Book hotel rooms, travel by virtual reality

by NUR HAZIQAH IN MALEK / graphic by MZUKRI MOHAMAD

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

Vice President Gopi Ganesalingam, MDEC’s technology ecosystem and globalization, said public-private initiatives will be crucial to achieving the goals of Malaysia’s Digital Economy Plan and Malaysia 5.0.

“MDEC will continue to collaborate with platforms like pitchIN to facilitate and manage alternative funding to ensure the catalysis and growth of our initial ecosystem and grow our own unicorns,” it said in a statement yesterday.

Since last year, MDEC has facilitated the financing of RM 48.3 million for 26 local companies through a participatory financing platform, which is expected to be an important route for companies in these uncertain moments.

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

“Igotopia provides a valuable solution to the affected tourism industry.

“It is creating a new experience in online booking and based in Malaysia, we look forward to rapid global expansion,” he said.

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

To date, it has raised 5.9 million euros in crowdfunding, which will eventually exceed 8.2 million euros.

Igotopia’s OTA platform will be powered by VR tours conducted in personalized luxury travel experiences in distinguished resorts and hotels around the world.

The platform aims to deliver a user-centric experience through a completely innovative user interface and a user-friendly design navigation interface revolutionizing the way hotels are booked.

The experience depends on immersion and expression in location discovery through aerial, indoor and underwater VR with interactive comparisons of hotel properties and facilities using VR360 tours.

MDEC said that as the effects of the pandemic begin to wane, Igoroom will initially pivot on local travel accommodation packages and “buy buy accommodation later” for international travel to capitalize on accumulated demand.

“As governments present their plans for new economic stimuli in tourism, Igoroom and Gecko Digital will be on the verge of capitalizing on‘ staycation ’and‘ buy now, stay later ’incentives in regions already experiencing a great demand once travel brokers begin to facilitate themselves between affluent markets of origin and exclusive destinations, ”he said.

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

Igotopia has also brought together a strong management team and advisory board, made up of CEO James South, corporate CEO Matthew Barsing, CMO Daniel Hofinger and office manager Shaun Bicheno.

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



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