“The app uses artificial intelligence to show relevant offers based on the location and preferences of the user. You gather information about the city and in four steps, you decide on plans that fit in your schedule that day,” says Bhupinder Singh, CEO of the startup Peliqan.ai. The app is only available in Amsterdam, but may soon cover a wide variety of European capitals.
Bhupinder, how would you describe Peliqan.ai in one sentence?
“An all-in-one city guide that provides anything you could possibly want to know about Amsterdam and allows you to instantly book your preferred activity. It also takes local residents into consideration.”
What trends have you noticed in the tourism sector?
“I have noticed traveling costs have been declining; people used to go on holiday once a year, but nowadays this can be multiple times a year —sometimes just for a weekend. Also, there is an abundance of tourism information available, which people have to find their way through all by themselves.”
How does Peliqan.ai capitalize on these trends?
“In Amsterdam, there is increasingly more friction between the tourists in the center of the city and the local residents. This is disappointing because tourism can also offer these very residents certain benefits. We want to mediate between tourists and residents, making sure the citizens of Amsterdam benefit from tourism. This approach has provided us with enthusiastic promotional partners.”
How does the app work?
“We utilize data given to us by tourists and various external sources of data. City data gives information on the city. Through linkage, we can ascertain the number of people in museums and restaurants, and Google Maps shows us how busy the city is. The image this gives us is then compared to situation data given to us by tourists. Situation data consists of data such as their location or what the weather is like. The result of all this information is a relevant bundle of offers.”
Could you give some examples?
“If you’re looking for a Chinese restaurant, the app will show you the second-best restaurant only three hundred meters away, instead of the best restaurant three kilometers down the road. Or on a sunny weekend afternoon, we show you different available outdoor activities or nice, not too busy, places for a drink at a café.”
How has your participation in the Accenture Innovation Awards benefited you?
“Being around many different ideas makes you evaluate your own value proposition, forces you to improve and, most importantly, inspires you to do better. Also, participation has greatly expanded our network.”
How did Peliqan.ai originate?
“I have always been both attracted and amazed by tourism; as a student in Amsterdam it was practically impossible to ride my bicycle through the city because of the crowds. Local companies spend almost 60 million euros on marketing through Google and Facebook every year. Tourists spend almost 21 billion euros in the Netherlands each year. All these numbers and my own experiences resulted in Peliqan.ai.”
How do you help local companies?
“A local company can sign up for our platform. In return, we take care of part of the marketing efforts. They can also sign up as an affiliate partner. This provides you with a personal link (e.g., peliqan.ai/bob), your own spot on our website —and a unique code to share. Everything tourists buy through that code gives partners 50% of the profits. This makes it easy for any Amsterdam resident to make money.”
Can you name some partners?
“All the big attractions and museums have joined as ticket partners. We also have small suppliers, such as bicycle rental companies, tour guides, and baggage drop-off facilitators. They offer their products on our platform. Then there are the promotional partners: Airbnb key exchange companies, hotels, and transportation companies. Some other partners are: Holland Ticket Services, Hotel Arena, SO Connect, RAI Amsterdam, and Bnbmanager.”
What is your greatest challenge?
“The customer lifetime value of a city hopper is three days at most. In a short period of time you must find a way to present your product. If we want to have a large reach, we need to make sure our distribution channels are in tip-top condition. A simple click-per-cost model through digital marketing does no longer suffice in this sector. The distribution channels are our biggest challenge.”
What are your plans for the near future?
“We are focused on expanding our reach. At the moment, we reach 20,000 tourists each day. We are also planning on expanding our b2c-platform, applying better marketing, and we are determined to offer bundles in the near future. We can currently offer a lot, but we want to involve the locals even more and make sure they benefit from the increasing number of tourists.”
What is your golden advice for participants in the AIA18?
“Network. The immediate effect isn’t that great and is therefore underestimated. But meeting somebody can help you get introduced to more people. Almost all our large partners are connected to us through a third person. So, networking is really beneficial.”