Salman Bin Rashid Shah Sayeem is the founder and CEO of Bangladesh’s first travel-tech startup. With his effort and compassion toward business, he led the OTA business towards completion of first step in our country. MBR had a session with him where he opened on the current business environment and future full with promises.
It all started for Flight Expert from ‘Makkah Group’ which is one of the prominent agencies for international traveling services. The main concern of the company was translating traditional business to digital mode in air ticket reservation and hotel booking. When Mr. Salman was studying in Canada, he used to come to Bangladesh time to time and visit his family. During one of his visits to Bangladesh, his father showed his concern about the growth travel industry at a slow pace although the customer base expanded significantly. That’s when he came up with the idea of tech-based travel solutions, in the name
of “Flight Expert”, being influenced by the other traveltech companies- “Cheapoair”, “Expedia”. After completing the first level of Chartered Accountancy, he returned to Bangladesh and started working on the idea of first travel tech-company in 2016.
Flight Expert offers both B2C and B2B solutions right now having mobile application for both Android and iPhone. While air ticketing is a popular mode in B2C arena, B2B operation is carried out through TBO holidays which conducts hotel bookings and dynamic packages. ‘Flight Expert Agent’ which is another website maintained by Flight Expert where air tickets are sold internationally instantly.
Flight Expert zeroes in on service quality rather than price competitiveness. In their 2 years of experience in this industry, they realized that people demand convenience when they purchase air tickets or makes hotel bookings online. Customers would definitely like to get better service within a reasonable price range. Therefore, their current business strategy is only concentrating on building a satisfied customer base with their service. Flight Expert collects hotel through TBOholidays and online tickets through Amadeus, which is a source of all global suppliers, at a lower rate and the offers are available in their portal. Their revenue streams from commission on the services. The online payment is powered by SSL COMMERZ, which is available in all platforms as a payment option. Flight Expert become the TOP 10 merchant in online space regarding online payment receiver.
The ticketing service has a price differentiation strategy which allows selling ticket at different price in different batch. It means early batch of tickets have the lowest price and the last few tickets have a higher price level. This is a worldwide process which requires restating the price at real time. Flight Expert website allows customer to have the real time price information.
Both the App and the website are outsourced. The website is the primary tool for Flight Expert. Though the app has been launched but still there is a huge room for improvement in the app. The Online Travel Agent (OTA) business is all about variations and the app should be suitable to the various nature and support to promote superior user experience.
Flight Expert held different campaigns VISA, SCB, City Bank AMEX etc. as their promotion effort where they gave discounts to attract customer. Besides, it did online marketing through social media and offline marketing through print media. However, the most effective method of marketing for Flight Expert is words of mouth which influenced their customer base.
Founder & CEO, Flight Expart
Traveling is a growing sector in Bangladesh, ascribing to changing lifestyle of people. Also, millennials are now more travel-oriented than ever. Very few active traveltechs are actually in the field. Go Zayaan, haltip, TBBD, Amy and FlightExpert are providing traveling solutions all over Bangladesh. Also, some other new local OTAs started their operating in Bangladesh and may help the market grow together.
Demand of travel-tech is increasing exponentially. At the very beginning of the business ‘Flight Expert’ had to wait for eleven days to sell their first ticket online. The sales was increased by 20 times than that of last year. Those were milestones for ‘Flight Expert’. As the market has become much bigger, the vision of the company has become greater.
As most of the startups are still in small-scale operation, they are targeting different segments of the travel industry. However, ultimately when these companies will be scalable, they will integrate to each other to survive in the market.
A completely new area of business: OTA business is going forward with a trial and error in their operation as having the proper data to analyze the market and business are the challenges in this sector. The total sector is running on new ideas, which made it really difficult for the industry players to have a smooth operation flow.
Outward Remittance: Another hurdle which is very troublesome for OTA business is that, Bangladesh is not favorable to send outward remittance. This is really a concern for OTA industry, because the process to complete the remittance transfer process is really long and time consuming. It will be beneficial for the OTA business if the companies are allowed to process outward remittance with an easier and efficient process.
Flight Expert is now focusing on research to understand the market better, because there is no solid data or statistics on this sector’s movements. This is very crucial to understand the trend of online traveling business. As OTA is at a nascent stage of development, proper Research and Development is inevitable at this moment.
“The asset quality is deteriorating in the highly fragment banking system.”- the remark came on the recently published Moody’s outlook for Bangladesh banking system. Despite being a robust economy, Bangladesh is witnessing ever-growing trend in bad loans. The chronic deterioration in asset quality is ultimately hitting the banks’ profitability due to covering up for high credit cost.
For the nature of banking sector whose core job is to dealing with mass people’s money, bad loans are nothing new or unique. However, the pace it is growing is alarming. Aggressive endeavors by banks for portfolio target in this populated banking sector played substantial role for rise in NPL. Some other factors like lengthy judiciary process, uncertain business environment and no evidence of exemplary measures against habitual defaulters fuel the growth of piling bad loans. Countries like China, who drastically curbed their bad loan rate over the years, used social shaming as a technique to combat their bad rates. Then again, Malaysian government introduced separate Asset-Management companies to recover the non-cash collaterals by converting them to cash. In Bangladesh, in order to curb the bad rate, whereas due diligence on bank managements’ part is required, the judiciary process needs to be streamlined as well. Also, it is high time the banking sector altogether should take strict social measures against the habitual defaulters in order to combat their default culture.Download View