Countries across the world are facing another year of reduced tourism. The unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the sector hard. The economies dependent on tourism have shrunk significantly. And, Halal tourism is no exception to this. However, one company in the Halal tourism business is seriously “planting the seed” for a return of Muslim travelers soon.
Recently, we had a chance to communicate with Mr. Mehmet Akkurt from HalalTravels.com. He candidly shared his thoughts on the current state of the halal travel industry and the strategies they are adopting to attract Muslim travelers globally.
Could you let us know a bit about yourself and how you got started with your journey as a Halal travel operator?
The journey started with recognizing that there was a clear need that was not being met. What was available did not recognize, let alone attempt to meet the needs of Muslim travelers when it comes to Alcohol-free accommodations, Halal food, and privacy. As a data-driven company in its decision-making, HalalTravels’ founders conducted extensive research to come up with a set of solutions that would cater to and meet this current unfulfilled need.
Established in London, UK, HalalTravels.com has grown from a small startup to one of the major players in the Halal travel industry. Awarded as The Most Innovative Online Muslim Travel Agency in 2020, HalalTravels.com seeks to provide innovative solutions to the online booking process for Muslim travelers. Our team consists of highly qualified Halal travel professionals with extensive experience in the travel and hospitality industry. We are passionate and dedicated to providing our customers with an excellent travel experience.
How would you define the mission of your company?
HalalTravels’ vision is evident, and it is to encourage Muslims to travel without compromising their religious values. In simple words, our mission is to make travel accessible to all Muslims.
Halal tourism market, being a subset of the global tourism industry, has suffered huge losses due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. What do you think the industry players and governments should do to revive the sector?
Tourism is a significant contributor to any country’s economy. Many nations are aware of this and have laid out travel protocols to revive this industry and make travelers feel safe. For instance, Turkey has developed strict safety criteria for travel-related services such as hotels and restaurants. They also empower the traveler to verify whether a specific entity is complying with all the safety criteria or not. Of course, this is in addition to the vaccination efforts.
HalalTravels, as an industry player ourselves, is implementing various strategies that would allow travelers to book with confidence.
Are you targeting a specific segment of the Muslim customers or you are operating as a general Halal tour operator serving any type of Muslim tourists?
We are here to serve all Muslim travelers. However, we understand that their needs lie on a spectrum that ranges from travelers seeking fully halal to some with few halal criteria requirements. Currently, we are focused on meeting the needs of Muslim Families, Muslim Couples, and Muslim Solo Travelers. These three groups have needs that differ, and we want to make sure we are well prepared to meet those needs with excellence.
What is included in your tour packages?
We currently provide Muslim-friendly accommodation options such as Hotels, Villas, and Resorts. Eventually, our goal is to become a one-stop-shop and meet all the travel needs of Muslim travelers under a single roof. We are working towards adding flights, car rentals, tours & activities, and other travel-related services.
What distinguishes you from your competitors who are offering similar Halal tourism services?
Three main factors distinguish HalalTravels from its competitors. The first one is our customer satisfaction-oriented approach. We have created channels that allow our customers to get hold of an agent to ask any questions when booking. This has become even more important now with the current pandemic since customers can reach out to us at any time. Thus, we can efficiently address any issue/concern they may have in planning/during/after their trip. We have received a great deal of positive feedback for this service.
The second one is our goal to create a platform for Muslim travelers to make their voices heard and create a community where they can share their travel experiences. Hence, we launched battuta Blog, invited Muslim guest bloggers to share their experiences, and launched battuta magazine, a halal travel e-magazine, to create representation for Muslim travelers and Muslim businesses.
The third one is we operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Why should potential customers use your Halal tourism services instead of going somewhere else?
We want the booking process to become a pleasant experience. We aim to make it as easy as possible, so travelers are not stressed or worried about their getaway. Our customers have a live agent ready to assist them throughout the booking process. They are prepared to address any questions and concerns that may arise at any point in the journey.
What has been the response so far from your target customers?
The response has been excellent. We currently have 5 Stars on Google Reviews and 4.4 Stars on Trustpilot. Our customer reviews emphasized their satisfaction with our customer-first approach.
How are you reaching out to your target audience?
We utilize our social media channels, collaborations, email marketing, google ads, influencer marketing, print media, and other marketing strategies. Our marketing plan for the upcoming year is more diversified and expands on these strategies.
Are you planning to expand to other markets as well?
Our focus right now is on becoming the one-stop shop for Muslim travelers for all their travel-related needs. However, our young and dynamic team is always ready to take on new challenges.