As plans for Vision 2030 accelerate, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is seeking to welcome 100 million overnight visitors annually by the end of the decade. Companies such as almatar, one of the largest and fastest growing online travel agencies (OTAs) in the Kingdom, will be vital to the success of the project.
The company signed a wide-ranging partnership with global travel technology leader, Amadeus, laying the foundation of innovation to support its ambitious growth plans. The company aims to expand to other Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (GCC) over the coming years as part of its mission to establish Saudi Arabia as a go-to tourism destination.
almatar is already considered a technology leader, having been the first to introduce ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ (BNPL) options so travelers can pay in a series of installments. The OTA is now reinforcing this position with a wide-ranging distribution and technology partnership with Amadeus.
The agreement sees almatar adopt Amadeus Quick Connect. A collection of three simple APIs for search, pricing and booking, the tool can retail the industry’s widest range of Full-Service Carrier (FSC), Low-Cost Carrier (LCC) and New Distribution Capability (NDC) content from more than 500 airlines through Amadeus. Content access extends to airline ancillary services, like meals and bags, so travelers can easily tailor their travel experience.
The new capabilities open a world of opportunity for almatar and its travelers. For example, the company now has the option to package combinations from both full service and low-cost airlines in a single itinerary. This helps travelers more easily find the journeys they need by combining the widest range of route and fare options.
Aimen Saleh B., Chief Executive and Co-Founder of almatar, said: “Tourism in Saudi Arabia is undergoing a substantial acceleration and our company is right at the heart of the process. Our partnership with Amadeus will help us capitalize on the new and exciting opportunities available to us as our partners at the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) work to further open the country to leisure travelers. With Amadeus’ support, we see significant opportunity to take our model beyond the Kingdom, beginning with other GCC states.”
Eng. Nashat Bukhari, General Manager, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Amadeus, commented: “This strategic partnership lays the foundation for a strong business relationship between Amadeus and almatar. Together both companies will drive innovation and growth within the travel services industry because of the shared pursuit of better technology to create better journeys. Vision 2030 is very close to our heart. The Kingdom has a lot of untapped and interesting destinations to offer international visitors. We at Amadeus are working hand in hand with some of the best travel partners to make this initiative happen.”
Building on its reputation as a fintech innovator, almatar is adopting Virtual Credit Cards (VCC) to facilitate its B2B payments. This sees the online travel agency process payment from travelers before making separate B2B payments to settle with suppliers like airlines. This makes payments a strategic business line with revenue opportunities. To achieve this new model, almatar will adopt Amadeus B2B Wallet allowing the OTA to pay each supplier for each individual booking using a specific VCC. Through this digital payment transformation, almatar will be able to reduce the cost of payments, build loyalty with its airline partners, and in turn incremental revenue, as well as simplify the payment reconciliation process.
Ziad Mehanna, Head of Online Travel, Amadeus, for Middle East and North Africa, added: “With its leading position in Saudi Arabia, almatar will be at the forefront of the growing leisure market in the country. The OTA is driving as much direct traffic as possible with initiatives like sponsoring Saudi Arabia’s leading football team. Our partnership means almatar can also use the Amadeus travel platform, which provides a better experience for travelers, and helps deliver more traffic to the website with higher levels of sales conversions using modern technology.”
When fully integrated, the Amadeus partnership will provide almatar with the tools it needs to begin a regional expansion, with a focus on key markets in Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt.