Ankur Thakuria is a globetrotting millennial who has been instrumental in driving growth at the last-minute mobile ticket platform’s APAC & ME region. Team DRW® tells us more.
By Team DRW®
iqets is an e-commerce platform that connects travelers with instant, last-minute, mobile tickets to top museums and attractions around the world. In 2014, the Netherlands-based online booking platform’s founder Luuc Elzinga embarked on a mission to make it easier for travelers to experience the best museums and attractions worldwide.
Since then, the ticketing platform has amassed more than 4,000 partners, and sold more than 28 million tickets globally, thereby making “culture more accessible.” Tiqets raised $60 million in a Series C round led by travel giant Airbnb in 2019 and continues to bring top investors on board.
This is as post-pandemic travel demand continues to grow. More than 100 countries have lifted all pandemic travel restrictions. No test; no form – which is great news across markets. And as Ankur Thakuria, Regional Director for the APAC & ME region of Tiqets says, “The rebound in travel is very natural.”
“Tiqets,” he continues, “being one of the leading online travel agencies (OTAs) in the tours, attractions, and activities space, has always been at the forefront of evolving better offerings for our customers and partners alike. Throughout the pandemic, Tiqets’ value proposition as a technology and marketing partner for venues really helped many of our partners go online and capture the customers who were now looking to have the entire experience of booking admission tickets within a few clicks on their phones.”
Versailles Gardens. Versailles, France. Photo: Tiqets
As Thakuria points out, the UAE leads the MENA region on the platform; and since restrictions have been lifted, demand for Tiqets has increased monthly, post-pandemic; and the uptick in sales continues unabated. In fact, compared to January 2022, the number of orders in Dubai has grown more than 100%, and the trend will continue to hold for this month as well.”
“Over the last couple of years, the UAE has been quite an attractive tourist market; and being one of the first countries to open up their borders during the pandemic efficiently, the market benefitted quite a lot.”
So, what’s the story behind the Tiqets phenomenon in the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions?
Thakuria’s wanderlust began when he was 12 years old. Now 30, the Indian native has more than 50 countries under his belt. It should come as no surprise, then, that his most recent notch will be—wait for it—Antarctica. He is currently responsible for brand expansion and growth for the Asia Pacific and Middle East region; he also oversees strategic partnerships for Tiqets in the area.
Ankur Thakuria: Photo: Instagram
When Ankur joined Tiqets in late 2017 to look after its foray into Southeast Asia, Singapore, and Hong Kong were the first to sign on. Before assuming his current role, Ankur launched Tiqets into several key Southeast Asia and Oceania markets. Thakuria took the knowledge he gained when building his startup, while also working for another OTA during the early days of his career, and molded that into the market’s growth, which he’s responsible for, at Tiqets. Thakuria’s strength, however, lies in building scalability into the business model, directly impacting online e-ticket market share for the region.
This would make sense given that the online event ticketing market was valued at $143.92 billion in 2021; the event tickets segment in the UAE is projected to reach $246.10m this year alone; and this, in part, may have contributed to Tiqets’ recent boon in sales.
“Every destination has its specific reasons to visit. Tiqets will support its customers to get the most out of their trips by providing the best selection of experiences within these categories.”
One of the biggest attractions generating a lot of buzz at the moment is the Inside Burj Al Arab Tour in the UAE. Thakuria notes that Tiqets customers have “shared glowing reviews”, and that “the number of orders has continued to grow month on month; compared to October 2022, orders have grown by a staggering 700% in January 2023.”
Duomo Cathedral. Duomo, Milano. Italy. Photo: Tiqets
Among many firsts, Tiqets recently unveiled a free e-book to help museums improve visitor experiences. The online platform for cultural and leisure experiences has also gone one step further for that last-minute customized experience by bringing in artificial intelligence (AI) tools. In February this year, Tiqets partnered with Runnr.ai’s conversational AI solution to offer travelers personalized experiences, which enables hotel guests to ask questions, make requests, and book additional services from their mobile phones.
Lesson: a new era of travel is upon us, and providers like Tiqets are looking to offer rare, unforgettable experiences. And after being unable to travel for almost three years, today’s travelers are spending more time with family, more time visiting attractions, and museums, and taking tours in destinations where cities speak to the interests of their tourists. Tiqets has somehow figured out what it takes to get the visibility of its business needs and created genuine interest in the travel and tourism industry.
Miracle Gardens. Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Tiqets
“Over the years,” Thakuria says, “the team in the region has continued to grow and so has my journey with Tiqets. Today, I lead our efforts across the whole of the APAC & ME region with our teams based in regional offices and the HQ in Amsterdam. I took over my current role as the Regional Director, APAC & ME in Jan 2022 and it’s been quite an amazing ride so far.”