When we spoke to Rahul Anand, founder of CamboTicket back in August, the online bus booking service had already firmly established themselves in the Mekong region as a reliable transport provider for not just Cambodia, but Thailand, Vietnam and Laos as well.
At that time, CamboTicket had also amassed notable media coverage on publications like the Phnom Penh Post, The Financial Times and e27. What’s more, they also earned a spot on the coveted Forbes Asia Under 30 list.
Fast forward to December, the company racked up yet another milestone, as they were one of two Cambodian teams to be nominated for the ASEAN ICT Awards. Eventually, the company walked away with the bronze award.
On top of this award, CamboTicket has also embarked on a collaboration with Friends International, a social enterprise looking to build the futures of the most marginalised children and youths in South East Asia and the world.
To find out more about CamboTicket’s plans for 2017, their new initiatives and what this award means to them, Geeks in Cambodia sat down for a chat with Ricardo Balmori from CamboTicket.
The following interview has been edited for clarity, language and flow.
How has CamboTicket developed in the past year?
Ricardo(R): Well its been really interesting. First off, we’ve grown a team. Last year we were a team of 4, now we’re a team of 8. Basically, it’s all been part of the overall growth of the company. Now that we’re bigger, we’ve been able to expand into different categories of transport as well. We launched the private taxi service in July and we’re trying to grow into providing services for as many transport types as we can.
What are some significant achievements that CamboTicket has had in the past year?
R: I guess achievements can come even through everyday customer service, like a certain message that you have to reply nicely to, I think that’s something that we look to build on day by day. But perhaps the most significant achievement was last weekend when we were awarded the bronze award at the ASEAN ICT Awards in Brunei. I think this is a recognition of how far we’ve come and of course, it’s also good to have recognition from the wider community.
What does the award mean for CamboTicket?
R: I think it signals that we are on the right path, that we’re making a difference not only in Cambodia but in the whole region too. It also helps us stay motivated because we know there’s a lot of work ahead but we know that we are doing it well. And of course, it doesn’t mean we get complacent about what we are doing. Especially because we have 8 employees, we can’t be thinking we are doing an 8-5 job, we have to be constantly thinking about how to make it better.
In terms of the private taxi booking system, how does it work?
R: Well, it’s exactly what we do with buses and ferries. It just makes it a lot easier for tourists to find drivers who are “legit”. I guess it streamlines the services into one platform where the users can then book it by clicking on 2 buttons and take advantage of the good prices as well.
One of the things CamboTicket has embarked on is a collaboration with Friends International, can you tell us a little more about that?
R: In our name, we have “Cambo” which is Cambodia and we thought about how the country’s tourism sector is also growing. And when the tourists come, they see a lot of poor children on the streets and we noticed that some of them want to help. So, we thought we could help spread the word for NGOs like Friends International.
From there, we asked ourselves what we could offer and we realised it was really easy for us to use our systems to spread the word to the tourists. With that in mind, we met with Friends International and it was really easy to work with them.
Now, as part of this collaboration, there’s a donation option on our website and with every booking, you’ll get an option to donate to Friends International as well, whether it’s $2 or $100. On top of that, all our emails give the receivers the option to donate too.
Can you give us a preview into what’s coming up for CamboTicket in 2017?
R: There’s not so much that I can reveal but I guess you know, we’re going to be working a lot on the taxi part of it, so expect it to go really far. And we’re working with more and more bus and ferry companies who are offering cheaper prices as well. So we’ll definitely keep signing more companies to offer users more options. Also, we’re selling software to the companies which will allow bookings to be made instantly.
Essentially, expect us to be more and more modern in 2017 and as we become more modern, hopefully the transportation system in Cambodia will become more modern as well.
How do you hope to see CamboTicket impact Cambodia in 2017?
R: I think we hope to see that our service will push companies to compete, to push them to provide better services. In this way, we hope to reduce the number of bad experiences that people have in this country. That’s why we think CamboTicket is really important for Cambodia because it allows a point of comparison between prices. From there, hopefully we’ll be able to see an increase in quality in services that transport companies provide and that eventually, there will be an improvement to the transportation infrastructure as well.
That was our chat with Ricardo Balmori from CamboTicket. We congratulate CamboTicket for flying Cambodia’s flag high at the ASEAN ICT Awards and cannot wait to see how this online booking platform will impact the transport infrastructure of Cambodia.