Following the recent launch of Cambodia’s online bus ticketing platform CamboTicket, it turns out that one Myanmar-born entrepreneur is doing the same for his home country.
With the Myanmar government projecting some five million visitors in 2015, the country is still lacking a modern and well-designed bus ticketing platform. Existing ticketing website Myanmar Bus Ticket, for example, looks like it hasn’t seen a refresh for at least a decade.
“Myanmar is opening up. The tourist industry is opening up… But the infrastructure is not ready… Local bus tickets are still [bought] manually,” Kyaw Lin Oo, Founder, ScapeTour told e27. He is also the Founder of EventNook, a leading Singapore-based events ticketing website.
By ‘manually’, Kyaw means tickets have to be bought in-person at high street agencies.
The country has seen the number of annual visitors increase exponentially from 791,505 in 2010 to more than two million in 2013. But despite the growth, ticketing has not caught up. Even domestic airplane tickets in Myanmar cannot be bought on one platform.
“When [visitors] arrive, they have to figure out where to buy bus tickets, airline tickets, and it wastes time. I have the same problem… I have to spend a few hours to go out and buy a bus ticket,” Kyaw said.
To make the business work in the initial stages, ScapeTour is hiring staff to physically purchase tickets on behalf of clients, which are then scanned and emailed. But that will eventually have to change to an automated system in order to scale.
At present, the startup is working with three major bus operators in the country. Kyaw estimates that there are about 30 operators in total, but most are small with minor operations.
The platform actually launched about six months ago, but underwent a revamp two weeks ago. It covers five major Myanmar destinations: Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Naypyidaw, and Taunggyi.
ScapeTour is using PayPal to process payments, and takes a 10-20 per cent commission on all transactions. Kyaw said he is not currently looking for investment.
“Eventually, ScapeTour will not just do bus ticketing. We will also offer car rental, airport transfer service, tour packages and sightseeing. For example, US$50 per person to go for the local experience and stuff like that. So as we move along we will expand to other products,” Kyaw said.
“Myanmar also has hot air balloons, boat rides, trains… At the same time as we build relationships with ticketing agencies, we might be able to build their back-end operations to be fully integrated with [us],” he added.
Kyaw admits that the ScapeTour will not be able to serve the local population under its present model. Many workers in the country are only earning a few dollars per day, meaning the commission side alone would likely cost their entire day’s wage.
This acts as a reminder of just how ’emerging’ Myanmar’s market really is, and how hard it still is to build a successful startup there as we head into 2015 proper.
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