GoArchipelago.com offers unique travel experiences hosted by individuals or independent tour operators throughout Indonesia and promises to share its revenue with organizations who bring education to the most remote parts of the nation.
The man behind GoArchipelago, Henry Vienayoko, is unlike the stereotypical 20-something startup founder with dreams of overnight success. Henry has reached his 40s and worked his way for years through multinational companies, before deciding the time had come to set out with an experiment in social entrepreneurship. He felt he had amassed the necessary experience and persistence to bootstrap his own operation for the upcoming years.
The idea to create a service in the tourism sector began to form in 2011. As one of Jakarta’s first AirBnB hosts, he found himself frequently giving out travel tips to his guests. They were intrigued by the many opportunities Indonesia has to offer but found it hard to navigate the more remote areas due to lack of infrastructure and language barriers. Another trend he discovered from talking to his guests was that most wanted to make sure their adventures would contribute to preserving local customs and ecosystems, rather than being destructive.
With this in mind, Henry developed the concept for GoArchipelago: a site that would give access to tours off the beaten track, with trustworthy guides, while giving back to the community as a whole by donating specifically to education.
How it works
GoArchipelago operates with marketplace principle, meaning individual hosts and tour operators can publish their own offers on the platform by describing the experience and setting the price.
The platform went live on Feb. 15, with 14 different offers, ranging from a “spiritual journey” to Barus, a small town on the West coast of Sumatra, to a tour of the salt lands of Madura — places which rarely find their way onto the mainstream tourist itinerary.
The way the tours are described also deviates from the norm. Instead of a the painstakingly detailed breakdown of activities — including scheduled breaks for food and rest — tours on GoArchipelago are described with a lofty “5 senses” principle; what will I see, hear, feel, taste and smell during this trip?
The intention to activate prospective travelers’ senses is good, however as a result the descriptions on GoArchipelago now fall short on some hard facts such as type of accommodation or meals to be expected. The site does encourage potential travelers to take up a personal exchange with the host before booking, so these details are provided before any transaction is made.
Once travelers decide to follow through and book, they will have to accept a 7 percent fee on top of the trip price. From this fee, GoArchipelago takes 70 percent and donates 30 percent to the organization Sabang Merauke. In the future, GoArchipelago will have several NGO partners and the travelers can choose which one they wish to support through their fee. The payment transaction costs are carried by the host, meaning that 4 percent will be deducted from the trip price before it reaches their pockets.
Let’s spell this out in numbers. Say, the average trip is set at a price of $200, the final cost the traveler commits to amounts to $214. GoArchipelago takes $14, gives $4.2 away and keeps the remaining 9.8. The hosts receives USD $192 after transaction fees have been deducted. Clearly, the model requires a significant scale. Assuming 1,000 bookings are made in one month, GoArchipelago makes $9,800 while donating USD 4,200 to education charities.
According to numbers issued by the Ministry of Tourism, 8.8 million foreign travelers visited Indonesia in 2013, with a continuous upward trend expected in the years to come. The challenge for GoArchipelago will be to address and convince their particular brand of highly individualistic travelers with a do-good attitude within this segment. Another challenge will be to break into the existing habits of these types of travelers, who already have access to established guidebooks, travel rating websites, and local tour operators on the ground to help them plan their travel adventures.
GoArchipelago has competitors in Indonesia, such as the similarly named Gogonesia.com; yet none combine the travel marketplace idea with the aspect of doing good through donation.
Henry’s plan over the next month is to focus on increasing the number of truly unique, verified offers first, before attempting to reach out to customers on a large scale through strategic partnerships and marketing.
After the web application, a mobile app will follow. Suggesting trips to tourists already in the country based on their specific locations might be a winning strategy for GoArchipelago, since most of their trips are very local, usually remote, and do not last for more than a few days.
Would you consider booking your next holiday getaway through GoArchipelago? Check out their website at GoArchipelago.com.
Nadine is a digital strategy consultant based in Jakarta. She has a passion for cutting edge technologies that change the way we communicate, create, or appreciate culture. Drop her a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @TrishankuID.
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