What do you look for when you travel? If you are a sucker for authentic local experiences like me, Voyagin may be the service for you. The Japanese tech startup is an online marketplace that allows tourists to discover and book unique experiences offered by locals in Asia. The team of six started their idea at Open Network Lab and has since secured seed funding from Digital Garage and other investors, as covered on Techcrunch earlier this year.
Tushar Khandelwal, Voyagin’s Head of Marketing and Community, shared with us that the startup currently offers over 460 experiences through 250 hosts. Already, the team has seen over 400 experiences booked with an average price of an experience at US$50. Of the 25,000 monthly visitors, the most number of bookings come from American, Singaporean, Australian, Japanese and UK guests.
Currently looking to relocate their headquarters to Singapore, Tushar shared why the island nation has such a big draw to the team. “Probably the most interesting travel trend that we’ve spotted is how many Singaporeans are willing to book experiences online. Several people had mentioned to us that it wouldn’t be worth our time to focus marketing our experiences to Singapore since the market hasn’t warmed to the idea of booking travel online. What surprised us the most is that Singapore was our number one referrer last month (number two overall since we’ve launched),” he said.
Experiences from Japan, India and Thailand have proven to be some of the most popular among guests. According to Tushar, some of the hottest experiences include learning calligraphy, karate, Japanese and Vietnamese cooking classes, and also watching sumo wrestlers train. Guests also look out for experiences that provide them with a better understanding of a given destination, such as visiting the slums of Delhi, the architectural history of Calcutta or Bangkok’s Chinatown at night.
In order to launch Voyagin, the team personally traveled around Asia to find, and curate, the best experiences and hosts. Tushar mentioned that the team has personally met over 90 percent of their hosts. For user acquisition, Voyagin currently sees about half of their traffic coming from Google’s organic search results due to optimisation of their experience descriptions.
Voyagin is actively searching for investors, strategic partners and talent for it’s Singapore move. They will be exhibiting at Echelon 2013’s Startup Marketplace.