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Interview

Travel Startup travelmob Offers Hyper-Local Solutions to Compete Against Global Players

Amir Karimuddin - 30 October 2014

travelmob isn't particularly well-known in online travel industry in Indonesia, although the founder is actually Indonesian. Based in Singapore and founded by Turochas Fuad, travelmob is like airbnb. It helps hosts or property owners markets their properties, like room, entire apartment, villas, even private islands to guests (or travelers) for short term. It has been around for 2.5 years in Asia market and was acquired by HomeAway in 2013.

We've asked Fuad via email about travelmob and how he sees Indonesia's market, especially related with travel industry. Fuad opens the conversation by saying, "Indonesia is an important market both from a host and guest perspective. The more mature vacation rental markets like Bali and Lombok are immediately popular within the travelmob community. The urban destinations like Jakarta is definitely gaining momentum for both domestic and international travelers alike."

Fuad claims Indonesian travelers are considered its top five guests. For comparison, Similarweb estimates most of travelmob visitors are coming from Taiwan, the Philippines, United States, Singapore, and Malaysia. Further, Indonesians usually use travelmob to book accommodations in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Korea, and Australia. Beside through its website, travelmob now can be accessed using iOS app.

Speaking about Indonesian tourism, Bali and Lombok seems take big portions of properties offered in travelmob, more than any other city in the country. Answering this issue, Fuad replied, "We do have a healthy number of listings in a variety of other key cities across Indonesia – including Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Lombok and others. Some cities (like Bali and Lombok) have the benefit of being a popular tourist destination and the concept of vacation or short-term rentals has already been widely acceptable."

Furthermore he added, "For Indonesia in general, the idea of 'kos-kosan' has been around for years and one that is acceptable to many domestic and international guests. However, the online platform like travelmob is new to many of the suppliers of such accommodations in Indonesia. It is also just recently more common for such discovery, bookings and communication to happen online between the host and guests. We hope to attract both parties and more importantly, allow them to locate one another easily and transact securely on travelmob. We are always looking for quality properties across Indonesia!"

While many global players are opening full-serviced office Indonesia, Fuad thinks it's still better to manage Asia operation from their headquarter in Singapore. It tries different approach by working closely with local expertise in the region to help travelmob secure additional supply of listings across Asia. Indonesia is basically no exception, at least for now.

Yet, Fuad has secret recipe to compete with global players in the industry. He said that travelmob's approach has always been to offer hyper-local solutions to its guests and hosts. He believes this is one of the many reasons why travelmob has been able to compete effectively against global players in the market.

For example in Bali, travelmob offers a hyper-local Concierge service. travelmob's team of experts will help guests discover and enjoy the most ideal accommodation options when they visit Bali. All the travelers need is to drop note to concierge[at]travelmob.com and this expert help them.

Another way on maintaining its presence in the region is by establishing key partnership. Fuad said, "Our value to partners is to offer them our unique inventory of properties and in return, allowing travelmob to work with the right partner to scale the local market quicker. For Indonesia, we've been experimenting with local travel agencies and have them offer/upsell our properties to their travelers who still depend on these travel agents. This opens up a significant market segment that are still offline and allow us to accept cash payments through our partner. Things are looking good - we hope to expand and scale it across different regions very soon."

In the future, Fuad expects travelmob to start offering listings beyond Asia with the help of HomeAway's network that already has over one million listings across the globe. Particularly about Indonesia, he stated, "We will continue to fine tune our approach and services that we offer to our Indonesian guests and hosts. Finding the right partner in Indonesia is a primary focus and we believe Indonesia will be a significant contributor to the success/growth of travelmob."

[Illustration: Shutterstock]

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