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All-star cast of founders and top brands assembled for WIT Dubai

A cast of top speakers, blending global and local expertise, has been
assembled for the inaugural Web In Travel Middle
East
to be held at the Sofitel The Palm
Resort and Spa
in Dubai on March 26-27.

The all-star cast includes
founders of some of the top online travel companies in the world namely
Trivago’s co-founder and CEO Rolf Schromgens, MakeMyTrip’s co-founder Keyur
Joshi, South Africa-based Travelstart’s founder Stephan Ekbergh and Travel.jp’s
co-founder & CEO, Kei Shibata.

Leading brands such as Google, Expedia, Skyscanner, Accor,
hotelscombined and Singapore’s Wego are also represented.

With a WIT signature being a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation,
the first WIT Middle East will also blend the global insights of top
entrepreneurs from around the world with leading players in the region’s
burgeoning start-up scene.

Fritz Demopoulos, a co-founder of Qunar, China’s leading travel search
engine and one of Asia’s biggest start-up success stories, will share a global
bird’s eye view of start-up trends. Since exiting Qunar after selling to Baidu,
Demopoulos is an active investor and advisor in start-ups around the world.

Giving his take on the start-up scene in the Middle East is Paul Kenny, founder
and CEO of e-commerce website Cobone, and travel website Triperna. Kenny, along
with Arya Bolurfrushan, recently set up Emerge Ventures, a fund for early-stage
investments in the region’s technology companies.

Emerge
Ventures recently closed its first investment fund MENA Fund I and has made its
first three investments within the UAE – The Impact Hub – a collaborative
incubator and co-working space to open in Souk al Bahar, Dubai; Lumba – a
Silicon Valley-based mobile gaming company focused on the Arabic-speaking
world; and Elevision – a new digital media network that broadcasts news,
information and advertisements from screens inside the lifts of premier towers
in the UAE.

Delegates will also have the opportunity to learn from the mistakes made
and lessons learnt from local start-ups such as Albert Dias, co-founder,
marketing & technology Director, Musafir.com, Girma Wossenseged, managing
director, EmiratesYoo.com by Kuoni Travel and Pieter Sleeboom, co-founder and
COO, Triperna.com.

“A key signature of WIT events is the blending
of global knowledge and local insights to create a true exchange of learning
for both overseas and local delegates,” said Yeoh Siew Hoon, editor and
founder of the Singapore-based WIT, which also
holds events in Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia and across the
region.

Visit Britain, Tourism Queensland and the Singapore Tourism Board will be
represented in a session about “The Outbound Promise: Understanding the Middle
East traveler” alongside local experts including Nasiruddin Mohammed Shafiq,
general manager, Regency Travel and Tours, Francis Dharmai, head of tourism, Al
Tayyar Travel Group and Mohamed Jassim Al Rais, deputy managing director, Al
Rais Tours and Holidays.

Hospitality brands with specialist knowledge such as Trust
International, a leading name in hotel distribution and Circos Brand Karma,
social media analytics and digital marketing firm, will bring their unique
insights to the first event in the Middle East to focus on travel marketing,
distribution and technology.

And with aviation playing such a vital role in the Middle East travel
promise, airlines and airports will be a key part of the agenda. Confirmed thus
far are Abdul
Wahab Teffaha, Secretary General, Arab Air Carriers Organization, Sameer Poonja,
Head of Digital Technologies, Emirates, Lewis Naim, head of marketing and brand
management, Dubai Airports and Cengiz Dirgimenci, online sales and marketing
manager for Turkish Airlines.

This is WIT’s first Middle East edition in recognition of the booming
online and ecommerce opportunity in travel.

“More speakers are being confirmed as we enter the new Year and we are excited
about kicking off WIT’s 10th anniversary with our first conference
in one of the world’s most exciting and untapped regions when it comes to
online travel,” said Siew Hoon.

Click here for
the programme

Register here

About Web In Travel (WIT)

Web In Travel is a community for anyone passionate about travel technology, distribution and marketing. This basically means if you love travel, and if you are a bit of a technology freak in terms of wanting to understand how technology is changing travel, you are one of us.

We provide news through our website and social feeds, and run events that are strong in content and different in style and delivery. We launched our first event in 2005 and have been spreading learning through events in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Our events include the flagship WIT Conference, WIT Japan, WIT Indonesia, WITX – Women Redefining Travel, WIT Bootcamp for start-ups and investors and WIT Summercamp, our coaching event for young professionals and entrepreneurs.

Our purpose is to take your mind to new places so that together, we can accelerate travel innovation.

To get in touch with us, please contact:

Gerry Pang         +65 979 77730 / +66 87 887 6623 gerry@webintravel.com

Angeline Rivera  +971 4 298 1775 angeline@webintravel.com

www.webintravel.com

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“Midas touch” investor joins judges for the annual Web In Travel conference’s Start-Up Pitch

26 Aug 2013 – SINGAPORE – Jixun Foo, the Singapore-born-and-educated managing partner of GGV Capital, based in Shanghai, will join a panel of judges for the WIT Start-Up Pitch 2013, powered by Abacus Ventures, at the 9th edition of the Web In Travel conference held at Suntec from 21-23 October 2013.

Foo is known for his “Midas Touch” – he was ranked 11th on “The Midas List 2007” by Forbes and has been annually awarded one of “Best Venture Capitalists” by Forbes China since 2006. In 2012, he was recognized as one of the Top 10 Venture Capitalists by Zero2IPO and also named to the 2012 Venture Capital 100 by Always-On. He was one of the first to invest in Baidu when he was a director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson ePlanet Ventures. He joined GGV in 2006 and the company has US$1.6 billion capital across four funds.

Today, he serves on the board of directors for Qunar, Youku-Tudou (NYSE: YOKU), Tujia, MediaV, and Douguo. He is also very actively involved with Meilishuo.com, UCWeb, AAC Technologies, Chaoli and Meihua (600873.SS).

As a venture capitalist focusing on the Internet and mobile sectors, Jixun Foo is interested in anything that disrupts and as such, he is keeping an eagle eye on mobile. He is particularly interested in travel due to the size and complexity of the industry which lends itself well to disruption. “Travel is a very interesting space. It’s huge. Everyone loves to travel. It’s fragmented. It needs sorting out,” he said.

He added “mobile first” models were particularly interesting, because consumer behaviour was changing so fast with mobile devices. “Each of us has several devices now,” Foo says, as he points to his array of gadgets. “A traveller, when he lands at a destination, needs help with knowing where to stay, what to do and what to see. Mobile devices lend themselves nicely to this need”.

As part of Foo’s personal mission to nurture entrepreneurship and innovation in Singapore, he’s part of a team of angel investors that looks to help start-ups find their feet. For instance, he is on the board of Flocations, the marketplace for tour packages.

– End –

Notes to editors:

  • To enter, startups can submit their entries at http://www.webintravel.com. The deadline for submissions is August 31.
  • Interviews with the speakers mentioned may be arranged. Please contact our press relations officer at the contact details below.

About the WIT Start Up Pitch Judging Panel

New members of the panel of judges include Rei Kawano, Analyst with Gree Ventures, who focuses on consumer internet in South East Asia. She is currently working closely with three companies: BerryBenka – Indonesian fashion eCommerce, Luxola – Singapore-based beauty eCommerce and UrbanIndo – Indonesian real estate online market place.

And Anurag Srivastava, Managing Partner of Jungle Ventures, an early investor in Travelmob, for which he has since exited with the acquisition by HomeAway, will also join the panel this year.

Returning to the panel are Fritz Demopoulous, CEO of Queen’s Road Capital, and Kei Shibata, CEO of Venture Republic, Japan. Demopoulous has set up his own fund following his successful exit from Qunar which sold to Baidu and has been making investments in travel start-ups in emerging markets. Shibata, whose company recently sold its shopping comparison site, coneco.net, to Yahoo! Japan, has also set up a subsidiary in Singapore to scour for travel start-up opportunities in emerging markets.

The Competition

The judges pick from a shortlist of candidates who pitch live to conference delegates and the judging panel at the Grand Finals at the WIT Conference, October 22-23. Travel startup companies 0-3 years, are encouraged to register. They first workshop their ideas with mentors, then pitch against each other at the WIT Bootcamp on October 21, preceding the main conference.

This year’s WIT Start-Up Pitch is powered by Abacus Ventures, which is making strategic investments in travel. Abacus Ventures director Rani Francois Marie-Saad will also a member of the judging panel.

“More names are being added to the panel. What we want is to put together a panel that represents the most astute minds in investment, entrepreneurship and e-commerce, and people who are passionate about travel. These judges also believe in coaching and mentoring start-ups,” said Yeoh Siew Hoon, editor and founder of WIT.

Success

The WIT Bootcamp in 2013 will feature a panel of the Start-Up Pitch winners of previous years. Last year’s winner, Trippiece, a social travel planning site in Japan, recently received US$2 million funding and will be expanding in Southeast Asia.

About Web In Travel

Web In Travel (WIT) is a successful conference and community that discusses distribution, marketing and technology in the travel, hospitality and tourism industries. WIT has a reputation of facilitating start-ups and innovation. The theme of the conference this year is “The Asia Factor” which will examine the trends that are changing travel and Asia, the new models that are emerging and evolving, the new players that are changing the game and space and the markets and customers that are emerging in what is the Golden Age of Asia Travel.

New Zealand's House of Travel is WIT's Groovy Marketer Posted on 19 Oct 2011 at 09:23 am

House of Travel, New Zealand was hailed as Web In Travel’s first Groovy Marketer at its annual conference this week as part of its inaugural WITovation Awards 2011, presented by Amadeus Asia.

Pctiured: Niall White of House of Travel

The Christchurch-based tour operator was chosen by WIT for an innovative mix-and-match game on Facebook, which was such a huge success that it will be launching another game shortly.

The Mix and Match game, which allowed players to match friends with holiday prizes, was played in two rounds over 28 days. In all, it attracted 68,070 unique players, saw 279,613 competition entries with a 13-minute average time spent per session and resulted in 37,128 total hours engagement with its customers. It also gathered 16,000+ new Facebook Likes (fans) over the period.

“Groovy Marketer”  was the only editorial choice in the WITovation Awards, the rest of which was through a nomination and judging process.

Said Ms Yeoh Siew Hoon (pictured right), editor and founder, WIT, “It was a hard decision because there are a lot of companies doing good and fun things in digital, and there were some of the obvious more high profile examples.

“But I chose House of Travel because one, as a traditional tour operator, it is battling against the odds in a world turned topsy-turvy by technology and changing customer behaviour, it operates in a very small market – four million people – so it has to be extra creative; and New Zealand is really far from anywhere so every trip it sells is almost a longhaul one except if it’s just across the ditch; and it’s in a space which has been regarded as slow to move into the new areas like social media.

“Yet it has managed to stay on top of changing trends and changing customer behaviour with other things it’s done and this year, launched this Facebook campaign that was both groovy and fun. The idea of a slot machine-type competition, I thought, would work so well in the Asian context given that two of the world’s biggest gaming destinations are now here – Macau and Singapore.”

In the other categories:

Pictured: Cleartrip’s Satyajeet Singh with the award

Cleartrip India was awarded Mobile Mover – the judging panel, led by Timothy Hughes, CEO of Getaway Lounge, Australia, chose the Indian OTA’s mobile apps for their excellent user experience, simplicity and ease of use. “Simply excellent. Booking process very fast, easy to use, and if you have an account it is even easier,” was a comment. See Cleartrip mobile.

Pictured: Accor’s Maria Taylor saying thanks

Accor Australia was the Social Groover for its creative celebration of its 20th anniversary which revolved around the message “A lot can happen in 20 years – share your moment” and it invited the public to share life changing moments around their website. The judging panel, led by Morris Sim, CEO and Co-founder of Circos Brand Karma, praised the campaign for its “stories, likeable characters and authenticity”.

Added Sim, “In this year’s Social Groover entries we saw interesting use of social media for branding. The winning entry, Accor Australia, connected with users emotionally in its use of memories, pictures, and videos through multiple channels.

“Accor integrated users sharing their experiences in social media with traditional marketing channels such as broadcast and retail. As social media becomes mainstream, marketers will incorporate social channels as part of the overall brand engagement, and Accor’s campaign can be used as a successful case study.”

(Watch video here)

Ibis on Bencoolen, Singapore won in the Groove Specialista for its successful viral Pay What You Want campaign when it opened its doors with the judges, led by Jens Uwe Parknity, managing director, Expedia Affiliate Network, saying that other than it being a novel idea, it had a clear message, demonstrated consistent use of regional social media networks and blogging sites, and delivered measurable results. The campaign generated 10,000 registered members from over 100 countries, a total of 80,000 addresses were collected and it attracted 57,000 unique visitors. It also resulted in substantial room revenues.

Pictured: A jubilant Puneet Dhawan from Ibis on Bencoolen

Pictured: AirAsia’s Frank Bateman with the trophy

• The Customer Lover award went to AirAsia. The judges, led by Timothy O’Neil-Dunne, managing partner of T2 Impact, said it came to a close call between AirAsia and Cleartrip but “we believe that Air Asia with its reach and pedigree of loving its customers just edged out Cleartrip’s entry”.

The judges commented, “Air Asia’s approach is very user-friendly and appeals to a wider market with varied demographics. The use of a named Avatar gives the service a personality and creates an online rapport with the user. This service exceeds customer expectations regarding budget airlines where cheap equates minimal service.”

Added the judges, “We also want to give honourable mention to Banyan Tree who submitted in a separate category as we believe that they provide a special kind of love for their customers.”

GetFlight is a winner!

Picture: GetFlight’s Ian Cumming celebrating with judge Don Birch

Meanwhile, in a live competition round today (October 19) GetFlight won the Grooviest Start-Up. At the WIT Bootcamp on October 17, Monday, seven start-ups pitched to a panel of investors and advisors, out of which three finalists – FlextripGetFlight  and TourPackages.sg – were chosen. The panel of judges included investors from around the world, and also featured two representatives from the Business Angel Network of South-east Asia (BANSEA).

The WITovation awards

The WITovation awards are aimed at recognising companies or individuals which have made a difference in a chosen field, either through a specific marketing campaign or an overall strategy, in the digital travel space.

‘We congratulate all our winners who have shown creativity and innovation in an exciting space in travel and hopefully they will inspire others to follow,” said Ms Yeoh. “We also want to thank our judges for putting in the time and effort and to those companies who sent in their nominations, thank you for supporting our inaugural awards.’

Karun Budhraja, Regional Director, Corporate & Marketing Communications, Amadeus, said, “Amadeus is very proud to be associated with the WITovation awards in its first year. These awards recognise innovation and excellence and they are two things we like to aspire to ourselves. This year it’s all about finding your groove and I hope the WITovation awards go forward in leaps in bounds in the same say that WIT has.”