Arabian Travel Market: Zero-commission start-up…

The zero-commission OTA Welcome to the World hotel was named the winner of the inaugural Draper-Aladdin ATM startup competition at the annual Dubai show this week.

The company beat out 15 other startup launch contest finalists to win a guaranteed $30,000 and the chance to boost it to $500,000.

Digital tour guide platform SmartGuide and route marketplace Road.Travel ranked second and third respectively.

After winning, Welcome to the World now has the opportunity to bid to appear on the hit US TV show Meet the Drapers and secure additional funding.

The company currently has over 185,000 monthly users and works with brands including Anantara Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Accor, Address Hotels + Resorts, W Hotels, Radisson Blu and Ritz-Carlton Dubai.

The investment secured in the first-ever ATM Draper-Aladdin startup competition follows $264,000 already secured in a pre-seed round.

Welcome to the World says it aims to address the issue of high commission rates charged by OTAs.

Described as “YouTube for Tourism”, the platform enables tourism businesses and travel influencers to generate commission-free direct bookings by sharing videos.

Founder and Managing Director Stefanie Schachtschabel said: “We are obviously very happy. We have worked hard to get to where we are today and having the trust of so many investors means the world to us. So how do I feel? Happy, that’s for sure.

“We are in the middle of our funding round, which means we are integrating investments. These funds will be used to integrate advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to monetize our data, and also to expand our business to the 48 destinations we are currently targeting,” she added.

Alaa Ismail Al Haija of AladdinB2B said, “I’m an entrepreneur myself, so I know what it means to have a dream of success. The most important thing is to be supported and to feel that you are not alone.

“That’s why we are seeing so much support for entrepreneurs in Dubai today. This ecosystem is the most important thing and I have the chance to contribute a little to it.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibitions Director for the Middle East at ATM, added: “The ATM Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition is a fantastic initiative, which we believe will serve as a springboard for innovative travel and tourism businesses that are growing. strive to reshape our industry for the better.

“I would like to extend my congratulations to all of the finalists and in particular to Stefanie and the rest of the Welcome to the World team.”

Judges for the Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition included: Hadi Saeed AlShakhori, Head of Business Incubation at Wa’ed; Walid Tarabih, Founder and CEO of PLATX and former Advisor to the Office of the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates; Matthew Gardiner, Founder of A1 AI; and Bashar Sami El-Khasawneh, associate professor at Khalifa University.

Other finalists not ranked in the top three were: AirportAssist.com, Elves, Gauvendi, Hotailors, Lykos, Octoos, OnArrival, SLF, S-Rate, Teamatix, Telgani and Travelexic.

Willie R. Golden