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Pakistan online business on the rise; domestic tourism need more support

Published on 2nd May, Edition 18, 2016

 

Jovago provide post payment option with 24/7 customer support
Interview with Nadine Malik Almani — Country Manager, Jovago Pakistan

Nadine Malik Almani is the Country Manager of Jovago Pakistan, which is an international venture of Rocket Internet specializing in hotel and vacation rentals globally.

Nadine Malik who is a graduate from Bryn Mawr College, USA, started her career as a banker with Citibank Pakistan. After four years at Citi, she went on to pursue her MBA at INSEAD, France and then worked for 2 years as a Management Consultant for Bain and Company in Singapore and Dubai.

Nadine joined Rocket Internet in August 2014 to establish operations for Jovago.com, Pakistan’s first online hotel booking platform.

Jovago aims to address an existing gap in the industry by facilitating tourism and bringing value added services all under one platform.

In a chit chat with Pakistan and Gulf Economist (PAGE), Nadine Malik shared her views about e-commerce industry in Pakistan.

She said the changing lifestyles are one of the factors that have given rise to online businesses.

Following are the details of talks:

PAGE: What do you think about the online business industry in Pakistan? Does it have a lot to offer in the future?

NADINE: If we talk about 10 years ago, the e-commerce industry had just started and was very new to the Pakistani market. As of now, we can see its growth is phenomenal. More than half of the population is using it one way or the other.

With the availability of cheaper smartphones, launch of 3G/4G Internet service and high presence, as well as people’s involvement in social media has definitely boosted the online industry. The changing lifestyles are another factor that have given rise to online businesses and will do so in the future as well.

PAGE: How is Jovago.com different than any other online hotel booking service?

NADINE: We find ourselves to have the competitive edge over other players in the sector. Firstly, we are the pioneers of online hotel booking service, while others have followed.

We are different in many other aspects too. With 2000+ hotels on board, we provide post payment option with 24/7 customer support. We provide discounts from our own end (discount codes) and have the most competitive prices for 98 percent of our hotels. We offer the “book now, pay later” option to make it more convenient for the customers.

PAGE: Can you highlight your biggest achievements?

NADINE: After launching our operations in Pakistan officially in March, 2015, we have been able to increase our portfolio to more than 2000 and gained presence in 160+cities.

We have 1.5 million views on our website and have grown 10 folds in the number of bookings, and are constantly growing. Our mobile application received 10,000 plus downloads on android in the first month of launch. We have recently also launched an Extranet mobile app for the hoteliers to facilitate them in handling customer bookings.

PAGE: What are your future plans? Where do you see Jovago in the long run?

NADINE: Jovago.com is three things, innovation, convenience and best prices. We plan to expand our operations and cover the remaining cities in the country.

We further plan to introduce travel and tour plans, initially corporate and later for general public.

In the long run, I see Jovago.com as the largest online hotel booking portal in Pakistan with best prices and superior customer service.

It would be a great achievement for Jovago to replace traditional ways of booking hotels that provide biased and little options to the customers.

PAGE: What message do you have for the local travelers?

NADINE: Pakistan is a beautiful country but people are apprehensive about traveling within. I would recommend the travelers to explore the spectacular sites that our country offers before they head out for foreign holiday trips.

I also believe that the government and media need to highlight the positivity of our country and encourage domestic tourism.

Investment should be made in preserving and maintaining our national heritage and cultural assets.

Pakistan has a lot to adore and we should support domestic tourism by traveling within Pakistan as well as attracting foreign tourists.

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