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Bangladesh’s Leading Online Travel Agency Aims Higher: An Interview With Flight Expert CEO Salman Bin Rashid Shah Sayeem

Feb 2, 2019

Propelled by rising incomes and a growing appetite for exploration, outbound travel is on the rise in Bangladesh. An increasing number of Bangladeshis are now traveling abroad and spending generously. In 2014, some 1.5 million Bangladeshis visited abroad, according to data from the Bangladesh Bank, National Board of Revenue and Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies. Outbound travel spending rose from $404.7 million in FY15 to $436.4 million in FY16, a 7.83 percent rise from the previous year. It shows a sign of the rise of a new middle and upper class in the country. These numbers are set to rise significantly in the coming years.

Flight Expert, one of the earliest online travel agencies in the country, has maintained a strong leadership position through investments in customer service and technology. It helps travelers with everything from flights and hotel bookings to planning tour. It also launched a B2B platform Flight Expert Agents, which has seen a steady growth in last one year.

Although OTA is a relatively recent phenomenon in Bangladesh, the number of OTAs has increased in Dhaka in the last few years. The total number of OTAs, of all sizes, are now somewhere north of 50 in the country. According to industry insiders, OTAs now control about 4-6% of the total travel market. The competition has also intensified.

For last two years, Salman and his team at Flight Expert have worked hard to build a strong brand in the market, invested heavily in customer experience and in building lasting relationships with customers and in establishing a strong internal organizational structure and process. The move has paid off. Flight Expert has experienced sustainable growth last year.

Flight Expert CEO Salman Bin Rashid Shah Sayeem sat down with Future Startup Co-founder Ruhul Kader to discuss Flight Experts business, its growth strategy, how it has been investing in building a strong organization, its growing B2B business, the state of online travel agency business in Bangladesh and much more.

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