Singapore-based travel marketing platform WhereisWhere is building up its global supplier database in advance of its consumer launch, and claims to offer another way for travel firms to sell direct to the consumer.
The site launched in April (see Tnooz StartUp Pitch) and now has 9,000 suppliers on the site, from hotel chains such as Marriott and Wyndham, national and regional tourist boards and specialists such as medical tourism operators.
It covers 20 cities, having grown from London and Singapore to its latest additions Dubai and Prague.
The consumer launch will be in the fourth quarter of this year. A live demo site was launched in May.
WhereisWhere allows hotels, destinations, restaurants, attractions or any travel business with a physical presence to claim their location by registering a pin in their name. Once the supplier has claimed its pin, it can access the site and upload its own content, from straightforward practical details to rich content or special deals.
Co-founder and CEO Terence Mak said that this gave suppliers ownership of their own location on the WhereisWhere map and was an alternative distribution channel to the OTAs. "Our suppliers can sell direct to the consumer from their own pin," he explained.
Suppliers who want to outsource the management of their WhereisWhere pin to a digital agency would be able to do so via authorised access.
WhereisWhere is also looking to exploit travellers' propensity to share via social media, creating a viral, word-of-mouth marketing channel for WhereisWhere which will help address concerns around customer acquisition costs for the consumer launch.
Mak referred to this as the "multiplier effect" - suppliers updating their account can share that across their own social channels, promoting the WhereisWhere platform as well as their content. In turn it is hoped that travelers will share the content among their own network.
WhereisWhere meanwhile will also share supplier updates with its growing network of media partners distributing the inventory even further. Skyscanner has been named as one of its launch partners.
The site's location focus also feeds into its own revenue streams, which is primarily geo-targeted ads, again focused in on the pin location. "We will make sure that the banner ads are very much related to the pin and we will do this as a display banner or via the right hand side listing model which is familiar to suppliers and customers," Mak added.
He is confident that the collaborative, industry-focused direct booking approach will resonate with the industry, while the "multiplier effect" will generate the consumer interest.
"The platform is in good shape as we look towards the consumer launch later this year and we are now concentrating on getting suppliers to claim their pin and start uploading content to the site."