obilet.com, Turkey’s premier online travel ticketing platform, is set to enjoy rapid growth in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Having just acquired its arch-rival Biletall, Obilet is forecast to sell more than 20 million tickets in 2021 – up from 8 million in 2020 – and close out the year with $300 million GMV.
Thanks to its unique offerings and innovative business model, the Istanbul-based travel-tech firm is now poised to expand its geographic reach amid an expected post-Covid global recovery.
SaaS-Powered Business Model
Already known throughout the region for its enormously popular ticket-booking app, Obilet’s primary distinction lies in its SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) powered business model. Obilet, invested in by EarlyBird and EBRD, provides bus operators with a best-in-class Ticket Management System (TMS) featuring 24/7 technical support. The company thereby creates a “lock-in effect” for its business operations on the supply side.
By distributing its portfolio of bus operators using its SaaS to other online ticketing platforms on a revenue-sharing basis, Obilet adds additional revenue streams on top of its lucrative B2C sales.
One of the world’s top-10 platforms for online bus and flight tickets, obilet.com saw remarkable growth in the pre-Covid-19 2016-2019 period, boasting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 77%.
Biletall Buyout Cements Leading Position
Earlier last month (July 12), Obilet cemented its regional position by acquiring Biletall, its chief B2C and B2B competitor, which since the 2000s had played a pioneering role in the digitalization of Turkey’s travel industry. Although Obilet stole the top spot from Biletall in 2016 on the B2C side, Biletall nevertheless retained its leading position at B2B coverage.
The acquisition will give Obilet 100% destination coverage in one of the world’s largest bus markets, and the biggest in Europe. Turkey’s intra-state bus market currently generates some 200 million ticket sales per year, corresponding to roughly $3 billion annually.
Currently, more than 300 bus operators compete in this highly fragmented market, which remains largely unconsolidated despite the 2019 acquisition of the country’s largest domestic bus operator by Flix.
Plans for Expansion in Post-Covid Era
Obilet now is equipped with plug-and-play B2B and SaaS solutions to be offered to both operators and online/offline ticket resellers in neighboring countries, where there is huge revenue potential for the Turkish start-up.
Obilet’s vastly enhanced market share, coupled with rising travel demand in the post-Covid era, is expected to yield 40 million ticket sales in 2022 and a GMV of over $500 million. Company officials even suggest that, as Obilet gradually expands into fresh markets, annual GMV could reach as much as $1 billion within the next few years.