Baolau banks on Thai office

NAKHON PHANOM, 28 June 2018: Baolau, predominantly a B2C platform for booking transport in the Mekong Region, will open an office in Thailand by 2019.

Focusing just on transport bookings (airline, rail and bus), the company will register a company in Bangkok by the end of the year, following an injection of funds from a Japanese investor.

The firm is currently appraising its Thailand registration options, either BOI privileges for technology companies, or through a local 51% shareholding partnership. 

Founded 2013, in Ho Chi Minh City, the company has embarked on expansion this year following its participation in the Mekong Innovative Startup in Tourism accelerator programme (MIST) in 2017.

Now according to founder and CEO, Alberto Moreno, Baolau has taken the next step expanding operations  to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Moreno made a presentation at the opening session of the Mekong Tourism Forum’s MIST seminar, Tuesday, on transport developments in the region and released details of his company’s expansions at a media briefing on the sidelines of the forum.

Earlier this year, the company launched ticket sales for Myanmar travel content starting with bus trips, but it is now expanding to include airline and rail bookings through a representation deal.

By early 2019, it will open its third full-fledged office in the region in Bangkok, to supplement its operational headquarters in Ho Chi Minh and the holding company registered in Singapore.

First conceived as a travel planning tool with information for air, rail, bus and ferry transport in Vietnam, the objective is to extend its footprint to all six countries in the Mekong Region.

The company’s revenue is mainly derived from booking fees paid by consumers averaging USD4 a transaction, but there are also commissions earned based on ticketing volume generated for rail and bus bookings. Some airlines waive service fees to give Baolau competitive fares.

More than 90% of its users are travel consumers, who are booking rail, bus and air travel in the Mekong Region including Yunnan and Guang Xi provinces in China.

Baolau added a number of airlines in the two Chinese provinces to its inventory earlier this year.

The balance of the business focuses on B2B travel firms that need to have online access mainly to rail and bus travel in the Mekong region.

Since April, the company has offered online ticket bookings for rail services operated by Malaysia’s KTM connecting Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to the train network of the State Railways of Thailand.

By the end of the year the company is confident that it can integrate rail services to Guangxi and Yunnan provinces and through intermediaries connect with China’s rail booking platforms for trips to eastern seaboard cities.

At present, the travel search engine lists 50 regional airlines serving the Mekong Region, more than 50 bus companies, 10 ferry operators and 14 national and private railways including Vietnam Railways, Cambodia Royal Railway, SRT Thailand and KTM Malaysia.

It averages sales of around 15,000 tickets per month in just Vietnam, its main base, followed by strong sales in Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR.

The largest source of traffic comes from Southeast Asia (50%) followed by Europe (25%), North America (6%) and North Asia (3.5%).