UGuide, a platform connecting tour guides and agencies, announced that it has raised RMB 10 million (USD 1.56 million) from Shanghai Gongke IoT Technology in an angel round of financing. The funds will be used to upgrade products and promote marketing plans.
UGuide’s business model is similar to that of Uber – tour operators post prices and requirements on the platform, while guides will offer to handle the operation and wait to be selected by the agency.
Travel agencies and tour guides will settle accounts on the platform and establish an evaluation system based on previous cooperation.
At present, there are about 800,000 licensed tour guides in China, only about 20% of them are contracted by travel agencies. Since the National Tourism Administration has allowed freelance tour guides to work without being appointed by travel agencies in 2016, the number of guide licence applicants and self-employed practitioners has surged, along with the number of emerging online C2C tour guide platforms.
However, the development of the online C2C guide market is relatively slow and the group tour market is still dominated by travel agencies due to uncertain factors, credit security issues, user habits and others.
UGuide hopes to address the imbalance between the supply and demand of C2C guides. It will improve the transaction efficiency with instant order release and response, solve the payment credit problems with deposit commissions, and avoid moral risks with the evaluation system.
Currently, UGuide only targets inbound tourism, and has registered more than 80 travel agencies in Shanghai and 600+ tour guides, recording over 1,500 orders and 1 million total GMV.
After the capital infusion, it plans to strengthen its foothold in Eastern China and carry out nationwide promotion to achieve profitability.
In addition, UGuide is considering to remove tour operators from its operation and serve individual customer directly by acquiring customers through international social media.