Homegrown online travel portal Tripfez.com aims to aid Muslim travellers around the world with… travelling.
Back in 2013, CEO and co-founder Faeez Fadhlillah and his former schoolmate, Juergen Gallistl brought together their mutual love for travel and set up Tripfez.com—a Muslim-focused online travel agency and hotel review platform. With over 200,000 properties on its site worldwide, Tripfez.com helps Muslim travellers discover, compare, and book hotels and tour services that fit their specific needs. Based in Malaysia, the site allows its users to search for accommodation according to a range of criteria including halal food and a list of halal restaurants in the vicinity, prayer mat and Quran, and a symbol to indicate Qiblah—the direction to face when praying during salat.
An Encounter That Leads To a Change
Often travelling while still a student himself, Faeez told us that preferences should be seen as something important and not to be neglected. “Everyone has different needs. For example, there was this one particular person I met, she said she was from Iran. We saw how hard it was for her to travel. I might not be that particular about things but she is very particular, so it made us realise that localisation or meeting the needs of travellers is very important,” he explains.
From the moment he met the Iran lady, Faeez had thought localisation and specialisation for travelling should be made possible. “If you compare between the ’80s and nowadays, travelling in the past has always been fixed like this is what you have, here are the choices, either you pick or you don’t pick at all. But nowadays is more personalized – in other words, we can get what we want. Like Wi-Fi, you can choose a hotel over another just because it has Wi-Fi and it’s your preferences. So, that’s why we have many segments of travel. In this case, I thought that one of the biggest segments is the Muslim travel and trying to figure out how to actually make people travel beyond the comfort zone.”
Muslim-friendly Tourism: The Next Golden Industry
With the increasing demand in parallel with the expanding Muslim population worldwide, Faeez mentioned that we can expect to see growth in the Muslim-friendly Tourism market and its contribution towards the global economy. “Last year, the total spends is about RM157 billion and by 2020 we expect to see a significant increase. If you were to compare between different countries, certain countries really put themselves into the spotlight, like Saudi Arabia. So, by 2020, we will be seeing 17% increase more in term of spending from Saudi Arabia. So this shows that there is a huge potential (in the market). Similarly, to China 10 years ago, it is a market which is fragmented but united by one common requirement and needs.”
Although the concept introduced by Tripfez is relatively new, the response from both partners/investors and users has been surprisingly positive. “Anything new is kind of a challenge but what really interesting is actually the industry itself has been very receptive. So, we work with hotels which are traditionally not in a Muslim country, for example, Marriott or Starwood which is also now part of Marriott, and Arakur. These are the hotels which we work with and they are very receptive and positive towards the whole idea of Muslim Travel.”
The positive response is also evident from the various national tourism organisations from countries with less Muslim population such as Korea and Japan as they see the size of the market and its potential that is expected to bloom within the next 10 years.
Tripfez.com As A Global Brand
When asked about where Tripfez would be in the next 5 years, Faeez simply replied: “We hope that when you want to travel, the first thing that comes to your minds is Tripfez.” Striving to become more innovative in the near future, Faeez told us that Tripfez will launch an application downloadable to your mobile devices by the third quarter this year. The app is said to come with 3 key elements—informational, community, and engagement.
“The first element is informational, so it has all the information that you are looking for like which hotels offer Halal food and which hotel doesn’t or which restaurants are Halal certified by the local authorities. The second one is community where you can actually review and comment, and see what other users are saying or suggesting. The third one—engagement—aims to create an engaging user whereby it’s very useful. So that’s the whole idea of what we want to create – we want to bring value to the users so that they can actually find stuff, communicate and see what other people are suggesting for them to go or where to go”, Faeez concluded.