Travel is a US$7 trillion industry globally. According to some sources, some 350,000 Bangladeshis travel daily. 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.
We are seeing an increased number of activities in the travel tech space in Dhaka over the last few years. We have seen a handful of OTAs start operations in Dhaka. The total number of OTAs, of all sizes, is now somewhere north of 50 in the country.
According to industry insiders, OTAs now control about 4-6% of the total travel market in Bangladesh. Small-scale funding rounds are also happening in the space. Last year, TBBD raised an undisclosed amount of investment. Flight Expert is also eyeing raising investment this year. Companies like Haltrip are quickly expanding, even beyond our geographic boundaries. With the growing potential, we are hoping to see more activities in the travel tech space in the coming days.
Future Startup has been following closely the traveltech startups in Bangladesh throughout 2018 and here are some of the new generation traveltech startups in Bangladesh that we believe you should keep an eye on in 2019. Please note that this not a ranking, rather merely a list of companies we deem important. The position in the list does not attribute anything. On to the list.
Flight Expert is one of the earliest traveltech startups in Bangladesh. Launched mid-2017, it has maintained a strong leadership position through investments in customer service and technology. Flight Expert helps travelers with everything from flights and hotel bookings to planning tours.
It also launched a B2B platform Flight Expert Agents, which has seen steady growth in the last year. It has expanded outside Dhaka to Chittagong and Sylhet. From what began as a modest operation of a three people team, Flight Expert is now a team of over 48 people and enjoys widespread brand awareness in the market.
Established in 2014, travelbookingbd.com claims to be the first ever online portal for airline ticket and hotel booking based in Bangladesh. Founded by Kashef Rahman as a side project, today TBBD is one of the highest valued travel-tech startups in Dhaka.
TBBD specializes in exclusive travel services for independent travelers, families as well as corporate groups. Travel Booking BD caters to all types of travel needs of its customers - from planning tours, estimating costs, providing hotel suggestions, bookings, transport options, and tourism information, to planning guided tours for sightseeing, shopping and so on!
In an interview with Future Startup, published in April 2018, Kashef Rahman, Founder, and CEO, of TBBD shares how he started TBBD as a small side project:
“I have been travel buff throughout my life. I got married in 2007 and after that, it became more frequent. I used to travel a lot with my wife. Even when we were short of money, we still made two big trips a year. People took notice of it and many of my colleagues and friends would come to me for help with their travel itinerary. I loved doing that. I was doing it all for free. Soon it became a huge pressure. Making a travel itinerary is a time-consuming affair. It was taking up a lot of my time.
That’s when the thought came to me that probably I could try this as a business. The next thing I did was opening up a Facebook page and experiment. When someone asked, I would tell them that it was my company. I bought a separate mobile number, since I couldn’t use the company number, and started working on it on the side. My first customers were some of my colleagues from Banglalink who were aware of my traveling habit. I created packages for them. Gradually, I started receiving more and more requests from people.
In the first month, I managed to earn the amount of about 4 tickets to Bangkok. Then I created a couple of packages, I created a Google Doc and promoted it on Facebook. This was completely new at that time. No one did that. I got around 400 to 500 queries. I was floored.
I took 2 days off from work and answered all the queries. Out of 400 people, 40-45 of them confirmed their booking and I realized the serious potential of this and decided to take a risk. This was 2014. After much thought, I decided to I leave my job. I took a small office of 400 sq ft and hired 03 people to help me in the process. That’s how we started.
Today, we’re a team of 35 people. We have a separate technology team. We’re probably the only travel booking agency in Bangladesh that has their own tech team. Today, we are a one-stop solution for all travel related services in Bangladesh.”
Haltrip is one of the leading B2B travel agencies in Bangladesh. The startup says it aggregate competitive prices from more than 300+ Full-Service Carrier and 150+ Low-Cost Carrier airlines, covering over 21+ countries and regions and its automated travel management system offers the world's largest travel inventory.
Founded in 2017 by Tajbir Hasan, Haltrip offers three products: Haltrip Agents, Haltrip franchise, and Haltrip one platform. Hal Trip Solutions Air Ticketing solutions to travel agencies and claims that it offers the best competitive price by fetching 40 million global data points by combining the operators of multiple GDSs. It provides API and complete search engines to support a fully automated process including searching, pricing, booking, order generating, automatic ticketing and confirmation. Haltrip claims that it is selling to travel agencies in over 20+ countries and regions around the world. The startup says it is serving over 2000 travel agents in Bangladesh and is growing every day.
Founded in 2017, Go Zayaan is one of the fast-growing travel-tech companies based in Dhaka. Over the past one and a half years, it has managed to build widespread brand awareness in the market.
Go Zayaan aims to become the one-stop online travel solution platform for travelers worldwide. It offers flights and hotels booking along with holiday packages. It also claims to bring special deals from hotels and airlines for its users. Travelers can pay their air tickets and hotel bookings in Bangladeshi Taka, escaping the trap of dollar endorsement, credit card, and other limitations and pay via bKash among other options.
Community tourism startup Avijatrik can be called Airbnb of Bangladesh. Established in 2015 with an ambition to promote local travel experiences in Bangladesh, Avijatrik provides adventurous holiday experiences in different parts of Bangladesh. Besides, providing traditional tourism services it also provides community-based tourism services in Bangladesh, where it collaborates with the local community, allowing travelers a chance to stay with the local community, experience new culture, and lifestyle. Avijatrik says it has over 2000 suppliers on its platform. Avijatrik is a graduate of Grameenphone Accelerator program.
Founded in 2015, Vromon is a premium online travel agency in Bangladesh where travelers can book hotels, buy tickets and tour packages as well as travelers can share their reviews & travel experiences online. Vromon originally started with offering ticket and hotel booking within Bangladesh. Today, the startup covers both local and international ticketing and hotel booking as well as offers tour packages.
Amarroom.com has consistently aspired to be a reliable and approachable tour operator that makes good on its promises, something which has been lauded by customers and industry experts alike, writes the company in its introduction. The domestic tourism-focused OTA startup has pushed its services significantly throughout 2018. To attract customers, it has introduced clever strategies such as Book Now, Pay Later and it claims to be the most reliable online hotel booking platform in Bangladesh.
Users can avail Amarroom services through its website, mobile applications and other associated platforms such as social media. It mainly allows leisure and business travelers to explore, research, compare prices and book a wide range of services catering to their travel needs.
Founded in 2015, it offers a comprehensive range of travel-related services, including domestic and international air ticketing, hotel bookings, holiday packages, activities, and ancillary services.
Cover photo: Photo by Mesut Kaya on Unsplash