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Myanmar’s travel portal set to ride tech growth wave

Nov 11. 2018
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By KHINE KYAW
THE NATION
YANGON

6,460 Viewed

AS MORE people in Myanmar become aware of the benefits brought by technology, Flymya.com – the nation’s leading one-stop travel portal owned by local investment firm BOD Tech Co – is eyeing bigger growth in the years ahead, Mike Than Tun Win, the firm’s founder and chief executive, said.

“It has been nearly three years since we launched our website in January 2016. We are fully aware that Myanmar people’s digital literacy has improved a lot, compared to a few years back. Now, it is time to ride the tech growth wave here,” he said in an exclusive interview.

“Until a few years ago, the majority of people in Myanmar were not interested in buying online. As more people have access to the Internet and as mobile data has become more affordable, some of the population has become familiar with online services. I believe the majority of the population will get used to them within a short period of time.”

Mike believes in investing in information technology as well as research and development. An estimated 30 per cent of the firm’s total investment has gone towards strengthening its IT infrastructure and the capacity of its technical staff, he said.

“IT investments usually cost a fortune. By its nature, it requires a lot of comprehensive research, which inevitably results in higher expenditure for businesses. That is why a number of local businesses are struggling to survive in the long run,” he said.

Mike considers telecom infrastructure, consumer behaviour and online payment systems as the three important factors for a technology boom in Myanmar. Over the past few years, he has witnessed a remarkable improvement in users’ behaviour and infrastructure, though it may take some years to see the nationwide use of payment systems in such a cash-dominated society.

Impressive growth

Mike believes Flymya.com will grow in tandem with the development of technology in the country. As technology shapes the people, the firm is about to meet its five-year target of US$15 million yearly revenue within three years of commercial operations. The firm expects to enjoy stronger 8-digit revenue over the next few years.

“We are growing 250 per cent year on year, and aim to reach the peak within the next 7 to 10 years. By then, we will make sure we have at least 40 per cent of total market share,” he said.

Mike seems confident of reaching his short-term target of ensuring 10 per cent of the market share by the end of next year. Currently, Flymya’s services include flight tickets, bus tickets, train tickets, hotel bookings, tour packages, car rental, events and attraction tickets, cruise bookings and balloon tickets. Most of the firm’s revenues are generated by air ticket sales, as it is currently cooperating with around 20 airlines.

“We cover all the routes in Myanmar because we also sell bus and train tickets to more than 100 major destinations here. And our system is very strong – just in case the ticket for your destination is out of stock at Flymya, there is no way to buy it elsewhere,” he said. Next year, the firm will put more emphasis on hotel bookings, home-to-home delivery and its omni channel. It launched Get Digital Shop in May, which now has more than 1,000 shops on its online platform and expects to reach over 10,000 shops by next year. It will also continue cash on delivery services in Yangon and Mandalay.

“Our strategy is that we will not walk alone. This means we will go hand in hand with other businesses towards our growth path. If someone can do better than us in any line of business that we are considering, we will not hesitate to cooperate with them,” he said.

Mike said the firm would prioritise business to consumer (B2C) as a core business model rather than the business to business (B2B). To ensure a larger consumer base, the firm has acquired Go-Myanmar.com and London-based engineering team SWITCH.CM for a US$ six-digit sum each.

“This has resulted in rapid growth of website visits. Around 6.5 million people visit its website on a yearly basis, and we have 1.5 million unique users per year,” he said.

Mike also takes pride in the performance of his workforce of nearly 200 employees who come from 10 nationalities. Yet, he explained that less than 5 per cent of them are expatriates, and locals always take the majority of seats in the firm’s senior management. For better consumer experience, a call centre serves all the clients’ needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“Our aim is to make travelling in Myanmar hassle-free. We have set our sights on removing the fuss from the process by bringing you a newly revamped one-stop shop for domestic bookings online,” he said.

 

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