Jul 29, 2022 | Media Coverage

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After its Series B fund raise of six billion won (about US$4.6 million) last November, Seoul-based online travel agency Tripbtoz is planning to take its video-based travel app outside South Korea.

To date, the startup, founded in 2017 by former Expedian Jiha Jung, has raised 10.5 billion won (about US$8 million). Korean visual effects company Giantstep Inc., NICE Investment Partners, SJ Investment Partners and T.S. Investment participated in the latest funding.

Jung, who worked at Expedia from 2014 to 2017, is looking to open offices in Singapore and San Francisco to “export its self-expression, one-stop platform” to Southeast Asia and North America. In South Korea, its app which allows travelers to “play, share, stay” targets 20 to 30 year olds, 60% of whom are women, says Jung.

“This MZ generation wants self-expression, versus the previous generation who had social connection needs and before that, safety needs and survival needs,” he says. “Generation 2030 is the biggest online consumer in South Korea and 80% of consumption on OTAs is by youths.”

With the industry and consumers in transition, with lines blurring between the real world and metaverse, he wants to create a metaverse within Tripbtoz to excite its customers to create and share content and “minimize the steps of booking hotels.”

“We want to create a one-stop platform that travelers use at every stage of their travel,” says Jung, sharing this illustrated model of Tripbtoz, which won the WiT Seoul Startup of the Year in 2018. Pre-trip, it allows customers to search places; during the trip, customers can create content and follow recommendations by Tripbtoz; and post-trip, they can upload memories onto the app. Users who upload videos receive discount coupons in compensation.

Jung claims it made $30 million worth of hotel transactions in 2021, three million of which was shared with users in the form of Tripcash, its loyalty currency. Users, each of whom have their own unique QR code, can then use their Tripcash to buy everyday goods in South Korea.

He said the business has been profitable and achieved the breakeven point since last September.

Its new app, launched eight months ago, features a metaverse environment in which users can “plant” themselves in virtual worlds and create “self-expression” content. “They can create fake backgrounds and travel anywhere, and share that content. This is a generation that’s mobile first and 5G connected and during the pandemic, embraced the metaverse enthusiastically. This is a new experience for young people, they can switch between physical and virtual reality without hesitation.”

With this feature, he hopes to turn travel from a twice-a-year event into an everyday event in which users can “travel anywhere, anytime.’

In taking its model outside South Korea, Tripbtoz is looking to launch an English version of its website by this September, followed by Chinese.

Acknowledging that the Southeast Asian market is highly competitive, Jung says Tripbtoz would focus on user needs and user satisfaction. “Our reward system is very different from others. Users are much more involved in our product.”

It is also looking to scale its hotel content. Currently, 40% of the hotel content is in South Korea with the rest global. It has direct contract with 3,000 hotels in South Korea and Japan.