More investment activity in the metasearch sector, with Wego getting a reported $12 million from Middle East media group MBC.
Wego is headquartered in Singapore with regional offices in India (Bangalore), Indonesia (Jakarta) and Dubai, from where it serves customers, mainly across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
Its newest investor MBC is a significant multimedia broadcaster operating across the Middle East, North Africa and globally. It started life in 1991 as a free-to-air satellite TV company and now has a dozen or so channels, websites and radio stations.
The release announcing the tie-up quotes Ross Veitch, CEO and co-founder of Wego talking about "leveraging MBC’s huge audiences as well as their considerable brand building expertise" and the "crossover potential between MBC’s programming and Wego’s online services."
Getting access to MBC's global audience gives Wego a possible short-cut (or better priced route) to customers. Wego is adding more video content to its platforms and believes that this is a way for Wego to make an impression with MBC viewers.
Wego says that it already sends referrals worth $1.5 billion to its partners every month.
The statement doesn't talk about the amount of money MBC has invested and for what stake, although business press in Dubai says MBC has injected $12 million.
Prior to MBC's stake, Wego had raised $45 million so far, according to its Crunchbase entry. In 2008, it secured a $4.5 million Series A round led by another media giant, NewsCorp. Other investors include Tiger Global Management, Crescent Point Group and SquarePeg Capital.
Metas are emerging as a new front in the increasingly three-way battle for global dominance. Expedia Inc and Priceline Group put a flag in the ground early on with their deals to buy Trivago and Kayak respectively. Priceline advanced with its recently completed $550 million purchase of Momondo and Cheapflights parent Momondo Group and only last week added Brazilian meta Mundi to the Kayak portfolio.
A recent report from Phocuswright and Expedia Affiliate Network named Wego as one of the biggest remaining metas in the market noting its strength in southeast Asia, the Middle East and Australia.
Talking of APAC, Ctrip has made a move with its purchase of Skyscanner - UK-based but globally active - and already has a Chinese meta marketplace of its own in Qunar. Ixigo in India is growing rapidly as a mobile-led meta.
Throw in TripAdvisor's pivot from reviews site to meta-inspired booking site and don't forget Google Flights and Google Hotels lurking in the shadows, biding their time, and it's clear why metas are centre-stage right now.
The investment in Wego suggests that the market is big enough for regional operators to co-exist with the global giants. If Wego can find a way to leverage MBC's "huge audience" to raise brand awareness and acquire customers - traditionally the areas where metas need to spend big - it might end up as more than a niche player.
Related reading from Tnooz:
Tripping.com nets $35 million, as investors come knocking for travel metasearch (Dec16)
Skyscanner’s take on the future of distribution (March17)
Middle East is the next battleground in online travel (Oct16)