Tazkarty: one-stop-shop model for restaurant tables, events, hotels and clubs

Nick De MeyInternet & media

The entire MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) is still somewhat in turmoil. People’s hearts and minds are very much in politics, elections, democracy and the upcoming Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month. Let’s step back however and have a look at what is happening on the business playground of the region; more specifically how Tazkarty is thriving in the growing online shopping space.

While still quite behind the number of Western online shoppers (for example, in the UK 62% of internet users shop online), the recent survey of internet usage in the MENA region – conducted by Effective Measure and SpotOnPR with about 7,000 MENA internet users – has shown that three in ten purchase goods and services online. While the percentage might be low, the same survey claims, 32%-and-growing number of internet users, it still amounts to a market of more than 20 million online shoppers across the Arab world.

The rise of online shopping in MENA, and in Egypt in particular, is paralleled with all sorts of entertainment activities, meetups, concerts, receptions. But as residents or even tourists in Cairo – to take the Egyptian case – know, it’s often impossible or very hard to get into a trendy/nice club/disco or make reservation on a pre-weekend evening, unless one knows (has a telephone number of) the club’s owner or has a habit of tipping bouncers at the door.

Addressing a growing need provided by the growing volume of online booking/shopping among Egyptian users and the need for hassle-free, rapid and reliable booking, Tazkarty jumps in. It is fresh and juicy and does what is says – the word ”Tazkarty” means “my ticket” – by offering online tickets.

In an increasingly crowded online retail and shopping market in Egypt, featuring regional heavyweights such as the first group-buying site in the Arab world gonabit.com and local varieties including Egypt’s first online retailer e3050.com, the hybrid (print and online) specialized coupon outlet offers-plus.com, and quite successful Egyptian group-buying site darendeal.com, Tazkarty seems to have found itself a growing niche. Indeed, Tazkarty claims to be Egypt’s biggest and easiest-to-use online retailer for ticketed events and occasions. Using Tazkarty, you can book a table, spot or table in an event or location, be it a club, restaurant, party, cinema, or a hotel. Emulating websites such as Ticketsmarche.com, Tazkarty aims to be a one-stop-shop for people who want to avoid hassle and hurdles related to any organizational matter in Egypt.

Launched in 2009, Tazkarty, in addition to the standard expected (from that sort of a service) functionality of filling out an online reservation form, shows some innovative and fit-to-the-market mentality. To begin with, you can call their hotline number for online reservation. Whether a reservation is made via an online form or telephone, a Tazkarty customer service rep will contact you by email (or even call you) to confirm your booking.

With the well-known and established distrust of using credit cards in the MENA region, Tazkarty, like some other innovative regional firms, accept cash-on-delivery option of booked tickets “straight to your door”. Lastly, and yet another step towards satisfying even the most picky and ambitious, Tazkarty has partnership agreements with few firms where one can pass, show the email confirmation and pick the ticket from. Those, until now, include Diwan bookstore chain outlets in Cairo and Alexandria, as well as the Buddha Bar in Sofitel Cairo hotel and a couple of Mojo lounges around Cairo.

Not the least is that Tazkarty regularly reviews and ranks outlets and events listed on its website and filtering them out. Catering to international users, Tazkarty functions as a hybrid agence de voyage by having a dedicated team that helps to plan and book any event or activity on its website, ensuring a memorable trip to and activities in Egypt.

Thinking like a professional chess player, Tazkarty has now two sister websites, cairoscene.com and cairozoom.com. The former, cairoscene.com, is a “city calendar” with up-to-date information on locations, timing and other details of activities/events in Cairo, from parties to concerts to cultural events. The latter, cairozoom.com, is a community photography website where users upload photos from attended events concerts and parties, sharing opinions and experiences.

To its growing portfolio of services, Tazkarty plans to add discussion forums, an events blog for people to critically comment on parties and events, a shout box for people to post information and opinions, and, last but not least, a Blackberry mobile application. Its business model, while locally quite appealing, mainly generates revenues via online advertising on its own (and sister) websites.