Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- ‘Welcome to the World’ aims to solve problem of high commissions paid to OTAs
- Touted as ‘YouTube for tourism’, the site drives commission-free direct bookings
- ‘SmartGuide’ and ‘Travel’ placed second and third, respectively
‘Welcome to the World’ has been named the first ever winner of the ATM Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition, which saw a selection of the region’s most innovative travel and tourism start-ups deliver pitches on the ATM Travel Tech Stage for the chance to secure up to USD500,000.
A total of 15 finalists gave presentations in front of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2022’s five-strong panel of industry judges, including: Alaa Ismail Al Haija, Founder and CEO of AladdinB2B, SalesMENA and the Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition; Hadi Saeed AlShakhori, Business Incubation Manager at Wa’ed; Walid Tarabih, Founder and CEO of PLATX, and former advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office of the UAE; Matthew Gardiner, Founder of A1 AI; and Bashar Sami El-Khasawneh, Associate Professor at Khalifa University.
The judges assessed pitches from a range of start-ups, which – in addition to ‘Welcome to the World’ – included AirportAssist.com, Elves, Gauvendi, Hotailors, Lykos, Octoos, OnArrival, Road.Travel, SmartGuide, SLF, S-Rate, Teamatix, Telgani and Travelexic.
‘Welcome to the World’ aims to solve the problem of high rates of commission charged by online travel agencies (OTA). Described by Founder and CEO Stefanie Schachtschabel as ‘YouTube for tourism’, the platform enables tourism businesses and travel influencers to drive direct bookings commission-free by sharing videos.
Commenting after the presentation of her award and cheque, Schachtschabel said, “We are obviously very happy. We have been working hard to reach where we are today and having the confidence of so many investors mean the world to us. So how do I feel? Happy, that’s for sure!“
“We are in the midst of our seed round, which means we are onboarding investment. These funds will be used to build in state-of-the-art technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to monetise our data, and also to scale our business to the 48 destinations that we are currently targeting,” she added.
‘Welcome to the World’ currently boasts more than 185,000 monthly users, having already attracted brands such as Anantara Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Accor, Address Hotels + Resorts, W Hotels, Radisson Blu and Ritz-Carlton Dubai. The investment gained as part of the first ever ATM Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition follows USD264,000 already secured as part of the firm’s pre-seed round.
After taking first place at the ATM Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition, ‘Welcome to the World’ will now have the opportunity to compete for a further USD500,000 of investment as part of hit TV show, Meet the Drapers.
Digital tour guide platform ‘SmartGuide’ and route marketplace ‘Road.Travel’ came in second and third place, respectively.
Commenting on the aims of the competition, AladdinB2B’s Alaa Ismail Al Haija said, “I’m an entrepreneur myself so I know what it means to have a dream to be successful. The most important thing is to be supported and to feel that you are not alone. That’s why we are seeing so much support for entrepreneurs in Dubai today. This ecosystem is the most important thing and I’m fortunate to be contributing a little part of it.”
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME for Arabian Travel Market, said, “The ATM Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition is a fantastic initiative, which we believe will act as a springboard for innovative travel and tourism companies that are working to reshape our industry for the better. I would like to offer my congratulations to all of the finalists and in particular to Stefanie and the rest of the Welcome to the World team.”
On the ATM agenda today, (Wednesday 11 May), SaaS specialist Atlas will host a panel of experts, who will share insights into how data is changing airline retailing. Moderated by Brian Staunton, Atlas’s Chief Commercial Officer, speakers will include Ashish Kumar, Director Commercial – Flights Booking at Wego Middle East; Mary Li, Founder and CEO of Atlas; and Yong, Chief Solution Architect at Alibaba Cloud MEA (ATM Travel Tech Stage).