Hotel booking site launches with new business model for Asia

Thursday, 27 November 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

There is a new player in the competitive world of online hotel booking. Launched this week, is set to break new ground with a unique business model and a focus on business travellers across Asia and beyond. “The online travel space is really a single landscape – it’s all mass market, discount focused and ripe for disruption,” said Kaligo Co-Founder and CEO Kyle Armstrong. Where Kaligo sets itself apart is that it is totally customer-centric; it’s all about helping customers earn thousands more airline miles or points for their hotel stay. And with 300,000 hotels in 200 countries, there are plenty to choose from. How is Kaligo able to do this? The handful of players that dominate the landscape spend vast amounts on getting themselves noticed. Take Priceline Group. It has six online travel brands including, and KAYAK. Last year its online marketing costs surged 41% to $ 1.8 billion, outpacing sales growth of 29% and accounting for 3% of Google’s ad revenue. As a smaller, niche player with its sights set on the business executive market, Kaligo instead invests in rewarding customers for their loyalty, passing them the savings on advertising and marketing in the form of airline miles or points: often 10,000 per night, enough for a free flight or upgrade. And there’s no better time for an innovative company to be doing this. More SMEs are moving away from relying on travel agents and allow their staff to book their own travel. It’s this band of frequent travellers – business executives, sales representatives, those who travel regularly for work – that Kaligo is targeting. “Most are on the road all the time. They work hard and earn their miles with their flights, but for the amount of money they spend on hotels versus flights, the rewards they get are tiny. We are looking to flip the model,” said Armstrong who was previously General Manager of Consumer Travel ASEAN for American Express. And it’s not just the SMEs. Google was one of the first big corporations to do away with a corporate travel agent, giving staff control over their own travel budget. And Armstrong expects more multi-national companies to move in this direction. It’s easily done when the same staff already have frequent flyer accounts such as Asia Miles, JetPrivilege, AirAsia BIG or British Airways Executive Club that they can use to earn on Kaligo. With the site’s simple and intuitive design, enjoying greater rewards becomes effortless, further sweetend by an oftentimes generous first booking bonus. Hotel searches are automatically ranked by Kaligo’s proprietary algorithm, leveraging metasearch technology to help customers find best rates and the greatest rewards value. TripAdvisor ratings complete the picture. By moving out of the mass market game and focusing on a booming niche, Kaligo is able to offer its customers much more. “We’re smaller, but at a customer level the value we offer is huge,” said Armstrong. Established in Singapore in 2014 and with offices in London and Sydney, is changing the way travellers book accommodation online by offering greater rewards than ever before. With a specialist team, co-founders Kyle Armstrong and Sebastian Grobys who share backgrounds in travel, banking and loyalty have built a uniquely customer-centric site. Choosing from over 300,000 boutique and chain hotels at competitive rates, Kaligo customers earn thousands more miles and points, to the extent that one single booking can mean a free flight, upgrade or lifestyle treat. Partnering with world class airline and loyalty brands, Kaligo aims to deliver the broadest and best range of redemption options.