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Start Travel: On a Middle East drive

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Start Travel, an IATA Accredited travel company based in Baku is focused on offering its customers trips that are filled with experiences and fun. The Company having well-established itself is keen to tap into the potential Middle East market.

In a candid discussion with Travel Bulletin Middle East, Farid Rasulov, director of Start Travel LLC says, “Since our inception, we have been successful in implementing packages from ‘A to Z’. Our USP is that we offer an individual approach to our customers. In addition, one of our main advantages is having special agreements with hotels in our country. This helps us offer our customers the best rates with an ability to block rooms for high-demand seasons and offer rooms in times of shortage. Being IATA-accredited also allows us to purchase air tickets at lowest rates directly from airlines. This extends our reach to most popular airlines, such as Azerbaijan Airlines and the other international carriers into the country.”

Having an in-depth understanding of Azerbaijan and surrounding countries, the Company prides itself in offering customers some interesting combination packages such as Azerbaijan-Georgia or Azerbaijan-Bosnia. The strong growth of Azerbaijan as a destination from the Middle East in the last year has also had an impact on the business for Start Travel. As Farid puts it, “this growth has influenced market share of Start Travel, as well, and its role in this field. Being an ambitious travel company, we have focused on the development of this sector while providing quality implementation of all our services.”

Farid is of the opinion that as a company they are constantly learning every day. In order to ensure customer retention, Start Travel has created and is implementing a customer survey to better understand their customer’s needs. This is in line with the country’s expectation wherein Azerbaijan, every guest is given an opportunity to complete separate feedback forms for every service provided.

Being based in Azerbaijan is advantageous considering that tourism is one of the fast-growing industry. Official statistics from State Statistics Committee report that a total of 1,203,700 foreigners from 139 countries visited the country from Jan – June 2017. This is 24.5% increase compared with the same period of 2016. Backed by this growth, Start Travel is optimistic of its own growth targeting more than a 25% increase from the Middle East market.  This is not just numbers but the target will be backed with a strategy focusing on price policy based on ability to swiftly react to market conditions. Improvement of the level of services, customer satisfaction priority, social media awareness thereby boosting the brand image of the company.

Plans are also underway to offer new products while discovering new destinations. This would be apart from strengthening the current Azerbaijan offering which still remains the main and much-wished destination. “Tourists from the Middle East also want to explore places such as Gabala, Quba, Shaki and Baku. We have also started to offer Gakh which is tranquil provincial town, located in the north of Azerbaijan. Gakh offers abundant nature and vast green land as it is not yet inundated with tourists,” explains Farid.