Travel tech in Southeast Asia is alive and kicking, which for the most part means developments in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. But according to Asian investment company Gobi Partners, Vietnam may soon become the hottest travel tech destination.
So it’s right on time that we are introduced to BedLinker, a Vietnamese joint stock company providing technology solutions that allow hotels, travel agents and tour operators to work together. The start-up founded by Thuan Dao, whose 16-year career includes working on revenue management, e-commerce, reservations and sales for five-star properties in Vietnam like Sheraton and Vinpearl, has a growing portfolio with three products to date.
Its flagship product, BedLinker.com, is a hotel B2B e-commerce website where travel buyers – mainly local retail travel agencies and TMCs – meet with sellers. While the premise is almost the same as wholesalers Hotelbeds or GTA, it prides itself on having a slightly different take on the free global marketplace model by allowing different sellers on its platform.
“Hotels and resorts on BedLinker.com can sell directly to travel buyers, but they only pay a commission fee on every booking that materialises,” explained Dao. “Suppliers can also opt to sign a direct wholesale contract, where all products will be marked up by BedLinker.com and resold to agencies. This empowers suppliers to engage in more dynamic selling.”
Another feature is that BedLinker.com’s XML API can be integrated with HotelBeds’, opening up the global hotel inventory for local buyers and the local inventory for global buyers. “We plan to integrate our API with other OTAs such as Expedia and Agoda to allow for cross-selling of products,” he added.
Finally, it can integrate with the second BedLinker product, BedAllocator.com. “All that hotels and resorts need is an initial set-up for BedAllocator.com, then they can just click on the ‘Marketplace’ button to list and sell their products on BedLinker.com,” Dao shared.
A booking engine software that hotels and resorts can use to manage their B2B distribution network (travel agencies, TMCs and corporations) at low cost, BedAllocator.com touts itself as the one-stop hotel chain platform, where travel buyers can search, check availability, rate and book online for all properties. Its other features include dynamic pricing for room rates, hold bookings, sub-agent and account management, and ‘blasts’ for promotions and offers.
Rounding up the BedLinker portfolio is EZBookMeeting.com, a marketplace that seeks to lift occupancy rates for meeting venues located across the country. Jointly developed with a US partner, the platform caters to MICE and corporate travel activities, allowing customers to search, compare and book meeting spaces, accommodations, audio-visual requirements, even F&B and tea & coffee requirements.
After devoting Q4 2017 to project and product development, all three products have launched in the market. Dao is excited to promote the BedLinker business through reseller partnerships, which he is confident will ensure its growth across both Vietnam and Asia. The young company has also opened its seed fundraiser round for this purpose. “We are open to working with angel and VC investors so that we can scale our products upward and outward faster,” he shared.
Of course, this won’t stop Dao and his team from continuing to work on the features and functionalities of BedLinker.com, BedAllocator.com and EZBookMeeting.com. “Innovations like Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, the Internet of Things, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are hot topics among tech and hospitality leaders around the world,” he said. “BedLinker has a special interest in Blockchain and AI, particularly AI booking engines. We will definitely study and plan to see how we can use them by 2019 or 2020.”
“Nothing is impossible. Don’t be afraid to fail.”
The new businessman admitted that he is learning the ropes as he goes, but he is willing to help other “green” entrepreneurs seeking to solve problems and remove obstacles encountered by the hospitality industry in Vietnam.
“Since I have no business background, I have worked harder to learn and to create our start-up’s business model,” Thuan shared. “Our key learning at BedLinker has been to dare to challenge ourselves and achieve something we never thought we could do before. Nothing is impossible. Don’t be afraid to fail. If you do anything with passion and love, you can make a big difference.”
We’re rooting for this start-up! Let’s hope we see more of them in the coming months. Watch this space as we introduce more start-ups from emerging markets.