The Bangladesh travel industry has been on a steady growth, with number of outbound leisure trips remarkably growing year after year, with the ticketing industry in Bangladesh worth over BDT 3250 crore, with up to 40,000 Bangladeshis going abroad every month. This week, HiFi met Kashef Rahman, founder and CEO of Travel Booking Bangladesh, a tech based travel startup. They’re a one stop solution for traveling needs, with services ranging from buying tickets, to booking hotels, pick-and-drop transport and more. Travel Booking Bangladesh, in less than half a decade, has become one of the most profitable travel agencies in Dhaka, with a robust community of 34,000 active members on their Facebook group, and an extremely loyal customer base. Kashef can usually be seen rigorously multitasking, holistically managing his team as well as clients, looking ridiculously young for a man who did his undergrad at North South University in the early 2000s.
“I always loved traveling.” says Kashef. “Me and my wife always used to travel. Regardless of how we were doing financially, we would make at least two big trips a year. Our friends and family would notice and always come to us for help.” Kashef Rahman had an extensive background in telecom industry, starting out working in call centres in Grameenphone and going on to become a post paid channel head in Banglalink. TravelBookingBD took root, as people would come to him for help with their traveling processes and decisions. Kashef would gladly help, as this was his passion and area of expertise. As requests grew in number, and started coming in more frequently taking up more and more of his time, Kashef decided to open a Facebook page. There were days on which he’d be back from work, and sit down to answering calls in front of his laptop, with his then newborn daughter on his lap. Eventually, time came for a watershed. Kashef left his job at Banglalink to focus fully on this startup that would one day, take him places (pun-intended).
Travel Booking BD now operates with a team of 35, and an in-house tech team, which is extremely uncommon and possibly non existent for a Bangladeshi travel startup. They have a robust website, and an app (which has over 3000 downloads), and an extremely loyal customer base, with over 60% of them being returning customers (who travel four to five times a year). Rome wasn’t built in a day. Travel Booking BD is renowned and loved by users for a meticulously transparent and prompt service system that delivers the lowest rates in the market. “We always buy tickets in bulk,” says Kashef, “and although it helps us lower cost, it is risky. And that brings us back to our ability to sell those tickets. That is where we deliver, garnering us a strong relationship with our partners overseas.”
Travel Booking is a tight flat ship, with employees broken into small teams: a flight team to book tickets, a visa team, a package team (for booking hotels), a product team, an accounts team and an in house tech team. Having worked closely with management information systems in his telecom days, Kashef had realized earlier on that tech would transform how service is delivered, at a time when travel agencies in Bangladesh weren’t thinking ahead. I had the delight to go over Travel Booking’s extensive and highly detailed Query Management System that allows the company to seamlessly interact with clients across multiple platforms, and also collects insights for Kashef to go over, and make strategic or marketing related decisions. The system allows for billing, and updates, which are sent to clients in emails. The emails themselves are extremely thorough, with detailed pricing breakdowns and dates.
“Ethics are very important, regardless of which industry you are working in,” says Kashef. Travel Booking BD’s service is centered around prompt deliveries and accountability. “We deliver what we promise. We have a no hidden charges policy,” he adds. Kashef was also one of the first entrepreneurs within his industry to properly utilize Facebook to grow his startup, in 2012. “Back then, other local travel agencies had not yet taken their marketing activities to social media. I was running the official Travel Booking BD group, and the engagement was consistent, and meaningful.” Travel Booking also has a successful public Viber group, another concept that very few companies thought of. However, the marketing activities of TBBD has not stayed restricted to social media alone. Anyone who gets to peek inside Kashef’s office can see numerous cricketing trophies he has won playing cricket for North South University and at corporate cricketing events. Being passionate about the sport, Kashef invests frequently in sponsorships at university cricket events and corporate cricket matches. Earlier this year, TBBD met a major milestone getting cricketer Shakib Al Hasan as their brand ambassador, and also getting their names on the Rajshahi Kings jersey in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Travel Booking BD is an innovator in the travel agency world, with a high responsiveness approach towards adapting in a rapidly changing market. They are a candidate in the 25th annual World Travel Awards. To help TBBD bring this trophy home, register for an account in order to cast your vote at this link. A verification email will be sent to your email account and you will need to click the verification link to verify your email address before you can login to cast your vote. Nominees are listed alphabetically within each award.