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The Tripping Story: Conversation With Samia Rashid

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Jan 10, 2016

Tripping is one of the few travel-tech startups that launched last year in Dhaka and caught our eyes. The platform has received quite good response from the market since it launched later in 2015.

Tourism is an interesting sector. Although, Bangladesh's position in the global tourism competitiveness index is dismal at best but the sector has been seeing a steady growth in recent years. Moreover, Bangladesh Government has just announced 2016 as the year of tourism riding the hope up for a different scenario for the sector.

Recently, we had a chance to speak with Samia Rashid, co-founder and Managing Director of Tripping about early days of Tripping, challenges of building a travel startup, future plan and more. Before Tripping, she founded two Startups - Tulimati, an online handicraft store and Saira, an online Boutique. Samia is travel savvy herself with personal experience of traveling across the globe.

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Omar: Take us a little back, when and how did you get started?
Samia: We started conceptualizing the idea of Tripping as an online travel portal from April 2015. It took us more than 5 months to put together the product, find investors and reach out to early users. Finally, we launched the website on November 27, 2015.

Omar: Startups are all about solving problems. If the problem you are solving is big enough, your company gets big. What problem Tripping is trying to solve and what is the core idea?
Samia: One of our co-founders has 30 years of experiences in tourism industry and we, as a team, are a bunch of frequent travelers. We love travelling and we know ins and outs of the problems most travelers/tourists face in Bangladesh.

Click on image for more
Click on image for more

One of the problems, of very basic ones, is that we don’t have a go to portal for travel information in Bangladesh. It is hard to get information about almost everything. Apart from this, there are about 3000 tour operators in Bangladesh providing inbound and outbound tour packages and services but you will not be able to compare among packages and choose the one best for you. Because these information are not available.

In majority of instances, people had to suffer because they don’t fully comprehend how their tour packages work given the fact that transparency is something you should not expect here and people often had to pay extra because they don’t exactly know about the details of the packages and there are often hidden costs involved.

Travelers usually ask friends and family who already traveled for suggestions and then communicate with travel agents and design tour packages accordingly. Things often get very intricate and costly, whereas travelling or planning a trip should be an entertaining thing.

This is where Tripping comes in. We want to make life easy for tourists and we are building a platform that will help tourists to get things done easily.

One of the problems, of very basic ones, is that we don’t have a go to portal for travel information in Bangladesh. It is hard to get information about almost everything. Apart from this, there are about 3000 tour operators in Bangladesh providing inbound and outbound tour packages and services but you will not be able to compare among packages and choose the one best for you. Because these information are not available.

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Tripping
Tripping

Omar: How do you plan to achieve that?
Samia: We have travel consultants. Our operation team will assist you to make best travel plan. Along with that, we are partnering with the best tour operators in the country who have proven track record in terms of promise and delivery in order to deliver services through certified agents.

Tripping consultants will collect and compile detail information about tour packages of different operators and then upload on our web-portal. People can compare and select the best options and take out help to execute them.

Tripping allows people to customize their trip as well. One can go to our online platform, fill-up customize form and then get customized tour packages. Our travel consultants collects all the packages available, prepare 5 to 7 options and email it to the clients. Then clients select the best deal for them. This helps one to make better decision and plan well while reducing travel related hassles significantly. For now, our services are for free and we connect clients with operator [s] of their choosing.

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Omar: It is difficult to make any serious comment about your growth right now since you just launched a month ago. However, start-ups are all about growth, would you please give a bit about growth?
Samia: The response from the market has been great so far. In the first month, the target was to put our services in-front of our peer group and corporate users in order to get feedback so that we could improve the product. It went great. We got real feedback and we are working on it.

We have an agreement with Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) now and talked to couple of corporates. In-terms of serving tour packages, we have served over 50 clients in our first month of operation.

Tripping allows people to customize their trip as well. One can go to our online platform, fill-up customize form and then get customized tour packages. Our travel consultants collects all the packages available, prepare 5 to 7 options and email it to the clients. Then clients select the best deal for them.

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Omar: Briefly tell us about funding, how did you manage your initial capital?
Samia: We started with fund from our own pockets along with a small investment from two angel investors.

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Omar: While it is critical to have a good idea but a great team often dictates the success of a start-up. How big is your team now?
Samia: Right now, we are a team of 15 full-time and 3 part-time members. Team distribution usually works like this: business development, collaboration with agents and operators, and travel consultants.

Moreover, we have a call center in place and few of our teammates look after the call center. They verify each query with customers and pass the lead to the operators. We are 3 co-founders overseeing the whole operations and business.

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Omar: Briefly tell us about challenges and problems you are facing.
Samia: It seems Bangladesh’s tourism market is not ready yet for online travel booking. While it makes life easy for users/tourists, it is difficult to convince operators to disclose their tour packages online. That’s a big challenge.

On the other hand, when you go online as a travel-tech startup, you get to maintain both online and offline operations which increase your cost as a business. Now, we need to manage a call center as well.

However, this is an interesting sector and growing fast as well. Over the time things are going to be different. We will see more players like Vromon.com and Jovago in the space.

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It seems Bangladesh’s tourism market is not ready yet for online travel booking. While it makes life easy for users/tourists, it is difficult to convince operators to disclose their tour packages online. That’s a big challenge.

Tripping 01
Tripping

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Omar: What is your future plan?
Samia: We want to expand our business globally. In 2016, we are planning to open our operations in Australia and aim to pick the outbound tour packages from Australia. Top of that, we are about to launch hotel booking service.

Note: Images by Tripping


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Omar looks after Community and Business Development at Future Startup.

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