Japan-based WBF Online will next month launch Manekineko Online, a B2B platform for travel agents located overseas.
With this, partner travel agents will be able to access, manage, and book activities, car rentals and buses in Japan for clients in real time. The content management system makes it possible for agents to offer these bookings on an individual basis, or combine the services to create new tour packages. The application programme interface also offers participating companies the flexibility to connect with and collaborate with each other, without having to set up a new system.
Up until recently, WBF Online only offered B2C services for the domestic market. Boasting 1.6 million Japanese users, the company manages and offers approximately 3,000 intercity bus connections, 150 rental car companies, and 1,000 activities and tours around Japan.
On his decision to branch out, Atsushi Shimada, WBF Online’s president, told TTG Asia he felt it was an apt time to move on from B2C to B2B after a decade of being in the business.
Furthermore, he sees a market in offering bus bookings, as places like Niigata on Honshu’s north-west coast are not as easily accessed by bullet train – for instance between Tokyo and Osaka.
“We are targeting to grow this platform to 100 companies within one year, in the markets of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. We have been and will (continue) making sales calls in these countries,” Shimada shared.
“When we begin operations in October, we will be starting this system with 20 companies, some of whom will be from Visit Japan Travel & MICE Mart,” he pointed out.
Nao Temmyo, WBF Online’s inbound team member, elaborated: “Currently, one company is using it on a trial basis and is helping us to test the system.”
Aside from the soon-to-launch B2B platform, Temmyo shared that “a hotel booking system is also in the works”, and that WBF Online hopes to be able to offer combined bookings such as hotels and activities, or hotels and car rentals, in the near future.