2-8 January 2015 #739

Cyber flights

Nepflights is the only website providing solely domestic flights booking in Nepal with five airlines
Elaine Wang Yiwei

After graduating in computer science from Tribhuvan University, Prakash Neupane worked as a software developer like many of his classmates.

But unlike them he wasn’t angling to migrate, he dreamt of staying in Nepal and starting his own software business. He saw an opportunity to combine the leapfrogging potential of smartphone apps and Nepal’s growing aviation industry.

“I had the idea of integrating all travel businesses, providing a single solution,” said Neupane who initially wanted flights, hotels, trekking, even bungee jumping and elephant rides. But after careful research, he decided to focus on domestic flights.

Nepflights is the only website providing solely domestic flights booking in Nepal with five airlines, four payment methods and up to 25 destinations.

At first none of the airlines were interested. Neupane changed tack and visited Flight Connection International, which came in as an investor and also brought the airlines.

Faced with a mature offline travel market and established customer behaviour, it was a slow start. Even today, over 90 per cent of travel agencies in Nepal do not have online booking access to the airline system and have to book tickets through phones. Of the 3,500 travel agencies in Nepal 270 are using the Nepflights system, but the number is growing.

With an ‘Agents’ section on its website, a travel agency can easily join the booking system. In fact, 95 per cent of Nepflights’ business comes from travel agencies in what is called ‘B2B’ (business-to-business). Nepflights receives a 6-9 per cent commission from airlines by providing a platform to sell tickets to travel agencies. Nepflights gives eight per cent of the commission to travel agencies.

The other model is called ‘B2C’ (business to customer) in which travelers book directly from their websites and pay either online via PayPal or Esewa or offline. Neupane hopes that most of his revenue will ultimately be B2C once he sorts out the online payment problem.

“We will be the Nepali version of Kayak for domestic flight in Nepal,” Neupane said. Kayak is the leading flight booking website internationally.

Although he decided to focus on the domestic market for the moment, Neupane always keep an eye on the bigger picture, and he is cashing in on the China market.

Asked where he sees himself in five years, the 25-year-old thinks for a while and says carefully: “We are going to be the platform for all travel-related businesses in Nepal.”

Read also:

What is app enning in Nepal

For Nepalis by Nepalis, Ganesh Acharya

Local goes global, Stéphane Huët

Game Guru in Nepal, Tsering Dolker Gurung

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