A new Singapore-based website, BeMyGuest.travel, empowers local travel suppliers and intermediaries such as homestays, travel agencies and local tour providers by giving them free distribution of their travel products on BeMyGuest’s online and offline channels.
BeMyGuest.travel goes online today to provide a new comprehensive way for discerning travelers to contribute the majority of their travel dollars directly to local businesses. Booking and payment is conducted with the primary objective to champion uniquely local, often small-scale, accommodation, events and activity providers, especially in emerging destinations in Asia and around the world.
Clement Wong and
The idea is to empower people running local businesses such as guest houses, homestays, sightseeing tours, cooking classes, participatory activities and events. BeMyGuest.travel caters to the rising demand for authentic and immersive travel experiences based on collaboration with local people.
Clement Wong, founder of BeMyGuest.travel, was inspired to make a difference after a trip to a Maasai tribesman’s village in Kenya in 2010. "I wanted to visit a local Maasai village. My driver told me it would cost $20, which I thought would go to helping the village. The friendly tribesman introduced me to his family and tribal elders and did a great job showing me around. However, they were still living a subsistence lifestyle. When I asked him why, as they were getting many tourists visiting them, he replied that he only gets $2 of the $20. The driver-guide takes the other $18. It’s a universal problem that de-motivates people who should be benefitting the most. BeMyGuest has therefore been created to bring just rewards to real tourism providers and benefit smaller, more local travel businesses," said Wong.
The website has already been shortlisted for the semifinals of the Web in Travel Travel Start-Up Pitch Competition 2012, which awards innovative travel start ups online.
"BeMyGuest addresses an emerging need," said Anna Pollock, a globally acclaimed tourism strategist, trend analyst and founder of Conscious Travel. "Today’s travelers want to touch and feel what is real, be transformed, and then come home with a different perspective. They want to know that the money they spend at their destination is a force for good, benefitting local hosts directly."
In just four weeks, BeMyGuest.travel has secured 5,000 unique rural and urban travel offerings, mostly local accommodation, events and activities around the world, focusing particularly on Asia and emerging destinations.
Learn yoga with a guru
Wong is seeking to add more local accommodation suppliers, tour operators and travel agents who have access to a wide range of local travel products that mainstream travel agents don’t usually sell.
Samples of travel experiences currently on BeMyGuest.travel, which has the tagline, "Stay Local, Play Local," include booking igloos, reserving the entire Sound of Music village in Switzerland for weddings, riding in a fighter jet to the edge of space, and enjoying secret dining events, from popular destinations such as Thailand, to off-the-beaten-track places such as Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.
"Small businesses without websites and businesses with websites who have limited experience of internet marketing and search engine optimization will benefit most from BeMyGuest.travel," said Wong.
He added: "We help market and distribute people’s unique travel products across our online and offline channels for free. We only get a small commission if the travel product gets booked. We want local communities to benefit from tourism."
Wong has advised leading travel companies around the world while working with Travelport, PhoCusWright and Euromonitor International.
Fly in a fighter jet
To ensure quality control, payment will only be made to the service provider after the guest has checked in or used the service. Guests are able to use BeMyGuest.travel to review the accommodation, activities and events afterwards. The site aims to simplify the search and book process. Through the use of bespoke technologies, Wong hopes to inspire travelers seeking unique experiences and convert them away from mass tourism packages, especially in emerging markets.
BeMyGuest has been structured to appeal to the entire spectrum of travelers, from backpackers to high-enders committed to authentic local tourism experiences.
"Whether people want to spend $5 or $500 a night, the accommodation or activity provider gets a larger share of tourism revenues," said Wong. "We use technology to empower traveler choice and help local businesses benefit more from tourism."