INNOVATE

This Philippine Start-up Wants to be the Alibaba of Travel

Discover and book a unique travel experience with TripZeeker

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 27 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

As avid travelers, Kim Lim and Michael Montoya had a hard time finding the right activities that fit their budget and lifestyle. There were online travel platforms, sure, but they each had only a small number of guides, trips, or destinations — and it was difficult to search from site to site. Offline options fared no better. At travel expos, the pair would be bombarded with hundreds of flyers.

“So we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it make sense to aggregate these deals onto an online travel marketplace where consumers can have access to these deals all-year round and 24/7?’” asks Lim. The two then co-founded TripZeeker which aggregates the offerings of other online platforms.

As TripZeeker’s CEO, Lim likens the platform to the Alibaba of travel — tour providers and travel agencies can create their own store on their platform. Because there are more options, travelers not only save time looking for the right activity, but they save money since competition tends to bring prices down.

Lim concedes that stand-alone platforms may be ideal for someone who wants to be more hands-on with trip curation, but TripZeeker is filling a pressing need in the market. There are hotel aggregators like Agoda, Trivago, and Booking.com, and there are flight aggregators like Kayak, Skyscanner, and Momondo — yet there are still no tours aggregator like TripZeeker.

Since TripZeeker’s soft launch, the demand for providers to join the service has been high. Travelers can be sure that there is diversity in tour providers. As an example, Lim points to a 57-year-old female guide.

“She is living alone with her dogs and earns through her part-time job and her small business. We are helping her by promoting some of her joiner trips in our social media accounts and we are currently adding it onto our website. Wonderful stories like this inspires us to strive harder. Knowing that we can help a lot of people makes us genuinely happy. That alone is priceless,” Lim says, crediting TripZeeker’s success to date in helping guides like her to advisors Christian Blanquera, Nix Eniego, Gavin Lee, and Jojy Azurin.

Moving forward, Lim says they want to offer even better deals to consumers, onboard more tour operators, and even develop proprietary booking technologies. Both co-founders believe that the travel ecosystem is big enough that there is plenty of room for innovation — even from other companies.

Chief operating officer Montoya was more than happy to share his advice for other entrepreneurs who may want to get into travel tech. He calls the space a challenging but exciting niche.

“Technology is constantly evolving, but when there is change, there is opportunity. My best advice would be to talk with fellow travelers and ask them what can be made more efficient. Users like fast results, convenience, and new experiences that they can share through social media,” he says.

Lim understands that while there will always be demand from travelers, it may take time for suppliers to adopt TripZeeker en masse. As a new business model, there is naturally some hesitation on their end, even if they are ultimately drawn in by the promise of greater traffic and increased revenue. “It takes time to build a brand,” she points out.

TripZeeker Team, from left to right: JC Frane, Jayfer Balecha, Michael Montoya, Kim Lim, Cydrick Nonog, Edzel Sevilla (not in photo) and Chara Espaldon (not in photo)