Middle East-based online travel agency Holidayme on Wednesday announced that it is merging with Malaysia-based travel startup Tripfez to form one of the world’s largest Muslim-focused online travel agencies.
The newly merged entity has also raised $16 million in a Series C funding round led by China and Kuala Lumpur-based venture capital firm Gobi Partners. Other investors in the round include India-based Accel Partners, UAE-based Global Ventures, Egypt’s Algebra Ventures and Lebanon-based B&Y Venture Partners.
The merger and investment round marks Gobi’s second investment into the TaqwaTech space in 2018, after it led a $1.5-million Series A round for Pakistan-based online travel startup Sastaticket recently. TaqwaTech refers to startups offering products and services targeted at the Muslim community.
“When Faeez and Geet approached me with their plan to come together and scale across multiple Muslim economies, I became very excited. This is one of the biggest opportunities in the travel space. This merger will serve as a catalyst that energises an entire generation of TaqwaTech entrepreneurs,” said Gobi Partners founding partner Thomas Tsao.
According to both parties, the merger will enable Holidayme to expand into ASEAN along with Tripfez, which features 200,000 properties worldwide. The startups will be building a “next generation Umrah solution” that caters to 30 million potential Umrah visitors by 2030. The solution will be rolled out in Malaysia and later, Indonesia. In addition, Holidayme will also leverage Tripfez’s Salam Standard data, which includes over 27,000 restaurants and over 93,000 hotels network.
“At Holidayme, we have continued to provide our customers with next generation technology and user experience for their travel booking requirements. After experiencing phenomenal growth in the Middle East, the merger with Tripfez marks an extension of our business into Southeast Asia. We are focused on providing a niche product carved towards the travel requirements of 1.8 billion Muslims globally, and Southeast Asia is key to that plan,” said Holidayme co-founder and CEO Geet Bhalla.
Holidayme was launched in 2014, offering on-the-fly customised travel solutions to travellers across the Middle East, enabling users to lower costs by building their own package. It claims to have achieved a GMV growth rate of 127 per cent year-on-year and says transactions have been growing 163 per cent year-on-year.
“This merger is a major milestone in the ongoing development of the fast-growing Muslim travel and tourism sector. Tripfez and Holidayme are dedicated to delivering the finest online travel booking services to the global Muslime community. This is being fuelled by increasingly affluent Muslim populations in Asia and the Middle East where all generations, particularly millennials, have a strong appetite for travel and where our two companies command a large market share,” said Tripfez co-founder Faeez Fadhlillah.
Launched in 2016, Tripfez has a patented Salam Standard certification process that reviews hotels and scores them according to how Muslim-friendly their rooms and amenities are. The startup is an existing portfolio company of Gobi Partners.