Middle East: How homegrown travel brands are diversifying distribution?
Phocuswire analyses the travel brands of Middle East and speaks to founder and CEO Bader Al-Bader, Rehlat.
Mr. Bader conveys,”Founded in 2016, Rehlat has quickly become one of the prominent players in the region with 200 employees working in offices across Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, India and Egypt.” He further adds,“We try to customize it to each country,”
Rehlat differentiating itself by adding features that demonstrate its deep understanding of local culture. “For example, for Middle Easterners, even people from India, when they go visit hotels in Europe they would look for a bidet. We don’t care anymore about Wi-Fi - we can get that on our phone - we care, does it have a bidet?” Al-Bader says. “So we introduced a filter where you can see which hotels have bidets and pick based on that. That’s gained traction with customers. It’s very low tech - just tagging hotels - but that’s what customers are looking for.”
Rehlat allows customers to lock fare for flight bookings
Found a fantastic flight deal, but not able to book it because plans are not confirmed yet? Rehlat, Middle East’s leading online travel agency addresses this scenario by bringing in “Price Lock” – an innovative feature that allows you to lock flight fare now and pay only when your plan is confirmed. Even if the fare increases, you still pay the locked fare only.
No matter how fast technology is evolving when it comes to payments, a majority of the Middle East population does not find it comfortable to confirm & pay their booking on one go — this is one of the many reasons why OTAs are adopting flexi-booking option. From easy payment plans to pay @ hotel to the latest “confirm now & pay later”, end users are offered varied payment modes to suit individual requirements.
Bader Al Bader, president, Rehlat talks to TBMEs Charmaine Fernz on intricacies of setting up an OTA for the Middle East traveller, getting the right product mix and plans ahead…
The idea of venturing into the online space emerged when a family member faced problems while booking a personal trip. The outcome of the trip resulted in thought seeded for a year which began in 2011.
The advancements in technology witnessed many players enter the online travel space. However, Bader opines that there are two kinds of OTAs in the Middle East. The regular offline agencies who want to go online with a ready-made booking engine. In this case, it is easy to start but once launched, will the company be able to handle the demand, varying needs of customer service, developer issues and more so exponential growth? The other kind according to him are the serious OTAs, which is barely three to four in the Middle East region; Rehlat can safely be added to this category.
Rehlat is a brand that believes in a world without borders. Rehlat was started by creating the simplest, most seamless travel planning and management experience in the Middle East; and we are on a quest to continue removing barriers to travel, here at home and abroad. With head office in Kuwait, we are steadily gaining a strong foothold in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, and Egypt.
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Apple Pay Launched
Rehlat is now accepting Apple Pay. Use Apple Pay on your iPhone and iPad to pay within the Rehlat iOS app.
eWallet (Karam) launched
Middle East’s first loyalty programme – Karam – which is like a eWallet is introduced.
APP live on iOS
Available in both English & Arabic
APP live on Android
Available in both English & Arabic
Book Careem Cabs on Rehlat App
Available for all Careem operated destinations.
Cancellation Protection introduced
Cancel for any reason & get 80% money back. No questions asked.
Price lock available
Lock your fare & pay later – A revolutionary new feature for flight booking
Samsung Pay on Rehlat
Now pay with Samsung Pay & get 20% Off on international flights.
e-Wallet (Karam) launched
APP live on iOS. Available in both English & Arabic
APP live on Android. Available in both English & Arabic
Alliance with On-cost. Valid on purchase at Hawally, Fahaheel, and Sulabiya Branches.
Collaboration with Mashreq & a special offer launched for Mashreq card holders
We are passionate travellers here at Rehlat. Fueled by wanderlust, we’re on a mission to make it easy and painless for people to go anywhere in the world.
Starting by creating the simplest, most seamless travel planning and management experience in the Middle East, we are on a quest to continue removing barriers to travel, here at home and abroad.
The websites and our customer support cater in both Arabic plus English. The payment systems are also localized to offer the best possible experience. The payment settlement is available in (Kuwaiti Dinar, Emirati Dirham, Qatari Rial, Omani Rial, Bahraini Dinar, Saudi Riyal and Egyptian Pounds) which can be paid through Debit and Credit cards via Visa / Master card / Knet / CashU.
Rehlat has its offices spread across Kuwait, UAE, India, and Egypt.