% of the people in China owns a passport.
“If everyone owns a passport, the potential is unimaginable.”
He said, today’s millennial travelers are looking for travel experiences that are adrenaline-pumping, authentic and full of local charms, and Southeast Asia’s beautiful islands is a perfect fit.
Why the focus on islands? Mak shared his personal experience in Langkawi, where he hopped across six islands, tried his hand at jet ski, trekking as well as freshwater snorkeling.
“If these travel service providers could have a platform, they could then quickly promote these unique activities to more people.”
To set up this platform, Mak resigned from his previous job at a Tech company, and gathered his ‘battle comrades’ from the fencing days in school. Chairman Wong Toon King, Co-founder and COO Richard Tan, Co-founder and CFO Yue Yew Hoong and Strategic Advisor Reene Ho-Phang formed the core team of “WEGOGO”, taking a year to prepare themselves to break into the competitive travel industry. This company has received SGD$2.68 million of investments as of today.
Concentrating on Chinese travelers, they went on popular communication App in China, WeChat, and created an app-in-app platform. The platform offers 10 different island destinations at the moment, such as Phuket, Bali, Gili Islands, Boracay and Singapore. Users can read on the travel guides on the local charms of each islands, and view videos to see locals introducing scenic spots and activities.
Sharing through the platform after the Aspirational experience
Travelers can then select their preferred activity from the curated products and complete their transactions within the same app. After the travelers experienced these activities, they could use this social platform to share with their friends directly.
Mak says the company has already completed 5,000 transactions as of December last year. The company intends to expand the number of island destinations offered to 25 and increase featured activities to 3,000 by this year.
Besides giving travelers a different kind of experience, the team also hopes to create a leveled playing field for small travel service operators. Reene Ho-Phang said, “I’ve once seen small service providers running out of business. They could have had a great product, but they were unable to break into the market, which is a shame.”
One of the travel service providers that benefitted from the program is Rudin, who Richard got to meet on Gili Islands 5 years ago. Rudin had shared with him then about his dreams to expand his business, but was faced with obstacles such as lack of financial funding and language-barriers. Today, Rudin is using the platform and seeing improvement in his business. To Richard, this is a huge achievement.
“We are not just business partners, but good friends. Whenever there’s new activities on the islands, they are the first to share with me.”
Deeply inspired by Richard’s experience, Wong will be naming the soon-to-be-launched AI system ‘Rudin’. Furthermore, the team shall develop blockchain technology and dive into its Initial Coin Offering (ICO). Users can share their travel experiences and newly discovered spots in the future to earn tokens, and use these tokens to purchase other services within the travel ecosystem.
Besides innovative technology, the team’s development roadmap also includes increasing the type of target market audiences and offered options. Currently, the company has released an iOS application and will roll out an Android application in the near-future for Southeast Asian travelers. The company’s goal is to attain over 125 island destinations, and 16,000 activities for bookings.
In the future, expansions into other themes would also be a possibility, such as offering adventurous exploration trips, for a more personalized experience.
“This long tail market is very important. If it doesn’t exist, it would end up as a travel trap, so we will continue to develop in this direction, and will partner up with eco-tourism organizations in the future,” says Wong.