Start-Up to Offer Personalised Itineraries for FIFA World Cup 2022 Visitors
Visitors travelling to the region for next year’s FIFA World Cup 2022 will have the option to personalise their travel itineraries through ViaVii – a Jordan-based online venture that promises travellers a more meaningful cultural experience hosted and curated by citizens and residents of Qatar.
ViaVii, an online platform accessible through viavii.com, will soon be available as a mobile application for download through Apple and Google app stores. It is a hyper-personalised platform where sightseers can explore and book genuine in-destination travel experiences that are adjustable on-the-move, and can connect with residents of Qatar at any time.
Among its many features, ViaVii will provide opportunities for visitors to experience traditional Qatari food, enjoy the local arts scene, hear captivating stories of tradition and heritage, spend the night in the desert, and partake in heritage walking tours.
In addition, a digital dashboard was also developed for hosts allowing them to freely add experiences and communicate with travellers – and it is the first to use the Arabic language in its user interface, which is crucial for the region’s tourism indicators. All these combined make ViaVii completely unique and different from what other competitors offer.
Digital itinerary planner for the World Cup
ViaVii will launch another key feature for their online platform this summer – a digital itinerary planner for the World Cup tournament. Integrated into several websites in Qatar, including that of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, it will ensure that the focus of all travel-related entities in Qatar is to offer fans a personalised authentic experience. ViaVii’s team believes this technology will address what travellers will seek during their time visiting the region.
Rola Fayyad, ViaVii’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer, said that the need to create this platform came from the fact that most people travelling to the Middle East did not fully experience everything the region has to offer.
She said that people these days have become more aware of the real value of travel that goes beyond just sightseeing and attractions; they prefer being exposed to different cultures, languages and cuisines, all while meeting new and interesting people.
Our main goal is to connect people in the most meaningful of ways. For that reason, all the experiences available on our platform are designed and hosted by amazing residents of a community who are eager to share their culture and talents with travellers.
Fayyad said it’s a win/win situation for both the curious travellers and the hosts. To date, ViaVii offers more than 3,500 ready-to-buy immersive digitally delivered experiences, of which only 20% are currently active due to COVID-19-related lockdowns.
ViaVii’s story began in September 2016, when they were founded under the name ‘Friendture’. It was then a mobile application for group travellers to plan and organise their trips together. However, having been in the travel industry for more than a decade, Fayyad was able to gain a solid understanding of travellers’ needs – all of which helped her identify some major gaps in the industry – which prompted her to start ViaVii in 2019.
The start-up received a seed investment from the Tech Venture Fund (TVF) that is managed by Qatar Science and Technology Park, part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI). It was aimed specifically at supporting innovative local start-ups and attracting international start-ups to the region.
FIFA World Cup 2022
With the FIFA World Cup 2022 scheduled to take place in Qatar in just 18 months, the deployment of TVF capital into a company that could help millions of visitors to Qatar next year – likely a large percentage for the very first time – is a welcome addition to the local ecosystem of this global sporting extravaganza, while also contributing to the diversification of the Qatari economy.
ViaVii – currently in the process of setting up an office in the QSTP Free Zone – received TVF backing after winning the Challenge 22 competition which was focused on enabling technologies and innovation for the upcoming FIFA World Cup tournament.
Landing an opportunity to serve hundreds of thousands of regional locals and fans making their way to Qatar to attend the first World Cup hosted in the region was something we simply could not pass up.
She added that with travellers now seeking a more meaningful way to experience a trip, predefined and fixed itineraries that travel agents offer are no longer needed. Travellers looking for an empathetic platform, with personalised user experience and authentic content designed and hosted by amazing locals, ultimately makes travel more purposeful. ViaVii provides just that.
Looking at the bigger picture and the significance of QSTP in their company’s progress, Fayyad said that finding the right funding is not an easy process.
During our journey, we always sought partners and not just a cheque. During my years fundraising, QSTP was the only investor, out of several, that focused on the team, rather than just a product, which is the reason start-ups succeed – the team behind them.
Fayyad said that this made them more confident and happier knowing that their partner really believes in who they are and their vision – adding that this mindset is not common in the region. She said they are excited for what the future holds, especially as they will be part of FIFA Qatar 2022.
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