Homegrown app Happy Hotels takes on Agoda, Airbnb

Jessica fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 31 2023 05:13 PM

MANILA - Filipino-owned travel booking app Happy Hotels, which was officially launched on Friday, aims to compete with global players in the tourism industry by banking on its expertise in local festivities and catering to traveler needs depending on their budgets.

With the app, local and foreign travelers can book hotels, bed and breakfast establishments and dormitels in as fast as one minute, the company said.

When asked how it differs from other apps in the market, its founder and CEO Jason Lao said the platform understands the entire ecosystem including needs of both travelers and business owners. Lao has 25-years of experience in the service industry.

To attract more foreign and local tourists, the app has a "Calendar of Events" that details upcoming fiestas and festivities all over the country to help users plan their trips.

It also has a "Near Me" section that provides information on accommodations near the users.

"We want this to be a premier app for Philippine tourism and of course, we want to compete with global players. In a way, lamang tayo because we are here in the Philippines, and we are Filipinos. We know the heart of the Filipinos," Lao said.

"We have a feature called the calendar of events. There are so many cultural things in the Philippines, every town has a fiesta. It’s part of our culture talaga. So we created that to educate the people which part of the Philippines it’s happening and when," he added.

Happy Hotels app was conceptualized by Lao when he witnessed how local tourism players suffered during the pandemic. He said the app is also meant to help business owners expand their reach, and provide jobs for those in the tourism industry. 

"Our goal at Happy Hotels is to empower local business owners and their workforce by providing them with a platform to expand their market and reach more customers. We are dedicated to understanding the needs of the local market and offer a variety of accommodations that cater to various preferences and financial capabilities," he said. 

"Filipinos tayo di ba, we should be the expert in the Philippines. We want to boost the local tourism industry. The more hotels we empower, the more people they will hire," he added.

To date, the app now offers accommodations in popular spots including Boracay, Siargao, Tagaytay, Metro Manila and Cebu with over 100 partner properties. It plans to expand to more areas, officials said. Happy Hotels said it plans to partner with 500 hotels, dormitels and BNBs every year.

Happy Hotels CEO Jason Lao with app ambassador Fabio Ide and Cheche Perez, Head of Business and Sales. Tagaytay City, March 31, 2023. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News
Happy Hotels CEO Jason Lao with app ambassador Fabio Ide and Cheche Perez, Head of Business and Sales. Tagaytay City, March 31, 2023. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Lao said its charitable arm also makes the app different from the rest. At least 5 to 10 percent of users' booking fees would go to one of the platform's partner non-profit institutions, he said.

Happy Hotels said partnered with UnionBank to facilitate its payment options.

Lao said more services would be offered soon to make it an all-in-one travel platform.


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