While markets are in different stages of travel recovery, we are already seeing a hint of the post-pandemic future of travel. Slowly travel is returning to its old glory. Naturally, after months of shutdown, travel craving is a real thing. In many markets, while international travel is still limited, local travel has returned to almost its pre-pandemic level.
Travel-tech startup Go Zayaan seeks to seize the opportunity. The company has recently closed its seed round investment and now plans to take travel to a larger number of people as it prepares for accelerated growth.
Global travel is an $8.3 trillion industry. In Bangladesh, it is estimated to be a $5.3 billion industry. In 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic engulfed the world, the entire industry came to a halt. The world mostly stopped traveling. The industry had to take a back seat and wait for restrictions to ease.
In Bangladesh, industry insiders reported a more than 50% drop in business.
Hotels had to shut down. Travel companies had scarcely been operational. Many travel companies had to lay off. Others had to significantly reduce operations. Last year, TOAB predicted a 30% job loss in the sector.
Things, however, have started to turn for the better in the last few months. Bangladesh lifted the lockdown in August. With the help of vaccination and other measures, many countries across the world have started to ease COVID-19 restrictions making way for people to travel.
Local travel has rebounded in Bangladesh in the last few months as the country eases lockdown and expands vaccination. Many popular tourist destinations in the country are experiencing an influx of tourists comparable to pre-pandemic times. Go Zayaan, one of the fast-growing online travel platforms in Dhaka, has been working hard to take advantage of the emerging trend of the growing appetite for local travel.
The company says it is going full throttle in domestic travel and aims to make travel accessible to everyone by offering an excellent online experience and great deals.
For instance, Go Zayaan has introduced an omnichannel travel booking solution. Customers can make reservations at any time, from anywhere via the website, hotline, and messenger. Since Go Zayaan maintains the same process for booking flights, hotels, and tours, you just simply go to its website, choose your preferred mode of travel, compare prices and book the most convenient option for you.
Customers, who are not comfortable digitally and prefer to speak with human agents, can call Go Zayaan customer agents and book over the phone and are provided with a payment link where they can sign up and complete the payment. The company says the service helps improve customer trust and convert offline users to online.
Go Zayaan has built a superior technology solution. The service is fast and reliable. The website is highly optimized and returns results within 15-20 seconds. The user-friendly UI eliminates confusion. The search and filter option help find your desired information effortlessly. Hotel listing comes with detailed information about the amenities and policies of each hotel. The company says it will soon add interactive maps and videos to hotel details.
Throughout the pandemic, Go Zayaan focused on domestic tourism, partnered with local airlines, hundreds of hotels, and tour operators that had no presence in the digital space. Today, it has built an excellent inventory of domestic hotels and resorts of all ranges from all across Bangladesh.
The company routinely runs campaigns in partnership with banks and MFS companies. Last year, it launched Go Zayaan Travel Loan in partnership with IPDC.
In a nutshell, Go Zayaan is building a one-stop solution for travelers and travel enthusiasts.
Travel services are often a poor experience in Bangladesh. Travelers face rampant challenges. For example, booking through offline agents is expensive. Customers must spend considerable time communicating preferences, approving itineraries, and more. For corporate travelers, the process is even more time-consuming.
The entire process is opaque. Travelers often end up paying more for the same service.
Online travel services are certainly a better alternative. But OTAs have a long road ahead. Online travel services penetration is in single digit.
Go Zayaan says it aims to change that. Founded in 2017, the company has gained popularity and trust with travelers within a short time. It offers a host of travel services including domestic and international flight and hotel booking, premium visa processing services, local and international tour packages, and round-the-clock customer support.
Last month, the company raised US$2.6 million in a seed round investment. With the fresh capital, Go Zayaan plans to bring more travel services online. It aims to develop the travel infrastructure, make travel booking easier, and revolutionize the travel industry in Bangladesh.
Over the last decade, from a niche trend, travel has gone mainstream in Bangladesh. An ever-growing number of Bangladeshis now travel locally and abroad. The size of the travel industry was reported at $5.3 billion in 2017. Local travelers contribute approximately 98 percent of that revenue. The industry is expected to grow by 6.8 percent annually to $7 billion by 2023. It indicates the rise of a new middle-class in the country who are willing to spend on travel and exploration.
To that end, online travel services have a huge potential. With less than 5% of travel bookings being done online, the market is massively underpenetrated.
Go Zayaan aims to bridge this gap by bringing accommodations and other travel services online and making those easily accessible to everyone. The timing could not have been better for Go Zayaan. With a growing interest in travel, the dynamics of the industry have been changing. A growing number of urban travelers now use online travel services to book flights to hotels to find relevant information. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated digital service adoption.
In many markets, travel today is predominantly an online thing. For example, in India, MakeMyTrip and other online travel platforms wield excessive power on the traveling choice of customers. The same is going to happen in Bangladesh.
As the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, Go Zayaan sees an excellent opportunity to build a regional travel company out of Bangladesh. And at the same time, make travel accessible to an ever-larger group of people.