The shutdown of Indonesian tourist activities and travel marketplace Tripvisto in October has left a big question unanswered. How come such thing happened to a business with such bright potential and lucrative target market, particularly among the millennials?

Tripvisto is a startup that had been focussing in this business since 2014 and had raised a relatively massive funding rounds (US$1 million in its latest funding round) from several leading investors such as East Ventures and Gobi Partners.

Founded by Bernardus Sumartok, who had also shut down a similar business called Flamingo, Tripvisto once experienced a positive business growth. It had recruited a great number of people to its team, moved to a bigger office space, and secured thousands of domestic and international trips.

But the tough competition in the travel and tourism industry has led Tripvisto to close down its shop. While DailySocial has not been successful in confirming this to Sumartok himself, but his views on the travel marketplace sector can be seen on our DScussion #59 video.

A heavily fragmented sector

In the Indonesian market, there are currently plenty of startups providing a marketplace for domestic and international travel and tourism activities.

An example of such startup is the newly launched Triprockets. It offers a service similar to Airbnb, based on the principles of sharing economy. Triprockets said it was built to provide a unique alternative for local tourists travelling in Indonesia or other countries.

Also Read: Tour and activities marketplace Tripvisto gets funding from East Ventures

Speaking of the failure experienced by similar service, Triprockets CMO Raymond Iskandar said that while it was shocking, the tours and activities sector is still considered as the only green field in the travel and tourism industry.

“But being a green field means that there are many things that still need to be done. So it is not impossible for us to still be building the foundation of our business in the next five years.”

Iskandar proceeded by saying that the sector is still heavily fragmented. There are thousands of small- and medium-sized operators spread around the world; it has made it difficult for businesses to act as an aggregator, unlike in other industries such as hotel or flight bookings (OTA). It is relatively easy for them to sell their products online with the existing data.

“It is not as easy for the tours and activities category as it has to include things such as multi-day tour, daily tour, walking tour, bicycle rides, cooking classes, and the ticket price for a theme park. So you can imagine how hard it is to connect them all and have them ‘speaking in the same language,’ as it is already a challenge of its own to put them under one consistent category,” Iskandar said.

A business model with an extremely wide scope

For Traventure, a marketplace that aims to connect tour creators with new attraction enthusiasts in Indonesia, what had happened to Tripvisto is caused by the overwhelming variety of services offered in the platform. It has led Tripvisto to struggle in finding its focus.

“Meanwhile, Traventure started off as the antithesis [of Tripvisto]; we started off with the mission to gather and empower every individual in Indonesia to create and display their own tour packages. We call this the bottom-up approach. We want our collection to be similar to Tripvisto’s: Rich and diverse. But we also [want to be] a marketplace that offers alternative collection,” Traventure co-founder Bondan Sentanu Mintardjo told DailySocial.

Other challenges that the business is still facing is the difficulty in quantifying the market’s expectation for an “abstract” product like experiences and activities, which is the main commodity on the platform.

“Lifestyle changes (that are related to generation gap) should also be studied carefully to ensure a clear demographic target, as each [segment] has different natures and needs,” Mintardjo said.

Also Read: Takeaways from a sharing session with Traveloka CTO and Co-founder Deriant Kusuma

Building a creative and adaptative survivor mindset

Both Ttriprockets and Traventure are still aiming to find the right momentum for their business to grow rapidly. In order to achieve that, one of the keys to success is to survive by being more creative. Both startups see that today is an ideal time to launch their businesses, as they both target millennials, who are into unique and interesting tourism activities.

“For me personally, this is actually the best time for the sector. As the baby boomers generation lessens its domination in the world travel market, it will be easier for us to penetrate to a market led by younger generations,” said Iskandar.

According to Mintardjo, for businesses to survive, startups working in the same industry should aim to be more creative. Do not try to dictate the market with an outdated trip collection.

“The tourism business is a creative and sustainable business, so respect the nature of this business by acting accordingly. Traventure itself is still on its way to become like that; we still have to go through long and winding road. But in line wih the spirit of travelling itself, that is where the fun is,” he said.

Other factors that need to be higlighted is the ability to adapt and refrain from being too “in love” with existing business model. Startups should focus on its end goal of providing what the customers want, regardless of the business model.

“Even corporate giants will fail if they are not able to change and adapt. Triprockets started out by selling tickets for attractions, activities, and tours based on the two-sided B2C marketplace pattern, which I feel is similar to Tripvisto’s concept. But along the way, it just turned out that this peer-to-peer marketplace was the best way to serve great activity experiences for our customers. If this hasn’t worked out then keep adapting your business model,” Iskandar said.

Mintardjo also made a similar statement for the unique tourism packages platform that he is running. Despite its young age, Mintardjo and his team believed that the business will experience positive growth in the long run.

“The hypothesis that we believe in, which remains consistent for as long as we run Traventure, is in giving ‘a human’s touch’ into our app platform, so that it becomes more than just a rigid window display. Because once again, we are selling an experience that has a lot to do with customers’ sense of fulfillment and spirituality,” Mintardjo said.

The article Strategi Startup Perjalanan Wisata dan Aktivitas Lokal, Belajar dari Penutupan Tripvisto was written by Yenny Yusra for DailySocial. English translation and editing by e27.

Image Credit: mimagephotography / 123RF Stock Photo