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Welcome to the World CEO: “Online platforms are increasingly a systematic part of our everyday routines”

Image credits: Welcome to the World headquarter in Dubai (photo Arthur Blok).

We use Online platforms nowadays to communicate, shop, order food, get around and find travel accommodations. The UAE is the eCommerce leader among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. “Online platforms are increasingly a systematic part of our every day routines,” said Stefanie Schachtschabel founder and CEO of the new Dubai based travel platform Welcome to the World.

In a recent study the eCommerce market in the UAE is forecasted to be worth $27.1 billion by 2022. The UAE Ministry of Economy (MoE) estimates that eCommerce constitutes roughly 10% of total sales in the UAE, and that 90% of the UAE population has internet or mobile phone access, which has played an active role in enabling the growth.

With the world in lockdown and this trend in mind Schachtschabel launched Welcome to the World in December 2020. Her new video platform offers travel and tourism operators the opportunity to create their online merchant profiles via a free-of-charge option or with a fixed yearly fee that leverages content revitalization features. At the same time, individual users can create accounts to unlock free welcoming benefits.

“We created the first customer generated online global travel and tourism video platform, where users book directly with suppliers and bypass commission-driven aggregators,” said the Dutch CEO who uses Dubai as her global headquarter destination.

The UAE's retail eCommerce market reached $3.9bn in 2020, a 53 per cent year-on-year increase, recent analysis from Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry revealed. Growth in the online sector is also being driven by increased trust in online commerce. E-government services are migrating to online platforms, where they are integrated with online payment platforms to provide citizens and residents faster and more effective public services.

“Online platforms have the advantage of being able to create value on an exponential level by harnessing the network effects of the internet”, explained Melvin Visser Welcome to the World’s Chief Information Officer. Visser notes that, unlike linear business models, platforms do not own the means of production but instead the means of connection.

“In 2021 online platforms will make up a large part of reservations for hotels, attractions and restaurants. That is a known fact. We basically reinvented the game. Instead of being a platform that is in the middle between the traveler and the merchant, we connect them directly together. In a way we bring honesty back to the market. In a market that grows year on year that is the only way forward in our perspective,” he added.

Welcome to the World’s content gives users a comprehensive overview of each destination’s best options in six segmented categories – Sleep, Eat, Do, Discover, Socialize and Shop – and allows them to click-through and book directly at merchant-owned booking portals.

Since its launch last year Welcome to the World has seen a rapid growth with license agreements signed in the UAE, and The Netherlands. Preparations are currently well underway for similar agreements with new partners in France, Greece, Italy, Qatar and Mexico.

Schachtschabel concludes: “By inspiring our visitors and directly connecting them to the merchants we are trying to give the power back to travel and tourism industry operators. 

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