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Business  23, Dec 2013

HalalTrip: Targeting an untapped billion dollar Muslim travel industry

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Listings on HalalTrip feature Halal restaurants and friendly amenities besides mosques, allowing Muslim travellers make an educated and informed choice

Fazal Bahardeen and Dany Bolduc, founders of Crescentrating, a rating system to rate travel & hospitality services and facilities for Halal Friendliness, have launched another website catering to the Muslim community. HalalTrip, the latest launch, is a full fledged travel booking site that specialises in the needs of the Muslim travellers.

The USP?

HalalTrip claims to feature over 380,000 hotels and other accommodations to choose from, through a partnership with global accommodation booking site Booking.com. The listings are complimented with a global directory of Halal restaurants and other friendly amenities, besides listings of mosques and prayer information.Users can also easily book flights through a meta search engine powered by Wego.

 

HalalTrip will be making full use of its sister site crescentrating.com, by featuring ‘Crescentrated Hotels’ — verified and audited Halal friendly facilities and amenities. Crescentrating claims to be the world’s leading authority on Halal Travel, which helps the travel industry cater to Muslim travellers with ‘Halal Friendly’ rating, ranking and accreditation services for hotels, travel operators and other service providers.

Rating from 1 to 7

How does the rating system work? The Crescentrating system rates overall Halal friendliness on a scale of one to seven, with seven being the highest rating.

The service ratings are separated into four different areas:

  • Halal food facilities
  • Salaath (prayer) facilities
  • Services during Ramadan
  • Level of non-Halal activities in the hotel and additional Halal-friendly recreational facilities

In order for the establishment or service to be Crescentrated, it must provide at least the minimum level of service as defined by Crescentrating.

The rating system is currently adopted by hotels such as Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Grand Seasons Hotel, Royal Plaza on Scotts, and a handful of others. The team claims that the ratings are recognized by the New Zealand Tourism, Jordan Inbound Tour Operations Association, Tourism Council of Western Australia as well as Indonesia.

Dany Bolduc, Chief Operating Officer, Crescentrating

Dany Bolduc, Chief Operating Officer, Crescentrating

Dany Bolduc, Chief Operating Officer, Crescentrating, tells e27 that locally no one is paying attention to this huge untapped market. “It’s funny, because we have been recognised by media worldwide, including BBC World News, Al Jazeera, The Economist, The New York Times, as the authority in Halal Travel, but there isn’t much interest from the local (Singapore) media.” Bolduc is a former General Manager of AirAsia iVentures

Opportunities in the Muslim Travel Market

According to Crescentrating, the Muslim travel market was worth US $130B in 2012 (excluding religious travel such as Hajj and Umrah), representing 12.5 per cent of the total global outbound tourism market. To put this in context, Muslim travel is a bigger market than the US or Chinese markets. By 2020, Muslim travel is estimated to be worth US$200B. It’s the largest untapped ‘niche’ market in the travel industry today.

“The Halal travel market is currently underserviced despite its size, consisting of a handful of players with fragmented product offerings. HalalTrip has the potential to become the Halal version of an Expedia or TripAdvisor and is currently raising funds to support its first phase of growth,” Bolduc says.

The global Crescentrating ratings and accreditation services are sold via an annual subscription model. For HalalTrip, the platform is generating revenue through commission from flights, hotel and tour package sales, along with other online travel agent (OTA) sites.

Tailor-made packages

Tour packages tailor made for Muslim travellers will soon be available on HalalTrip.com and via accredited travel agents. These tour packages have been developed in partnership with Kuoni Group Travel Experts, one of the world’s largest wholesale tour operators.

Reinforcing his confidence in HalalTrip, Olivier Moeschler, Kuoni Group Travel Expert’s Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing Asia Pacific & the Americas, says, “With a rising population exceeding 1.6 billion people, Muslims are increasingly choosing travel options that combine their wish to see the best of leading destinations with more specialised needs such as Halal food, Salaath facilities or services during Ramadan. Our partnership with Crescentrating and HalalTrip.com will help us exceed their expectations as we further expand our range of Halal friendly travel destinations, accommodation and experiences.”

In-flight prayers

Another product, which Crescentrating developed is an in-flight app developed by Crescentrating that lets travelling Muslims calculate prayer times and the proper location of Mecca based on their location. The app will let users calculate location and time along a flight path that will be available when the device is not connected to the Internet. Users can also set reminders for prayer times and look for Halal food options at an airport.

Crescentrating and its new website HalalTrip is definitely set to be a major player in the travel industry, making it to the author’s list of “Singapore Startups to watch in 2014″. It has a strong suite of products targetted at a hugely untapped but growing market, led by a strong management team.

It is currently raising a US$2.5 million round, which is being led by Islamic Bank of Asia (IBA), a division of DBS.

Read also: Travel linkup: S Korea’s Tidesquare invests in Singapore’s BeMyGuest

Jacky Yap

Jacky Yap

Having spent one year abroad in Shanghai under the NUS Overseas College Programme, Jacky has an avid interest in entrepreneurship and web based startups. Jacky used to run N-House, Singapore's first entrepreneurial themed residence in NUS, and was also part of the organizing team for Startup Weekend Singapore 2012. You can reach him at jacky [at] e27 [dot] co

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