Technology / May 2018

Cheapest Rates for Travel Itineraries

By Eko Prasetyo

A new aggregator for global online travel agents has been established in Indonesia. diOPENTRIP was launched in April with the attendance of Jakarta’s Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno.

Its aim is simply to become a “one-stop travel solution” by establishing partnerships with various travel agents to gather various resources, compare prices and connect them directly with an increasing number of travelers.

GlobeAsia interviewed diOPENTRIP CEO Raine Renaldi, who revealed several leading features provided by the latest mobile marketplace for travel necessities and his dream of shifting the public’s understanding on traveling.

“We are trying to gather all available global travel agents, compare their prices and promote them to our users. So, we are a B2C company, but significantly different from other online or mobile travel applications,” Raine said, adding that diOPENTRIP provides services unlike any other travel app.

“We have several features in our app, such as the private jet rental service, group booking — where you can book up to a full plane at one time — and our VIP services for our users,” said Raine, who is also a private business consultant.

The platform has partnered with several vendors, including in-airport vendors such as private lounges and private assistants, to cater to the special needs of its users.

“Each of our service can be accessed easily through our mobile app, which is currently available on Google Playstore,” Raine said. diOPENTRIP will also be launched in Apple’s App Store in the near future.

When asked about the bargaining feature dubbed “Nego” in the app, Raine said that it is complementary to diOPENTRIP’s tagline of becoming “the best, the most complete and the cheapest.”

“We compare the best available price in the available websites, airlines or travel agents. And once we have them, our clients may also bargain for even cheaper prices by using the “Nego” feature,” he said. “It is one of our warranties for our customers to ensure they will have the cheapest available rate.”

Raine added that, contrary to other mobile applications, users can easily select and purchase the lowest rate offered by diOPENTRIP or bargain the price in a separate page within the platform.

“They can easily decide between an instant purchase, which is a purchase based on the lowest price available, or bargain the lowest price directly to us,” Raine said. Meanwhile, diOPENTRIP’s customer relations officers will cater to those who decide to bargain the rates.

Creating synergy Currently, diOPENTRIP’s target is not to compete with other travel agents, as Raine said it is aiming to create synergy with other platforms, both online or offline. “Instead of competing with existing competitors at this point, we are initiating a synergy with them. If they have the lowest price, we will definitely show it in our platform,” he said.

“We monetize from commissions, as we have a marker for every transaction directed from our site. Moreover, we also have a special affiliated dashboard for every transaction in our ‘Nego’ feature,” he said, adding that the company’s income can be traced from its sales.

The creation of diOPENTRIP itself came from Raine’s personal experience, as he had difficulties comparing the lowest rates from several apps, as well as the surcharge imposed by some existing platforms for their services.

“In the end, I either forgot where they (the offers) were or was faced with increasing prices when I returned to the app I opened earlier,” Raine stated. “With diOPENTRIP, I am trying to eliminate these issues to create a better user experience.”

Meanwhile, with Raine’s only target of becoming a one-stop travel solution, diOPENTRIP is striving to continuously develop its services and features. The market, according to the CEO, will determine what kind of additional features to be added.

“It is simply becoming a one-stop shop for all traveling needs,” Raine said, confirming that services like on-location photography or private tour guides will most likely be added depending on public demand.

“Now, our target is to reach one million downloads as our first milestone. We are also preparing to expand into neighboring countries in Asia. Within this five-year period, we would have run the online and offline services, as we are also gearing up to open offline representative offices in several major cities in Indonesia,” he said.

Raine added that with increasing demand for synergy, diOPENTRIP will be combining several elements in its platform, focusing on travel and tourism. “The largest market today is the middle-class man, as it was one of the references to get me started with diOPENTRIP. I also feel that it would be easier for me to educate this group in comparison to other existing groups,” Raine said.

These factors have made Raine, who is also the president of Batara Dewa Trading Academy and the founder of Parahyangan University Businessmen’s Federation, have faith in the growth of the tourism sector, especially given that Indonesia is set to receive a demographic bonus.

“When the market is finally filled with demands and buyers, I will already have our app perfectly set with all available services and features that they can benefit from,” he stated.

Overcoming challenges The most difficult challenge faced by diOPENTRIP is to shift public perception that it is merely an online travel agent. Raine was grateful to those who had initially educated the public on using the existing travel apps. “Now, it is only to differentiate the perception that diOPENTRIP is an application that combines these other platforms in a single marketplace,” he added.

The most common question people ask is why they should use diOPENTRIP, when there are existing applications such as Traveloka, Agoda or Trivago. Raine’s reply was simply to highlight the features in his app that are not available in other applications.

“If they think they would need this platform, then they are more than welcome to download the app and use it,” he said, adding that while these services are priced according to the type of service, they would be available at the lowest rate in the market.

Another challenge Raine is facing is the growth of diOPENTRIP. It is aiming to do fundraising after the app reaches one million downloads. “We are still bootstrapping at the moment.”

Initially, Raine and his partners put no more than Rp10 billion of initial funds to create diOPENTRIP. However, these challenges are nothing compared to the demands on both online and offline platforms. In the future, Raine is also planning to create business-to-business services after all the required infrastructure is fulfilled.

Additional benefits In 2018, diOPENTRIP is planning to establish offline branches in five cities: Jakarta, Denpasar, Bandung, Medan and Makassar. It also plans to add more features, including an online restaurant reservation feature for the most visited tourism destinations and online food delivery services to cater to travelers.

Users will also be protected from any cancellations that may occur when they book flights or hotels. “If there were any cancellations made under the ‘Nego’ feature, our team would be able to arrange solutions for our users, such as refund or rescheduling. Meanwhile, if it were an instant purchase, then the user would have to be directed to the respective vendor,” Raine said, adding that diOPENTRIP is partnering with a third party to develop a credible payment gateway.

In the future, diOPENTRIP also plans to “aid” users to boast their travel plans in social media. “If it is possible, I would have everyone purchasing their tickets from us to be allowed a shortcut into posting it in their social media platforms, or even creating a social media platform that will automatically connect with diOPENTRIP,” Raine said.

On sustainability, he added that private jet or VIP services bookings would remain his leading product, although diOPENTRIP is not only focusing on these.

“We are actually filling up a gap to satisfy public, by providing inexpensive but qualified services and eliminating unnecessary additional payments. We are positioning ourselves as a client-centric business that focuses on our users’ needs.”