Book hotel rooms, travel via virtual reality

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / graphic by MZUKRI MOHAMAD

THE Malaysian Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) has collaborated with pitchIN to create a virtual reality (VR) platform online travel agency (OTA) called Igoroom for travelling and hotel room bookings.

MDEC tech ecosystem and globalisation VP Gopi Ganesalingam said public-private initiatives will be crucial in realising the goals of the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint and Malaysia 5.0.

“MDEC will continue to collaborate with platforms like pitchIN to facilitate and curate alternative fundings to ensure catalysation and growth of our start-up ecosystem and grow our very own unicorns,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Since last year, MDEC has facilitated funding amounting to RM48.3 million for 26 local start-ups via an equity crowdfunding platform, which is expected to be an important avenue for start-ups during these uncertain times.

PitchIN CEO Sam Shafie was delighted to see some high-profile investors in Igotopia’s fundraising round on the equity crowdfunding platform.

“Igotopia is providing a valuable solution to the much-impacted tourism industry.

“It is creating a brand new experience in online booking and with headquarters in Malaysia, we are looking forward to a rapid global expansion,” he said.

The parent company of the platform, Igotopia, will take shape through the company’s wholly owned subsidiaries, Gecko Digital Global Ltd and Igotrip Sdn Bhd.

To date, it has raised RM5.9 million in equity crowdfunding which will eventually top off at RM8.2 million.

Igotopia’s OTA platform will be powered by VR tours focusing on customised luxury travel experiences at distinguished resorts and hotels across the world.

The platform aims to offer a user-centric experience by driving a wholly innovative user interface and user experience design navigation front-end, revolutionising the way people book hotels.

The experience hinges on immersion and expression in location discovery via aerial, interior and underwater VR with interactive comparisons of hotel properties and facilities via the VR360 tours.

MDEC said as the effects of the pandemic begin to wane, Igoroom will initially pivot on staycation packages for local travellers and “buy now stay later” for international travel to capitalise on pent-up demand.

“As governments lay out their plans for new economic stimuli in tourism, Igoroom and Gecko Digital will be uniquely poised to capitalise on ‘staycation’ and ‘buy now stay later’ incentives in regions that are already experiencing high demand once travel corridors begin to ease between affluent source markets and upscale destinations,” it said.

Investors of the concept include film producer and Les’ Copaque Production Sdn Bhd owner and MD Burhanuddin Md Radzi, Crowe Malaysia managing partner Poon Yew Hoe and Unilever Malaysia and Singapore CFO Joost Folkers.

Igotopia has also put together a solid management team and advisory board, consisting of CEO James South, CCO Matthew Barsing, CMO Daniel Hofinger and COO Shaun Bicheno.

The panel of advisors include hospitality and travel industries veteran Michael Flynn, Burhanuddin, Matryzel Consulting founder Bobby Varanasi, Folkers, Poon and Vynn Capital Sdn Bhd chartered financial analyst Victor Chua.