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According to Expedia, it usually takes 16 days for someone to plan a trip. Malaysian startup, Tourplus, aims to make this planning simpler by providing a list of set itineraries for users to choose from. It enables users to plan their holiday without worrying about security, language, and local knowledge.
The company provides private guides and customisable itineraries that are verified and reviewed, in the same way Airbnb lets its users connect with accommodation hosts.
Tourplus' online platform allows travellers to plan tours in popular travel destinations such as Bangkok, Siem Reap, Bali, and Kuala Lumpur. Travellers will only need to specify their places of interest and choose from the available itineraries and services. After a booking is confirmed, travellers can directly communicate with tour guides through the app to schedule activities as per the plan. The company claims to have more than 1,000 tour guides across Southeast Asia.
Tourplus was founded by Rickson Goh while he was studying in Australia Queensland University of Technology in 2012. He and his three friends started working on a mobile app for automating the entire travel plan including itinerary planning, booking, transportation, currency rate, and places of interest. The company currently has five full-time employees.
The company initially started as lead generation platform for hotels and flights, similar to Google Trips. The platform was mostly used for searching, but lead conversion ratio was very low. Therefore, Tourplus changed its business model and created a pool of local guides with whom travellers can connect and create customized itinerary.
In an interview with theBUIDL, CEO Rickson Goh said, “We always wanted to utilize technology in solving traveller's problems. A traveller makes his plan by doing basic research to arrive at destination. We want to help travellers in last-minute planning such as taxi booking, day tours, booking tickets etc."
The company generates more than 100,000 Malaysian Ringgit (~USD 24,000) per month in revenues, by taking 20-30% commission from travellers. It has been seeing 10% monthly growth in its transactions. The company has more than 1,700 verified guides on its platform. In July 2018, Tourplus raised RM 500,000 in pre-seed funding from an undisclosed VC.
TourPlus has also collaborated with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to improve Malaysia's tourism industry through digital economy. MDEC was created by the Malaysian government for providing a boost to its technology industry and commerce zone.
The company competes with global travel technology companies such as Expedia, as well as local startups including GoQuO (raised USD 6 million so far), Localocal (raised USD 2 million so far), LocalUsher, Travelog, and Adventoro. Rickson added, "Tourplus has a competitive advantage as its utilizes machine learning models to allocate right travel guide within minutes against 24-hour window of its nearest competitor. The traditional travel companies offer a defined product, which can't be customized, at a higher cost; whereas Tourplus is completely customizable service which can be booked at the last minute."
Tourplus has partnered with Tencent to enter the lucrative Chinese market. In the longer term, Tourplus aims to become a leading travel company in Southeast Asia. As of now, Tourplus has presence in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.