Interview with Mohib Hassan — COO, Sastaticket.pk
Mohib Hassan is the COO at Sastaticket.pk, and in his current role, Mohib is responsible for establishing Sastaticket.pk as the leading online travel website in Pakistan. Previously, Mohib has held various positions such as Executive Director at Pizza Hut, and Co-Founder at several international startups, amongst other roles where he has often been responsible for leading the company’s strategic direction, financial revival, technical innovations, and a renewed focus on stellar customer experiences.
Mohib has extensive experience creating new products, solving customer pain points, and operating businesses of various sizes in multiple industries ranging from insurance to food to the travel industry. He is a mathematics and actuarial science graduate from the University of Edinburgh and Boston University.
Following are the edited excerpts of a recent conversation Pakistan & Gulf Economist had with him:
PAGE: What inspired you (ST) to initiate a travel booking platform in Pakistan?
Mohib Hassan: The founders have been stalwarts of the travel industry for 3 decades and were inspired by a vision of a different future for Pakistanis where travel booking was as easy as a few taps on the screen. You must remember that in 2016 when the brothers, Bilal and Shazil founded the company the travel e-commerce landscape was pretty barren.
PAGE: Which is the most used mode of leisure transport in Pakistan as per your platform’s booking stats? Airline or buses?
Mohib Hassan: Our customers are Pakistanis from all walks of life who not only use airline tickets, which form the bulk of our business, but increasingly bus tickets as well.
PAGE: Explain about new Bus vendors ST just took on board?
Mobib Hassan: Recently we have added almost a dozen new vendors for our customers to book bus tickets on. These include Sadabahar, Balochistan’s largest bus company along with a host of other providers like Faisal Movers & Bilal Travels to name a few. These collaborations have, for the first time in Pakistan’s history, brought routes to/from Balochistan and routes within Sindh, to the online ticketing space. We are truly excited to be working alongside our partners in such a historic collaboration which promises to change the bus experience for travellers in Pakistan.
PAGE: Where are the most famous foreign destinations for which travelers book tickets?
Mohib Hassan: Most Pakistanis love traveling to the Middle Eastern countries of UAE, Saudi Arabia and a collection of GCC countries. Recently Turkiye is also becoming a popular destination for Pakistanis.
PAGE: What has been the trend of bus travel in Pakistan amid the rise of alternative modes of transportation in Pakistan? Can you share some stats in this regard?
Mohib Hassan: Bus travel has always been a mainstay for Pakistanis. Recently more of the available inventory has become available online which presents an exciting opportunity for us to provide such customers with a world class experience. To give you an idea Pakistan has upwards of 100+ bus terminals, over 2000+ buses running every day with major providers like Daewoo and Faisal Movers heavily present in Punjab and Sindh. There are other big providers in Balochistan and KPK as well with multiple terminals assisting 10s of thousands of bus passengers daily.
PAGE: What are the most popular bus routes in Pakistan as per booking frequency from your website?
Mohib Hassan: The most popular bus routes in Pakistan have been the Lahore-Islamabad corridor along with Faisalabad-Lahore.
PAGE: How has Sastaticket.pk helped make bus and air travel more accessible in Pakistan?
Mohib Hassan: Sastaticket.pk has been at the forefront of improving customer experience when it comes to travel booking since 2016. Over the years we have assisted millions of Pakistanis in booking bus and air travel online for the first time via our website and mobile apps. In fact our host of services such as 24/7 call centre, a wide range of payment options and a strong focus on improving customer experiences have all contributed to providing our customers with the best in class service and experience.
PAGE: In what way is Sastaticket.pk different from its competitors?
Mohib Hassan: At Sastaticket.pk we have a single focus, to help make travel bookings easy. To that end almost all of our team members are madly in love with travel and this gives us a unique edge, travelers solving problems for fellow travellers. It is not just our focus and investment in our people that makes us stand out but also our stellar customer service which has been delighting customers by solving their problems over email, call, chat & whatsapp. We also offer unique products such as Free Cancellation & Date Change to help reduce the financial burden on our customers in case they face unforeseen circumstances.
We see the fruits of such a singular focus on solving customer problems in our reviews and our NPS (Net Promoter Scores) are consistently & considerably higher than the biggest travel companies in the world.
PAGE: How Sastaticket.pk impacted the travel industry in Pakistan and what in your opinion is the future of travel amid rising fuel cost amid increased fares?
Mohib Hassan: Sastaticket.pk has assisted the travel industry by making the industry’s offering more accessible to many more travelers while providing an experience unmatched by our offline competitors. In fact the industry has largely been offline to date and is shifting at an increasing pace towards digital adoption.
Despite rising fuel costs and a consequent increase in fares for certain travel experiences (flights, buses etc), we still expect to see a growth in the portion of the industry going online. The future of online travel is strong in Pakistan as travelers will be looking to experience new travel experiences such as sleeper buses, low cost airlines and routes which have never been available online before. Furthermore with money saving products such as Free Cancellation & Date Change? We foresee our offline competitors coming across some tough competition in the near and distant future.
PAGE: How do you ensure a safe and seamless experience for Sastaticket.pk users amid rising online fraud and theft?
Mohib Hassan: Fraud has been a major concern for travelers and travel agents especially in the online world. We have put together strong operational procedures with communications with the Cyber Crime division of the FIA to take action against miscreants who do engage in fraud.
To augment our already existing internal processes, our payment processing vendors and finance team keep a close eye on potentially fraudulent transactions and work closely with our banking partners to prevent such cases.
PAGE: What steps have you taking to make travel booking convenient for both resident and non-resident travellers?
Mohib Hassan: To make travel booking easy for Pakistanis abroad and domestically we have made several major investments in our call centre infrastructure to assist customers from around the world in resolving their problems, carefully introduced features that make our customer journey seamless and delightful such as Whatsapp ticket integrations, seat selections, money saving add ons and fare options, expanded the various available airlines & bus routes/providers and instant refunds amongst many other carefully selected interventions.
PAGE: What are your future plans? Can you share some details?
Mohib Hassan: We will continue in our mission to empower our customers to travel and experience the world by ensuring that we provide the best in class customer service, introduce new interventions to the common problems being faced by Pakistanis when traveling and of course continue to invest in our team members, the life blood of Sastaticket.pk.
At Sastaticket.pk we are constantly discovering ways to expand the industry and will continue to bring experiences previously offline to our online customers, enable and assist our partnering providers in their ability to improve their offerings, and enable & empower our customers to experience travel like never before by simply making their travel bookings easy and seamless.
We have some exciting new products and interventions in the pipeline such as additional credit based payments options, new add ons and features to help our customers with avoiding financial ambiguity amongst many more interventions planned for this year.