The man behind Cobone.com has launched an online travel company.
Paul Kenny set up the daily deals website in 2010 and earlier this year sold a majority stake to Tiger Global Management, a New York-based investment firm, which is believed to have made US$1 billion trading in Facebook.
Mr Kenny stayed on as chief executive of the company and has now co-founded the online package holiday venture Triperna with the backing of Tiger.
The company conducted a research report, which found that the travel market in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt is worth some $35bn a year.
“It’s an absolutely massive market and probably what’s most exciting about that market is that still 90 per cent of that market is offline,” said Mr Kenny, who is also the chief executive of Triperna.
“The same thing was happening in Ireland 15 years ago. People used to go to travel agents and tour operators to book their holidays and then they have transitioned that to go online. What’s interesting here is that many people are already researching their holidays online but they are still purchasing offline, but that trend will change.”
Triperna accepts both credit card and cash payments for those reluctant to use their cards online and offers everything from staycation trips in the Emirates to holidays in London, Kathmandu and the Maldives.
“What’s unique about the platform is that you’re not just getting the room night. You can book a package with us, say at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai, and you’re going to get tickets for Burj Khalifa as well,” said Mr Kenny.
Analysts say that the online travel space in the region has potential, but new companies will prosper only if they are competitive against existing players.
“Online travel companies will only succeed if their inventory and price points are competitively priced compared to global players like Expedia and Travelocity,” said Gaurav Sinha, the founder and managing director of the travel representation agency Insignia.
“In principle I think looking at online solutions to provide travel [options] is a plus. I don’t think it works in the ultra luxury segment of the travel industry because human engagement is always going to play a very important role when you are looking at bespoke travel arrangements. If it is cheap tickets and cheap holidays there is growth for it, provided that cheap is something you can deliver on.”