A Bangkok-based start-up has launched what is said to be a first ever social travel marketplace that intends to give OTA giants a run for their money and which will not charge merchants a commission for transactions.
Locanation features hotel partners that offer their own attractive promotions to win over travellers, with the platform open for bookings today on October 1. It will also be the world’s first hotel booking platform that enables travellers across the world to communicate in Thai, English and Mandarin directly with hoteliers as well as representatives of restaurants, cafes, and entertainment venues, according to CEO and founder, Pepe Arunanondchai.
Pepe told TTG Asia that the platform draws on the lessons acquired from his Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) and Phuket Sandbox booking platform.
He pointed out the OTAs typically require hotel partners to pay commission fees of as high as 30 per cent of transaction, and have limited means for hotels to directly inform travellers of promotions.
While hotels are increasingly avoiding these issues by going direct to the customer, Pepe said more than 70 per cent of hotels in Thailand, namely the local boutiques and non-chain hotels, still lack online reservation capability.
Locanation has the support of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), being one of the winning teams in the TAT Travel Tech Startup Season 2.
Pepe hopes that Locanation can drive recovery for Thailand’s tourism industry, and aims to have 20,000 hotels signed onto its platform by 2022.
In the first launch phase, Locanation will prioritise the domestic travel market. When Thailand is fully reopened to international travel, Locanation will begin its focus on foreign markets.
Locanation’s domestic tourism direction in the beginning will come in handy as TAT works to kick off phase three of its domestic travel campaign, We Travel Together. Through this scheme, the government offers Thai residents a range of travel subsidies on hotel accommodation, domestic flights and tour packages.