Vietnamese start-up wants to unite fragmented domestic travel market

Phan Le

After four years working at VietJet Air in business development, Phan Le quit his dream job and set about finding a solution to unite Vietnam’s fragmented travel market by launching VLeisure.com in 2013.

His aim was to provide an online, one-stop B2B travel platform where agencies can manage and distribute services and products to online partners, has recently landed fresh investment valuing VLeisure at US$4 million.

Phan Le: digital technology is the way forward for Vietnam’s tourism sector

Said Le: “When I started the company, I felt the domestic market was undervalued and often overlooked compared with the inbound and outbound markets. The booking process was inefficient and a pain, and the market was fragmented. There was a need to build a tech solution, a mobile solution to be exact. I love travelling and saw an opportunity to create a travel tech business where I get to build exciting things and connect people.”

Through the platform, buyers and sellers can manage inventories with ease, make bookings more efficiently in real time, while taking advantage of VLeisure’s competitive rates.

The database offers more than 50,000 accommodation options across 147 countries, tours, tickets and excursions, transfers and flights.

A swathe of niche products has also been developed, including local hotel rates for agencies operating outside Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia such as China’s Ctrip and Fliggy.com.

White label solutions are also available for large agencies, with VLeisure providing a travel API to be integrated into websites and mobile apps.

To date, VLeisure has signed up more than 3,000 online and 10,000 offline agencies, with the company recently securing an undisclosed sum of funding from South Korean early-stage investor, BonAngels Venture Partners. This has valued the company at US$4 million.

Le will use the cash injection to strengthen VLeisure’s position in South-east Asia while expanding into new markets, such as China and South Korea. He added: “We are looking to launch new products and services to better serve our clients, not only in Vietnam but in Laos and Cambodia.”

Looking ahead, Le believes digital technology is the future for Vietnam’s tourism sector, as the country’s swelling middle-class have more disposable income to spend on travel.

“As more Vietnamese have discretionary income to spend on exploring new places and destinations, the more it will be great for the travel tech space,” he said. “The next trend is digital; the new generation is raised to think and behave with a super computer at their fingertips.”

Positioning itself to remain at the forefront of this movement, the VLeisure team is currently working on securing more partnerships with global wholesalers and general sales agents and developing more products, including connecting more APIs with agencies, creating more themes and developing additional white label solutions.

“This will better position VLeisure for future growth,” said Le.

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