Since its launch in 2015, Wegogo has established itself as a
marketplace for unique, local travel experiences in Asia for outbound Chinese
On its WeChat and iOS apps, Wegogo has facilitated about
6,000 transactions from an inventory of more than 450 experiences on 12 islands
throughout Asia, allowing travelers to discover and book directly with
Now the company is in the midst of an ambitious effort to
scale – with a goal of offering 16,000 activities on 125 island destinations by
2020 – powered by the introduction of blockchain and creation of its cryptocurrency
known as WeGold.
The growth strategy is fueled by a plan to incentivize
travelers to share information on the platform about destinations and
experiences by rewarding them with WeGold tokens.
The payment structure is tiered, meaning the number of
tokens awarded varies based on the value of the traveler’s contribution.
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is rewarded with more tokens than a blog and a post that leads to a transaction
receives even greater compensation.
“We believe it is time to create what we call a fair-share
economy such that the early participants not only get value from being on the
platform but also that they be able to enjoy the long-term capital appreciation
from the tokens that they earn,” says Wegogo founder and CEO Mak Chee Wah.
The idea, says Reene Ho-Phang, a strategic advisor at Wegogo
and founder of marketing agency Brandstory Asia, is to create an alternative to
the current “winner takes all” model of the big online travel agencies.
In the white paper for its initial coin offering, which closes
October 31, Wegogo writes: “While the traditional big boys do contribute in the
whole distribution chain, perhaps the biggest injustice is the fact that they
are profiteering from the work of others.
"The mobile generation, through their
sharing of images and reviews of their own experiences on social media, are the
true marketers behind the best activities in destinations. But without a
platform to perform transactions, their contributions can never be acknowledged
In the Wegogo system, those who contribute content to the
site are known as PathFinders – travel enthusiasts that Wah describes as “the
travel agents of the future” – helping readers discover and book experiences
that they might not find on their own.
Currently Wegogo has about 170,000 followers on its platform
and about 10% of them regularly share their experiences.
Wegogo is focused on developing its platform to serve small,
locally-owned suppliers of long tail activities - what it calls Travel ASPs or aspirational
Ho-Phang estimates there are about 5,000 of these suppliers
on the small islands throughout Asia.
“The small ones are actually providing the most authentic
experiences that travelers want,” she says.
But, she says, these smaller suppliers are struggling to
reach the large – and growing – audience of Chinese travelers, who are expected
to make 220 million outbound trips by 2025.
“Currently the big OTAs are not serving this segment of
small travel providers,” she says.
The white paper states, “…small players are subject to often
unfair terms which disadvantages them economically. Examples include being force
to offer the lowest rates, long payment cycles, huge mark-ups by the big boys,
At the same time, many of these suppliers do not have the
financial resources and time to do their own marketing on social media and
So Wah sees Wegogo as a win-win – providing exposure and an
easy booking system for these long tail suppliers, providing unique travel
experiences for Chinese consumers, and providing a financial reward to everyone
who participates in the ecosystem.
Wah says in the same way .html made it easy for anyone to
publish content, he believes blockchain will decentralize transactions.
“That is the important premise we are basing this on,” he
says. For Wegogo, blockchain provides a transparent way to track every booking
back to the content creators so they can be rewarded.
Along with other payment methods such as credit cards,
WeChat Pay and AliPay, suppliers can opt to can opt to take payment in WeGold
tokens. They can also earn tokens for receiving positive reviews and for
actively promoting their services on the platform.
And because they are a cryptocurrency, the WeGold tokens serve
as a uniform, cross-border payment method, eliminating the need for suppliers to
pay exchange fees like they incur when they accept fiat currency from other
Wah says they are in talks with a variety of partners,
including airlines, hotels and traditional OTAs and he expects those partners
will accept WeGold as payment once the alliances are formed, likely in the
first quarter of 2019.