Planning a religious journey has never been easy but the advent of Pakistan’s one and only online portal BookMyUmrah, has provided the ease of planning our religious journey from home.This facility has been provided by an aspiring entrepreneur, founder and CEO Khurram Mir who has over 15 years’ of experience in the software industry. BookMyUmrah is an online portal that allows pilgrims to find appropriate, hassle free packages for Hajj, Umrah and Ziyarat. The company is currently accelerated at PlanX.
Q: What is BookMyUmrah?
A: BookMyUmrah is a pilgrim’s online solution to all the problems he has to face in order to book their religious tour. We have digitalized the process of booking your religious trip. Our website advertises travel packages from the country’s top travel agencies.The users can specify their requirements to find the package that suits them best. They can read, review and compare different packages through our website. Once they book their package, our company calls them to verify the order.
BookMyUmrah has made the whole process convenient for both the travel agency and the pilgrims. For Travel agencies, BookMyUmrah provides a Customer Acquisition Platform. For Pilgrims, it provides Package Comparison, Expert ratings, User Reviews, Knowledge Hub, Blog and massive Discounts.
Q: You are providing services for Hajj, Umrah and Ziyarat but you have named your website as BookMyUmrah, any specific reason for that?
A: Yes. A relatively higher number of people go for Umrah each year than for Hajj or Ziyarat. I could have named it BookMyHajj or BookMyZiyarat but we wanted to attract a larger audience that’s why we named it so. I could also have named it BookMyUmrahHajjZiyarat but this a very long and unappealing name. We also have BookMyHajj.pk, BookMyZiyarat.pk domains and these redirect the users to bookmyumrah.pk
Q: How did this idea strike you? Have you ever had any personal experience of going for Umrah or Hajj and facing problems?
A: Yes, almost 2 years ago when I had to go for Umrah with my wife I was surprised to know that no information was available online. I had to physically go to various travel agencies and enquire their packages.
Until now, the pilgrims were never guided properly and ended up spending huge amounts of money for services they did not even need.[/mks_pullquote]The whole process of visiting was very tiring, sometimes I couldn’t find a parking space. Secondly, even after visiting these agencies I was unable to get any significant information. Because most of these agencies just used to handover their brochure and didn’t not provide any guidance about which package suits me best. So, it was getting on my nerves. It took me four days just to have an idea of different packages and even then I couldn’t decide which package to choose. This used to be the case with many people.
That was when I decided to do something about it and BookMyUmrah became a reality.
Q: Great. How big is the potential in this market?
A: Well the market is big enough. 8 million Muslims go to Makkah each year to perform Hajj and Umrah Pilgrimages (6 million Umrah pilgrims and 2 million Hajj Pilgrims) worldwide and among them over 1 million are from Pakistan (2015 stats). This number is continuously rising, it is expected that 3-4 times more people will perform Hajj/Umrah from Pakistan by 2019.
In this era of technology, there’s no systemic way through which people can select the right, scam free religious travel package for them
Q: Your expertise lies in the technology sector but running a startup needs other expertise too like management, marketing, development. Who is managing these roles at BookMyUmrah?
A: Well, I have 15 years of experience in the software industry and I have also worked at a senior position at a US firm so I had many professional links and practical knowledge which helped me along the way.
At BookMyUmrah we have an experienced and dedicated team to manage these operations. Anjum Chauhan, who is also a co-founder, has more than 30+ year experience working with Fortune 500 Companies. He is looking into our sales and business development. Dr.Aun, who is a PhD and has two patents, is our board of advisor and Mehreen Siddique is the management and marketing head.
Q: Are you continuing your job or are you solely working for BookMyUmrah?
A: I am solely working for BookMyUmrah.
Q: Was it an easy decision to leave your job and start a new venture?
A: Not really, it wasn’t easy. But I was convinced with my idea. There has to be someone to solve this problem so I left my job to work on it. Yet it wasn’t a sudden decision. I spent almost two years doing my homework, collecting relevant data and talking to people, after that I devised my business model.
Q: You deal with travel agencies all the time, how do you select which travel agencies you should have on board? Is there any selection criteria?
During initial couple of months, BookMyUmrah has partnered with the top 70 travel agencies in the country.A: Yes, we have a very strict procedure for selecting our Partner Travel Agencies. Each Travel agency goes through various verification stages before they are allowed to advertise their packages on BookMyumrah Platform. We only work with Umrah Travel agencies that are certified and registered by IATA, TAAP (Travel Agents association of Pakistan) and with Hajj Travel agencies that are certified and registered by HOAP (Hajj Organizers Association of Pakistan).
Q: It’s been only two weeks since the launch of BookMyUmrah and its facebook page has over 27,000 likes. How is that possible?
A: Well, its Facebook page has been running since last two months. We started getting likes and feedback as soon as we made our page public people started calling us and asked about our packages. The response was massive and people came forward with their queries. This motivated us even more.
Q: The Hajj season is around the corner and its bookings will start taking place in huge numbers. Is your team ready to handle the workload?
A: Yes, we are all ready. It will be our first experience with the Hajj bookings but we are looking forward to serve our clients.
Q: What are your short term and long term goals you are aiming to achieve?
A: Well, we have a few bookings in process so in the short term we want to close those bookings and acquire more customers. Whereas in the long term we intend to add more features, like an online store and a knowledge hub which will provide guidance and training sessions to the pilgrims.
Our future milestone is to become a one stop solution for every pilgrim’s journey and launch our operations globally.
We wish goodluck to the BookMyUmrah team for both their short term and long term goals.