With the digitalization of almost every industry in Pakistan, we tried to find out why the travel industry was lagging behind. Surely someone must have been trying to change that, and in our quest, we came across Heavenly Tours, an online tour booking website that lets people choose from a collection of trips and pilgrimage packages. With services that will soon extend to a mobile app, Heavenly Tours is working day and night with one goal in mind: Revolutionizing the conventional travel industry. We got a hold of their CEO, Mr. Hasaan Shahid Malik to discuss the struggles Heavenly Tours had to face and how far it has come in its journey to change how travel works in Pakistan. He himself being extremely passionate about everything related to I.T wanted to create a blend of travel and technology, which is still unique to Pakistan. We sat down and discussed his love for technology and it’s great applications on traveling.
ORANGE INK: The travel Industry might not be the conventional business choice, why the inclination towards travel then?
HASAAN MALIK: We wanted to make travel accessible to the general public. I had the idea of revolutionizing the whole travel agency through ecommerce. When we started, we made it clear that we will not get into the traditional travel industry and as a result we will be launching our travel app for both android and iOS really soon. Playing it safe doesn’t get you great changes, believing in yourself and taking the big step do.
ORANGE INK: What is Heavenly Tours’ motto?
HASAAN MALIK: The motto is to revolutionize travel. We are trying to impact the Pakistani travel industry and bring it, literally, into everyone’s grasp so anyone with a phone can start their dream journey today.
ORANGE INK: What were your hurdles in creating a company dedicated to that, especially in a place like Pakistan where the majority may not have an adequate understanding of the internet, and might not be able to afford travelling abroad? Also how does Pakistan’s perceived image play into context?
HASAAN MALIK: The trend right now is changing. People do have an understanding of how these things work. They’ve been using websites like bookings.com to aid them in travel but these websites don’t have a domestic setup. We will only be giving people a local setup that will be in competition with international standards. We are also providing really affordable packages so a larger chunk of the society can travel. As for Pakistan’s image, then I believe travelling plays a huge role in bringing people of different communities together, thus this in turn also aids Pakistan.
ORANGE INK: There’s also this chunk of people who have no substantial knowledge on how to use the internet. How do you cater to them?
HASAAN MALIK: For people who struggle with the cyber interface, we have established a physical office in Lahore so people can either come to our office or even just call us. Our representatives will listen to their requirements and propose an offer specifically customized for their needs. Customer satisfaction and inclusivity are our top priorities.
ORANGE INK: So your team plays a part in the whole process, what kind of team is Heavenly Tours made of?
HASAAN MALIK: The team is a mixture of experienced and fresh people. This is a tough job as it needs experience with a new perspective of everything. My travel consultants are experienced people who have adequate knowledge of places and deals whereas I try to bring Salesperson’s who have good PR.
ORANGE INK: Is your team as passionate as you?
HASAAN MALIK: Of course, they are extremely passionate. Heavenly Tours wouldn’t have had the status it has today if that weren’t the case. A company is dependent on the collective effort of the team and Heavenly Tours is extremely lucky in that regard. So yes, the team is every bit as passionate as me.
ORANGE INK: You have talked a lot about inclusivity, how do you cater to multigenerational and multiracial travelers?
HASAAN MALIK: We enlist the different requirements by embassies for both minors and adults. We also try to give out a diverse collection of travel packages to choose from, tailored for inclusivity. Our Umrah packages are being used by a variety of people, so we try to keep in mind everyone’s requirements. The trend is changing as everyone tries to travel now. We help people gain that experience by giving out a variety of packages to choose from.
ORANGE INK: What are some of your initial struggles? What will be your advice to anyone going through that struggle?
HASAAN MALIK: The struggle is far from over yet. I would say that the travel industry is a huge industry and, like our initial struggles, it gets extremely difficult to try to cover everything. I would tell people to start slow. The biggest initial problem was getting people to know about us but in order to overcome that we used extensive marketing and social media platforms.
ORANGE INK: What has kept you going for this long? What is the inspiration after all of this?
HASAAN MALIK: My absolute passion for IT has gotten me to this point. My love for technology and a drive to digitalize the travel industry has kept me going.
ORANGE INK: Would you call yourself a successful entrepreneur?
HASAAN MALIK: I would not (laughs). I am very far from what I think a successful entrepreneur is. I have a long way to go and a lot of things to learn before I can refer to myself as that. And I look forward to the journey.
So do we, Mr. Hasaan.