Nearly 50% of Arab tourists rely on the web to plan for their trips and search for any relevant information, and 67% of them ask their friends about their travel experience and their opinion about the trip and the destination, says Yemeni Hussein Sakkaf, the Chief Executive and co-founder of GoEjaza, who recently relocated with his team to Cairo.
GoEjaza is a social platform focusing on travel planning and
trip reviews by Arab travelers.
Sakkaf explains that the startup's main goal is to serve as a reference, since “there is not one organized electronic source, until now, that offers information and reviews, while allowing Arab travelers to benefit from each others’ experiences in an effective swift way. We did our best to provide the necessary information”.
Forming the team was one of the toughest challenges Sakkaf faced
when building the company. “We were looking for highly competent
individuals who have a passion for continuous learning and are
ready to work for a startup,” he explains.
The current team of three all began working at a small website service company in 2003. Their skills now complement each other; Sakkaf works as the web designer (as he has for the past eight years), Computer Sceince graduate Ziad Sherif develops the webiste’s user interface, and Ahmad Jundi is their programmer.
An Integrated Travel Experience
“In my opinion, the real challenge was trying to provide added value to the travel e-market, beyond hotel booking and ticketing services," says Sakkaf. To do so, GoEjaza focuses on offering an integrated travel experience.
After the user skims through traveler reviews, they submit an idea and the GoEjaza team works to organize the trip, allowing the users to add activities from three available feature lists: restaurants, sightseeing locations and landmarks, and shopping. Based on the traveler’s trip requirements, the lists supply suggestions and recommendations for the best activities that other Arab travelers experienced while visiting the same location.
The Present and the Future
In the fall of 2012, GoEjaza graduated from Flat6Labs’ incubator program in its third round. During the initial launch period, the team sought visitor reviews and carefully studied user interaction. Right now, despite the unrest in Egypt, the team can’t wait for the high season to kick off in order to measure user reaction.
Next, the team plans to create a mobile application (for iPhone and Android), and hopes to expand into the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
“We’re looking forward to collaborating with tourist agencies from around the region," says Sakkaf, "to leverage their expertise for enhanced customer care and assistance.”