|The World of Short-Term Rentals, Flash Sales and Chicken Wing Optimisation.|
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Wednesday, 27th June 2012
In China, you do whatever works – even if it’s 'chicken wing optimization', Yeoh Siew Hoon follows the discussion on travel opportunities at Echelon 2012, which was focused on flash sales and the short-term rental space.
It was good to run into so many travel friends at Echelon 2012, Asia’s digital start-up event. In fact, it’s become impossible to miss them as travel becomes an increasingly hot category for investors and entrepreneurs in the region.
There’s money flowing in from Europe – perhaps taking flight from the embattled Euro zone – and the US, and a lot from within Asia, as investors seek out opportunities in a region where consumers are taking to mobile and the web like moths to candles.
At the event, a deal was signed at the event between Tigris Capital and SPRING and The Luxe Nomad, a new travel flash sale site founded by Stephanie Chai (right). This will be launched in the next few months, says Chai, a former model.
“A start-up begins with an idea, is built by a team but truly grows from funding. We’re very excited to be working with Tigris Capital and SPRING as we share the same vision of changing the travel industry in Asia,” she said.
There are many others like Chai who want to change the travel industry. Chai is going right up against Steven Gong, who founded ImpulseFlyer, also a private sale flash deals site which he said is going from strength to strength. “Travellers are looking for high-end experiences and families are a growing segment,” he said during the panel on travel.
Wego recently acquired Valadoo in Indonesia; Flocations, the travel search site, is being incubated by JFDI Asia; TripFlick, “your personal travel guide”, is out to change the way you experience a destination; and Travelmob, offering “local accommodation”, is about to be launched in Singapore and will focus on Asia content - think Airbnb for Asia.
Other than flash sales, short-term rentals was the key topic discussed at the travel session moderated by Fritz Demopoulous, CEO of Queen’s Road Capital. On the panel were three start-ups focused on short-term rentals – Frederico Folcia, founder & CEO, Roomorama, Weston Hankins, CTO, 9flats and Adrian Li, co-founder & CEO, Airizu, described as the Airbnb for China.
All three seemed unfazed by the recent news in Singapore that the government was cracking down on “illegal” short-term rentals, saying this was a grey area in most cities they operate in. The URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) states that private residential properties may only be rented out or sublet for six months or more, as 'transient occupiers' could inconvenience other residents.
Li believes the short-term rental space is creating “an underlying layer of distribution that’s enabling entrepreneurs to create different experiences” and is undercutting the “franchise economy hotel” segment. His site has 70,000 listings and has crossed the 250,000 mark in transactions. He said. “We are offering cheaper accommodation alternatives and allowing smaller businesses to scale with us.”
Folcia of Roomorama, which lists 60,000 professionally-managed properties, sees a huge opportunity for growth in mobile transactions and believes technology will solve the problem of instant availability booking.