A Siem Reap-based startup has created a booking website for Cambodian hotels and guesthouses that it hopes will provide a local alternative to international heavyweights Agoda and Booking.com
At the recent travel-focused Startup Weekend, there was a consensus among the participants that Siem Reap has nothing resembling a “startup scene” for its tourism sector, despite being located next to the biggest tourist draw in the Kingdom, Angkor Wat.
But Meas Sinal, co-founder of Siem Reap-based startup Bayonia, is hoping to change that. The 32-year-old and his three team members are attempting to create a Cambodian alternative to international hotel-booking sites Agoda and Booking.com.
Sinal said what he hopes will set Bayonia apart from these giants is a smaller, curated range of accommodation approved by his team or trusted users, and specifically selected to appeal to the Cambodian market.
“We understand the specific needs of local Cambodian customers,” Sinal said. “For example, they need parking space, because many travel by car. They often need big family rooms and additional beds. There is also a special price range for locals, and we try to find the most suitable hotels for them.”
Having been developing the software since 2016 and launching late in 2017, the website currently only has a few listings in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Kampot, but Sinal plans to expand nationwide. While he acknowledges that it will be a time-consuming process to vet the accommodation, he believes this is what will make the business stand out. Right now the team is focused on product improvement and operations.
Meanwhile Sinal has one eye firmly on the long-term future and is looking beyond the Kingdom.
“At the moment we are focusing on the local market, but we are already in talks with other partners in Southeast Asia about expanding the concept of a local booking service,” he said. “We would need to make sure that we have the same level of customer understanding as we have in Cambodia already.”