According to GlobalData, China accounted for about 12% (159 million) of global outbound travel in 2019. Chinese outbound also had the second-highest spending last year, amounting to approximately US$275bn. With the recent COVID-19 outbreak and a ban on all travel from China, we are looking at one of the toughest periods for hospitality in the region.

Accord to a recent article:

According to estimations, Chinese visitors to Southeast Asia reached a record last year with close to 32 million arrivals. Thailand received the largest share of Chinese travellers in 2019 at almost 11 million, representing a third of all arrivals. Vietnam saw a jump of 17% in Chinese arrivals, is now the second most popular destination in ASEAN at 5.8 million. Singapore arrived third among ASEAN destinations for Chinese with some 3.6 million tourists recorded last year, according to first estimates.

Asean Travel, 28 Jan 2020

Removing these tourists completely from the region, as well as a natural slowdown due to health fears, there is definitely going to be difficult days ahead for the industry.

However, there may be solutions that also exist in the market that can help keep the hospitality industry afloat or alleviate the impact somehow. Startups across all industries are leading the way in innovation and change, and hospitality is no different.

Whether or not they present a solution or new opportunities is dependent on the market, startup and the local hospitality industry, but it might be worth looking at their solutions for an answer during this trying time.

We take a look at 5 hospitality startups in Southeast Asia that are making waves.

IDEM Hospitality, Singapore

Idem Hospitality is cloud software that wants to eliminate paper-based manual processes from hotels group business such as meetings, events and so on. Hotels that use their solutions can benefit from an increase in group revenue and productivity gains within their sales & reservations departments.

One of the lesser-known aspects of the travel industry is that group-travel is still facilitated by numerous manual processes. It is estimated that up to 85% of group business at hotels are still managed manually via spreadsheets. For events like corporate meetings & congresses, the event organiser does much of the legwork, collecting guest reservation data into a rooming list, it’s manual, time-consuming & error-prone.

IDEM Hospitality’s solutions aim to solve these issues and bring the convenience of digital solutions. Most recently, the startup took the top prize in 2019’s WiT Singapore Startup Pitch.

Bobobox, Indonesia

Indonesian capsule hotel startup Bobobox currently owns and operates 8 capsule hotels in Bandung, Jakarta and Semarang in Indonesia.The startup also recently announced an undisclosed pre-Series A funding round by existing investors Alpha JWC Ventures, Genesia Ventures, and other investors.

Bobobox capsule hotel. Image courtesy of Facebook

The pods at each capsule hotel are equipped with app-controlled door access, customisable lights, security, Bluetooth speakers, comfortable king-size bed, compact working space, and personal air conditioner.

ZUZU Hospitality, Singapore

Established in 2016, ZUZU Hospitality is a Singapore-based startup that offers hotel management services. Its software platform consists of online management and distribution tools, and the company also offers consultations to help independent hotels better manage their brand and revenue. The startup recently raised USD 3.7 million in a Series A round led by Wavemaker Partners.

ZUZU Hospitality co-CEOs Dan Lynn and Vikram Malhi

In a recent interview with us, Co-CEO Dan Lynn shared:

There are more than 30,000 independent hotels across Southeast Asia and almost 100,000 across the Asia Pacific region. Each of these independent hotels delivers a differentiated and local experience. By outsourcing their yield management to us, these independent hoteliers would be able to focus all their energy on delivering a great hospitality experience for their guests.

We do not want to see the hotel industry in Southeast Asia dominated by just a few big global chains. We believe that by empowering these independent hoteliers with great technology as well as the very best outsourced revenue managers, we can help the hotel market thrive and offer a rich diversity of travel offerings.

Former Expedia execs see great potential for hospitality in Asia, April 2019

Bedlinker, Vietnam

Established in 2017, BedLinker is a technology provider of integrated distribution solutions for hotels and resorts. The Vietnamese startup helps hotels and resorts to improve distribution processes and maximise revenue from their B2B customers through the latest technology, affordability, and support.

BedLinker has developed an integrated solution for hotels and resorts, which includes a B2B distribution management software called BedAllocator. This innovative tool allows hotels and resorts to manage their contracted & non-contracted B2B accounts through a B2B online portal with features such as contract management, rate plan management, allotment management, group booking, e-voucher, and email marketing.

On the other hand, serves as a B2B marketplace platform that helps hotels and resorts connect with more travel agents around the world.

Tripfez, Malaysia

Tripfez Travel was founded in Malaysia by entrepreneur Faeez Fadhlillah in 2013 to tap into the rapid growth of the global Muslim market. This year, that market is expected to represent US$ 183bn in global travel expenditure by 2020.

Image may contain: 3 people, bicycle and outdoor
Image courtesy of Facebook

With a vision is to help Muslim travellers explore the world in a faith-compliant manner, the online travel platform focuses on online bookings of halal-friendly travel packages and Umrah. It handles the flights, hotels, ground arrangements, visa applications and insurance.

It recently increased it’s global presence when it merged with Middle Eastern online travel agency Holidayme to form a powerful global travel company.