Travel TechnologyCEO Blanca Menchaca credits the pandemic for creating better business opportunities for the tech company.

Covid didn't kill BeMyGuest but made it stronger

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Blanca Menchaca: “Now we are just waiting for the next wave of recovery from the largest markets in Asia.”
Blanca Menchaca: “Now we are just waiting for the next wave of recovery from the largest markets in Asia.”

After a tough two years, a time Blanca Menchaca, CEO and co-founder of BeMyGuest, would rather not remember, her attractions, tours and activities, technology company is “pretty much fully recovered”.

And this, “without China, Japan and Hong Kong and South Koreans not fully travelling yet, so it’s pretty impressive”, she said. “The silver lining was, we absorbed all the volume that offline travel agents without access to tech left behind as well as some of the volume from the foreign companies that pulled out of the region.”

What also helped were its two pillars of business – its booking system for attractions which helped when domestic business first returned, enabling it to capture the transactions of tour operators in Southeast Asia, and its distribution business when cross-border travel to Southeast Asia resumed.

We all died, and we got a chance to go back with all the knowledge from the first game, to restart with all the tricks in the bag.– Blanca Menchaca, CEO and co-founder, BeMyGuest

“Now we are just waiting for the next wave of recovery from the largest markets in Asia,” she said.

During the downtime of the two years, it took the opportunity to double down on tech. “A lot of companies talked about pivoting, we remained loyal to our thinking. We doubled down on tech, developing a lot of integration for distribution, with third party systems, to hardware We developed more modules for group sales, point of sale and e-commerce.

“We went deep into developing 360 degree solutions for attractions and travel activities, combining distribution and booking.

“Our market mix also changed, we developed distribution from markets such as Middle East – Dubai opened much earlier than others – and some destinations in Europe and the US.”

The painful process of restructuring and cost-cutting – it reduced its headcount by 40% – will stand it in good stead as business volume returns. “We made the tough decisions very early on,” she said.

As for how the tours and activities landscape has changed, Menchaca said: “You have to look at it at three levels – the mega attractions which had the resources to survive and made big investments in tech and API integration, the medium sized operators who started to invest in e-commerce and software for operations.

“The long tail, we have yet to see. A lot pivoted outside travel, especially in Southeast Asia. We don’t know if we will ever see them back.”

She sees a similar trend with travel agencies. “The smaller offline travel agents changed models. Some companies went into transport services and transfers. Some invested in better tech. But I haven’t seen an example of an offline crossing over to online.”

With or without the pandemic, she said the OTA share was always the fastest growing and the online channel has definitely accelerated. “OTAs have become stronger for sure, their investment in UX, mobile – they add a lot of value to the consumer, but operators of tours and activities also have to control their own distribution.”

She said BeMyGuest has emerged stronger after surviving Covid. “Anyone who invested in tech will be stronger, they will reap the benefits. We had to reduce our team a lot and we don’t need the same headcount as before even when we surpass the previous volume of business. We can do more with less because of tech.”

As for how it has changed her, she said, “Me and the entire industry, it has made us more humble.”

At times, she said she felt like she was a character in the video game series, Diablo, that she played when she was younger. “We all died, and we got a chance to go back with all the knowledge from the first game, to restart with all the tricks in the bag.”

Source: WiT

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