Zero fee OTA platform “Robinhood Travel” ready to support tour operators across Thailand
Homegrown food delivery application "Robinhood" catering to small eateries debuted just over a year ago and continues to carry on its commitment to building a social enterprise model. With this determination, the application has now expanded its scope of services to the tourism sector to assist Thai entrepreneurs in recovering quickly after reopening the country. Robinhood Travel is a Thai national OTA (Online Travel Agent) combining all-in-one travel experiences in one platform, including accommodation booking services, air tickets, tours, activities, car rentals, and insurance. With its zero-commission stance, the move will relieve operators of the cost of using online booking agents, allowing them to offer discounts for tourists. Robinhood Travel marks an important step forward for the Robinhood platform in its quest to become a “homegrown super app” ready for official launch in early 2022.
Purple Ventures Co., Ltd. Chairman Thana Thienachariya and Managing Director Srihanath Lamsam will share with us Robinhood's next step in expanding into the tourism business and bringing normalcy back to travel in the new normal post-pandemic world.
From an app for small players to a new mission to help Thai tourism and hospitality entrepreneurs
Launched with the intention of creating a platform to assist small businesses affected by the COVID-19 situation, particularly by helping small eateries avoid GP fees, the platform received positive feedback from users, shops, and delivery riders over the past year. Now we are turning our attention toward another business being impacted by the pandemic -- the tourism industry, which has become the main engine driving the Thai economy since the country's reopening. We asked ourselves how the Robinhood app could help the tourism industry, and the goal of expanding the app to support the hospitality and travel industries were born.
"When we launched the Robinhood food delivery platform no one believed we would survive," Thana said. “How will we compete with foreign platforms? The intention to create a Platform of Kindness without GP fees has turned out to be a discovery of a new supportive business model. We have now taken the same concept from food delivery and applied it to the hotel industry. We didn't do it sooner because people were still concerned about traveling, but this is an excellent time to enter the hotel and tourism sector. Furthermore, Robinhood has significant assets of over 2.4 million customers with high purchasing power in Bangkok and surrounding areas. Almost half of them are credit card customers using mobile banking, so it is easier to persuade them to travel."
Hotel businesses rely heavily on OTA platforms that take commissions. Furthermore, larger hotels have more negotiating power and pay less than smaller hotels. These facts served as the starting point for our zero commission "Robinhood Travel" model that will play a part in assisting Thai tourism businesses in turning around and moving forward.
Good for small and medium-sized hotel businesses and for those who want to enjoy a seamless travel experience.
“The Robinhood app continues to be an app for small players. Today, our focus is on helping the tourism market in Thailand, which is an important segment of helping the country revitalize the grassroots economy. At the moment Thailand has over 50,000 small and medium-sized accommodations, featuring some 788,000 rooms. Fifty percent are booked through OTAs, which are all owned by foreign enterprises. In the pre-Covid period in 2019, accommodation booking by Thais through OTAs was worth a total of 18 billion baht,” Srihanath said.
“Overall bookings through the top two OTAs stood at 40% and 31%, for which hotels have to pay commissions. Interchain hotels will be charged 10-15%, while smaller hotels with less negotiating power will be charged 10-20% and they must wait to get paid in 3-7 days. During the COVID pandemic, hotels have tried to get customers to book directly through their own channels, such as websites, call centers, or walk-ins. While large hotel chains don’t have any problem publicizing their websites, it is difficult for medium and small hotels to promote their websites to a large number of customers. This puts smaller hotels at a significant disadvantage,” Srihanath elaborated.
“Robinhood Travel Travel was created to alleviate pain points for hotel and tourism business operators by eliminating hotel booking commissions." It also provides a seamless tailor-made travel experience for customers seeking travel-related services such as lodging, air tickets, local tours/guides, activities, or car rentals. It focuses on small-scale entrepreneurs in outlying provinces, such as local van operators or community-related leisure activities. This will aid in the distribution of income to communities. We hope that Robinhood Travel will pass on the gift of kindness to operators, who will then return the favor to customers who book with us."
Aside from not charging commissions and letting hotels earn fuller incomes, hotels can choose whether to receive payments on a daily or hourly basis. Unlike other OTAs, Robinhood Travel offers flexibility, allowing hotels to manage price promotions or package campaigns by themselves in real-time. Further, the platform is willing to use its media to support entrepreneurs at no cost. This is a useful add-on for small and medium-sized hotels, enabling operators to use their digital marketing potential to the fullest and acquire customer intelligence for their benefit.
From a customer perspective, users can enjoy digital payments, eliminating the risk of theft. Plus, they can opt for installation payments and redeem points for hotel or air ticket reservations. With SCB as the parent company, the Robinhood Travel app enjoys the strength of better exchange rates and the ability to issue instant e-receipts to customers. In terms of customer service, Robinhood Travel has a 24-hour Call Center featuring live operators, unlike other OTAs that use bots.
In the first year, Robinhood Travel aims to list some 30,000 hotels on the platform, with 200,000 active travelers making 300,000 bookings, helping entrepreneurs save 200 million baht, and seeing one billion baht in turnover. “Robinhood wants to help hotel and tourism business operators get back on their feet. In February, the application will be open for hotel reservations, and in April for air ticket booking, package tours/activities, and rental cars. We are also planning to launch Robinhood Story as a travel blog to inspire those seeking to travel to find information with links for booking accommodation or activities. It is a way to use content to connect to the platform,” concluded Srihanath.
Robinhood invites tourism entrepreneurs interested in applying to be a part of Robinhood Travel to register at www.robinhoodtravel.com or learn more details at the www.robinhood.in.th website
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