How the intents of two entrepreneurs are transforming the travel industry of Nepal

  • afcb643f2a3f336b82e906c6653eb5ca.jpg
How the intents of two entrepreneurs are transforming the travel industry of Nepal

 

Entrepreneurs find and fill gaps in the market, innovate new ways of doing things, take greater risks in life. It is a common understanding among us all. But there is also something more that is common among entrepreneurs too – their intent behind what they do. Prakash Neupane and Manish Amgain were guided by intent that was both powerful and “larger-than-life” to start NepFlights. The co-founders intend to not just sell flight tickets conveniently, but march towards their vision to make the best use of technology to build a better tourism infrastructure in Nepal.

Established in 21 April, 2014, NepFlights is Nepal’s first API (Application Programme Interface) based online domestic flight booking platform and is a joint venture of Smart Samaj and Flight Connection. It has also been recognized by the Nepali Times as Nepal’s best flight booking platform.

 

Intent to leave a mark in the tourism industry of Nepal

Prakash’s company Smart Samaj was working as a technology partner for a hotel in Chitwan and this experience later became a huge motivation for Prakash and Manish to do something in the tourism sector. Flight Connection was their client for this hotel. Using Smart Samaj’s technology, the hotel had started to perform impressively within a year with the new found presence in online and social media front. Just working on this project for the hotel, they saw how big the capacity of tourists and bookings were and they foresaw how bigger it could be with the number of hotels and tourist service providers in the country.

Prakash also used to have a difficult time trying to map Nepal as a country to most people on his visit abroad. “When I told them I am from the land of Mt. Everest, only then they could locate,” he says.

When I told them I am from the land of Mt. Everest, only then they could locate.

Upon his return, he tried to learn the happenings in the tourism sector and got disappointed; there wasn’t even an online flight booking system. “Flight is the basic thing. When you think of going anywhere, the first thing you probably think about is how you will fly till there.” But there was nothing connecting foreigners to Nepal and different parts of the country, despite being known as a tourism country. That made Prakash think of the existing gap and how technology can be utilized to build a system that would possibly bridge the gap. They saw an online flight booking system to be the right place to start.

 

Intent clashed with reality

It wasn’t an easy start, but NepFlights had right people around them. When they went to pitch the idea of NepFlights to domestic airline companies, they turned them down because they assumed the market wasn’t prepared to accept such a radical change. But since Prakash and Manish had worked earlier with Flight Connection, the company selling the largest number of flight tickets in Nepal, they believed them because of the credibility they had earned from their earlier works. Flight Connection made calls to these airlines to show them the future, and only then they were ready to be a part of this radical shift.

Today, NepFlights provides services of all seven domestic airlines to 25 destinations within Nepal. In an average, NepFlights serves 50 to 100 customers per day. NepFlights has also integrated secured online payment gateway such as eSewa, NIBL, iPay, Paypal into their system. They also provide offline payment service that includes cash-on-delivery system.

 

Intent to connect every household to tourism

NepFlights has gone beyond just NepFlights. It also has a network of individuals and organizations who can become an agent and sell flight tickets on behalf of NepFlights called Nepnetwork, and it has over 4000 agents across Nepal. These agents are divided into four categories: travel agencies, cyber and communication centres, individuals and hotels or corporate companies.

Other than its core value proposition, NepFlights also has a big price advantage. Since it is the only player between the airline company and customers, where traditionally there would have been at least two travel agencies, it can sell flight tickets cheaper than elsewhere, and this reason also makes the idea of Nepnetwork possible. When agents sell tickets, they just have to share a slice of their commission with them, while in return, it creates a huge amount of business for NepFlights.

While this is making them visible in the market, their intent behind Nepnetwork is bigger than a marketing stunt. “At NepFlights, we believe that tourism isn’t just Mt. Everest and Lumbini, it is equally our culture, our livelihoods, and what we do in our households,” says Prakash, “We believe that tourism can flourish in Nepal when Nepali people become part of it and through Nepnetwork, they are getting an opportunity.”

 

Intent to not just sell tickets cheaply, but be there in need

Their service isn’t only limited to tickets, but it extends to manage any travel crisis for all its customers. Say you are tourist stuck in Jumla and your flight gets cancelled. NepFlights can send you a helicopter so that you can return back to the capital to catch a flight back home next day. “We opened our office post-earthquake only to cancel the flight tickets. It’s like we opened our office to lose our business. We also managed to refund our customers then,” says Manish. At a time when revenues of tourism businesses across the country were affected post-earthquake, people at NepFlights kept their customers convenience in the first place. It wasn’t necessary for them to refund their customers who had already paid for their flight tickets, but refunding them during such crisis was the right thing to do for them. This deemed them to be a reliable service provider in front of those customers. 

We opened our office post-earthquake only to cancel the flight tickets. It’s like we opened our office to lose our business. We also managed to refund our customers then.

For NepFlights, customer satisfaction is the most important part of what they do. “I also have held the flight for five minutes in the runway for a passenger,” adds Manish. 

“Entrepreneurs are selling dreams,” says Prakash, and NepFlights dreams not just to sell flight tickets cheaply but eventually utilize technology to transform the tourism industry of Nepal in years to come. And, this dream is not fueled by their passion alone, but their intent has made sure they are intact in striving to achieve whatever they aspire. 

I also have held the flight for five minutes in the runway for a passenger.

 

Comments

  • No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest
Guest Friday, 01 July 2022