Dubai based global travel platform Welcome to the world is currently raising millions of investment in support of their substantial growth in the past year. Former Dutch Minister of Finance Jan Kees de Jager is the latest investor that jumped on board.
Welcome to the World, is a new travel and tourism initiative which promotes direct bookings bypassing commission-driven aggregators. “I was directly enthusiastic by the concept because it serves both sides of a tourism market that was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said De Jager.
The former Dutch minister was already an entrepreneur at the age of eight. He was buying second-hand toys and reselling it to friends. He currently is president -and co-founder- of Easygenerator. The company, which recently opened an office in Dubai, develops software for interactive e-learning. De Jager is also the strategic advisor of Sana Commerce (B2B e-commerce software). Another company he co-founded.
Welcome to the World’s video content gives users a comprehensive overview of each destination’s best options in six segmented categories – Sleep, Eat, Do, Discover, Socialise and Shop – and allows them to click-through and book direct at merchant-owned booking portals.
De Jager has a nose for viable start-ups. From his personal experience, he knows launching a start-up is not easy. “Start-ups and scaleups are important because they bring innovation and dynamism to an established market. That is exactly what Welcome to the World does,” he said.
“I invested in the platform because they basically re-invented the game. On one side there is the consumer who gets inspired by a certain destination, and on the other side, the provider of accommodation or recreational activities,” he added.
The initiative was born amid the Covid-19 pandemic, explained early-stage investor Casper van de Minkelis who was working for Dubai Tourism on Strategic Partnerships. The Dutch investor was contacted by Stefanie Schachtschabel who has pioneered Welcome to the World.
“I was immediately excited when Stefanie told me about creating a platform that connects the traveller and the industry. Driving direct bookings, without paying commissions but instead providing welcoming benefits to help get the industry back on its feet,” Van de Minkelis said.
Over time Van de Minkelis grew even more enthusiastic about the idea, and in addition to investing, he has recently joined Welcome to the World, as Chief Strategy Officer: “Our collective knowledge was a good combination. Stefanie knows a lot about destination campaigns, while I learned a lot about the overall travel industry, because of my background at Dubai Tourism. “
Welcome to the World offers travel and tourism operators the opportunity to create their online merchant profiles via a free-of-charge option or with a fixed yearly fee which leverages content revitalization features. At the same time, individual users can create complimentary personal accounts to unlock a world of welcoming benefits.
Van de Minkelis explained that in his perspective, Welcome to the World offers a solution for a few problems in the Tourism industry. “Usually, bookings sites charge a high commission, which harms the industry. In addition, to getting inspired about a certain destination and book, you need to go to various platforms. We are bringing this together.”
“So, the consumer books directly at the travel provider or hotel. The knife cuts both ways: the provider pays no commission to an intermediate website, and he gets a direct relation with the customer. While the consumer gets a better experience for less money,” De Jager concluded.
Late September, His Highness Sheikh Mana bin Mohammed bin Rashid bin Mana Al Maktoum signed an exclusive local partnership agreement named Welcome to the UAE. Preparations are well underway for similar agreements with partners in France, Greece, Italy, Qatar, and Mexico.
Welcome to the World is still open for other investors.
The current investment round closes in the fourth quarter of 2021.