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Cozmo Travel: Charting Growth with Diversification

Jamal Abdulnazar, CEO of Cozmo Travel talks to Charmaine Fernz on the key to success, strategies and new growth opportunities….


Cozmo Travel commenced operations in Sharjah with humble beginnings in 2010 through a small office. The company was owned by the Air Arabia Group of Companies but was an independent business entity. The vision and mission on commencement was to be a regional player within three years of operations. The first focus area was the UAE especially in under-serviced areas like Sharjah, the Northern Emirates and even Abu Dhabi. There was good opportunity for a retail agency.

In 2011, we expanded our presence in Dubai and once we are strong in the UAE market, we looked beyond. The same year saw the Qatar office open and the expansion spree continued. In 2012, we opened our office in Saudi Arabia, followed by Kuwait and Bahrain in 2013 and 2014. In 2016, our target was the India market.

As a company, we are very much a legacy offline agency but also have a strong online presence. Today, the company boasts over 750 people, more than 100 branches with global presence and AED 800 million turnover.


We had a very clear thought-process that we wanted to invest in our own technology. We did not want any dependence on third parties as we were aware that today, having the right technology is key for any business growth.

With current market conditions and shrinking margins, it was innovative technology that helped us grow our business. The deployment of the right solutions also led to improved efficiencies and cost, in turn improving the bottom-line. Cozmo Travel has its own IT division within the company.

Our IT department develops our in-house technology be it for back-office or mid-office operations or even our booking engine. We do not buy any technology. Our IT head along with his senior team of eight to 10 people are in Dubai while rest of the development team is based in Hyderabad, India. As a company, we have also taken the decision to move our back-office operations to Kochi, India.


Cozmo Travel as company is built by its people, technology and innovative business solutions. We killed barriers in the current market space and did things differently. We also took risks though calculated. As a company, we can confidently say, when we launched, we found opportunity when the market was down. Being aware of the business cycle, we have a clear growth plan in place. Our objective was to cater for the all categories of people – budget or luxury, across the FIT and corporate segment – the end target is fulfilling the customer needs.

The mantra for growth in any business is diversification and we were no different. The company has diversified into the car rental business. Sayara, our rent-a-car company based in Sharjah has almost 300 vehicles in its portfolio and caters to all the emirates. We have also ventured into the inbound business with the opening of our office in Guangzhou, China. The next focus area for Cozmo Travel is Africa.

We wanted to create a good travel network and are working in the right direction. Today, if we want to run a business in particular country, we are not dependent on a third party content, we have our own local content for all markets we operate. This is our advantageous point.

Market performance

The best performing markets for Cozmo Travel are undoubtedly the UAE, Qatar (which faced a dip this year) while KSA and Kuwait are getting stronger along with India. The India market has also seen expansion with our new office in Kolkata.


The road for Cozmo Travel has been challenging but fruitful. The initial days of setting up the company was all about building our brand presence and not being associated with any particular company. In terms of suppliers and airlines, it was being recognised for who we were. This took around six to eight months to gain pace and is now running smoothly coupled with growth.

The next was a general challenge faced by all in the industry which is fragmented content distribution. This put a lot of cost on our back office operations but is being streamlined at the moment with our own technology and third party system. Cash flow is another issue which are cleaning up and have now managed to handle it well.

Expansion strategy

Network expansion is on the cards for Cozmo Travel. We are looking into new technologies such as being on cloud or even mobile. We are on the constant look out for new opportunities. We certainly see potential in Africa especially in the next four to five years. We would look at concentrating on markets such as Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania. Connectivity to the continent has also improved and increase so it does open up more options.

We also see great potential in promoting our B2B platform – TravTrolley – in the Africa market. We already have some customers working from Africa with us here. For this platform, we will work as a technology provider as well as a travel agent.

The inbound market is growing; one of main reasons we opened offices in China and India. Both countries are big inbound markets for Dubai so there will be expansion by Cozmo in these countries. To cite an example, on any given day, our office in China handles around 200 people per day. Our aim now is to tap into the second tier cities in China.

In the MENA region, we would look at Oman, Egypt and many other potential markets. We are exploring opportunities at the moment.