If you wanted to book a flight or plan your holiday back in the 1990s, it might have entailed a visit to the local travel agent. It would have taken you a couple of days to merely confirm your ticket and get everything in order. Those days are long gone.
Today, thanks to the rise of digital travel services, travelers can book their flights and hotels in a split second, search online reviews on their mobile to choose the best options, and an entire tour can be planned with a few taps of the finger.
This is the golden age of travel. Traveling today is more affordable, accessible, and convenient than ever before.
With the rise of incredible consumer demand for digital travel services, the travel industry has been at the forefront of digital innovation. Technology has left no segment of the travel ecosystem untouched. Today, an ever-growing number of people book hotels, flight tickets, and car rentals online.
Online travel agencies have experienced phenomenal growth. Today, global OTA platforms such as Expedia and Bookings dominate a significant percentage of travel booking. Research platform Statista projects, the global revenue of travel apps is expected to reach nearly $400 million in 2023.
Aside from online bookings, people are increasingly relying on online reviews for choosing travel destinations, accommodations, and restaurants.
Interest in online travel tips and comments has grown to the extent that Statista named Tripadvisor, a travel community and review site, as one of the most visited travel and tourism websites worldwide in 2023.
All in all, travel has moved digital. Travelers across markets are increasingly looking for convenience, which has further accelerated the digitization of travel services.
However, Bangladesh is still lagging when it comes to the digitization of travel. While travel has seen phenomenal growth in Bangladesh over the last decade, online travel service is still in its early days in the country. Several estimates put the online travel market at some 5% of the entire travel market in the country.
To that end, building awareness about and trust in online travel services is critical for the growth of the industry in Bangladesh.
Dhaka-based travel-tech startup GoZayaan has been playing a pioneering role in introducing technology and innovation to make travel convenient and accessible in Bangladesh. The company has consistently maintained that it wants to empower travelers and provide them with freedom and the convenience of planning their travel at their own pace and preference. To support this ambition, it has built an ecosystem of travel services over the years and continues to surprise users with new services.
In this article, we highlight a number of recent innovations and features of GoZayaan including an option to pay in cash for tickets and an overhaul of the booking experience in its popular app.
GoZayaan has recently introduced a “Pay in Cash” feature for its customers who now can book travel services online and pay in cash instead of paying online.
One major challenge to the digitization of the tourism industry of Bangladesh is that customers often don’t trust e-commerce services. Many are still skeptical about spending large sums of money online. Moreover, a general distrust regarding online payments is still prevalent.
GoZayaan recognizes this challenge.
GoZayaan aims to digitize travel in Bangladesh, as mentioned earlier. The company wants to encourage more people to take online travel services. But that is not possible unless more people trust online services and are willing to pay digitally.
In the current market landscape, the skepticism of customers is unlikely to change without evidence that online is trustworthy.
To address the challenge, GoZayaan has decided to take the long road to change cultural rigidity by introducing cash as a payment option. The feature is simple.
With the “Pay in Cash” option, customers can now book flights and hotels on the GoZayaan platform, and choose Cash payment as an option in the checkout. An agent will arrive at the customer’s given address within 24 hours and the customer will be able to pay for the purchase in cash directly to the agent.
The service will help the company achieve two goals. It will encourage more people to buy travel services online because they now can pay in cash for bookings and get confirmation of their e-ticket. At the same time, it will gradually improve trust in online travel platforms and change customer behavior to adopt digital booking.
Cash on delivery is a hugely popular payment method in Bangladesh. According to industry insiders, over 70% of e-commerce payments take place via cash on delivery method. However, this was not a common option in online travel service platforms. Online travel services platforms always required digital payment at the time of checkout. With GoZayaan launching a new payment method, this has changed. The move will certainly encourage more people to go online for travel services.
The second major change GoZayaan introduced recently is that the company has completely revamped its entire online hotel booking experience.
With 700,000 local and international hotels, GoZayaan offers one of the largest hotel inventories on any online travel platform in Bangladesh. The company has modernized the entire user journey for hotel booking.
Some of the major improvements include an upgraded search function. Users can now search hotels based on their needs and stay types such as couples, business travelers, families, solo, etc. Several other precise filtering options have been added to improve the search experience.
Labels have been added to further improve filters. Customers can see hotels with labels such as budget-friendly and popular along with available discount percentages. Accompanying ratings makes it easier for users to understand the previous guest rating for each hotel.
The discounts are clearly communicated and refund policies are mentioned. The house rules are clearly stated so any unpleasant inconveniences can be avoided at the venue.
Room availability, whether enough rooms are available or rooms are running low, is shown in real-time, making the decision process further easier for travelers.
The company expects the improvements in the hotel booking experience on the platform will contribute to the increase in online hotel bookings in the coming days.
Over the years, GoZayaan has built cultural dynamism that relentlessly pushes for innovation and improvement. The company obsesses over customer experience. Seeks to routinely outdo itself.
These are what we call lasting moats. Moats are what give a company strategic defensibility in a competitive environment.
Moats are incredibly important for building lasting businesses. As Warren Buffet famously said, “The most important thing to me is figuring out how big a moat there is around the business. What I love, of course, is a big castle and a big moat with piranhas and crocodiles.”
However, in a constantly changing world and highly competitive environment, no innovation lasts long. Your competitors will eventually catch up with you.
What is almost impossible to beat is a deep understanding of the market, cultural dynamism, and willingness to push relentlessly to improve customer experience.
GoZayaan has been consistently pushing for innovations and experiments to improve the user experience since its inception. This has served the company well.
The company has developed a system to speak regularly with customers and understand their pain points. Based on these observations, user experience is designed and improved regularly. New features such as infinity scrolling, modified payment journey, etc are introduced to build a smoother user journey. This indicates the company cares and is willing to go out of its way to build for its users.