Big on small tours packed with value

Big on small tours packed with value
Above inset: Mr Clement Wong, founder of BeMyGuest, an online platform for independent travellers to book activities for their holidays.

SINGAPORE - Planning your own itinerary on a holiday can be a very tedious thing to do. Any globetrotter would know the frustration of trying to navigate a poorly constructed travel website, while hoping the next link you click won't unleash a virus into your system.

That's where BeMyGuest comes in. This online platform gives travellers a standardised and easy-to-use website to book activities for their holidays, and smaller tourism business owners a modern way to share their services. For example, visitors to Singapore have options to try a parkour workshop for $23, go kayaking in Pulau Ubin for $95, or join one of the many local food tours offered by various individuals.

Explains founder Clement Wong, 36: "Usually these smaller local travel agencies and activity providers do not have the resources to invest in travel technology, so we have built our own content management technology and given it to them for free so they can market their products beyond their own website." It's also another way to ensure the local community is the one who earns the tourist's dollar during the trip, instead of large tourism organisations who just curate the tours, he adds.

But, of course, travellers can also expect to find the more "mainstream" activities organised by official tourism boards, simply because they are there to fulfil a demand, says Mr Lim. "When you go to Paris, you're going to want to see the Eiffel Tower, no matter how 'touristy' it is," he reasons.

Mr Lim started BeMyGuest two years ago, after being in the travel industry his entire career and noticing a growing trend in Europe where more and more people were booking their own tours and activities.

"Generally, Europe and the United States are two years ahead in terms of developments in the travel industry. So moving back from London and to start this two years ago gave BeMyGuest a substantial head start ahead of any competition here in Asia," he says.

Right now his aim is to become the market leader in Asia within the next two years, and he seems to be right on track. Just last December, BeMyGuest acquired a local competitor, indiescapes.com, and now have over 300 suppliers all around the globe - mostly in the South-east Asian region.

"Ultimately, we want to take market share away from the packaged holiday providers," says Mr Wong. "We want people to know there is a better way to take a vacation - without being forced to wake up for a mass-produced buffet breakfast, only to be chased up and down tour buses with 30 other random strangers. Your holiday should be at your own pace and at your own convenience," he adds.

rachloi@sph.com.sg


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