• ‘Welcome to the World’ aims to solve problem of high commissions paid to OTAs
  • Touted as ‘YouTube for tourism’, the site drives commission-free direct bookings
  • ‘SmartGuide’ and ‘Road.Travel’ placed second and third, respectively

‘Welcome to the World’ has been named the first ever winner of the ATM Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition, which saw a selection of the region’s most innovative travel and tourism start-ups deliver pitches on the ATM Travel Tech Stage for the chance to secure up to $500,000.

A total of 15 finalists gave presentations in front of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2022’s five-strong panel of industry judges, including: Alaa Ismail Al Haija, Founder and CEO of AladdinB2B, SalesMENA and the Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition; Hadi Saeed AlShakhori, Business Incubation Manager at Wa’ed; Walid Tarabih, Founder and CEO of PLATX, and former advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office of the UAE; Matthew Gardiner, Founder of A1 AI; and Bashar Sami El-Khasawneh, Associate Professor at Khalifa University.

The judges assessed pitches from a range of start-ups, which – in addition to ‘Welcome to the World’ – included AirportAssist.com, Elves, Gauvendi, Hotailors, Lykos, Octoos, OnArrival, Road.Travel, SmartGuide, SLF, S-Rate, Teamatix, Telgani and Travelexic.

‘Welcome to the World’ aims to solve the problem of high rates of commission charged by online travel agencies (OTA). Described by Founder and CEO Stefanie Schachtschabel as ‘YouTube for tourism’, the platform enables tourism businesses and travel influencers to drive direct bookings commission-free by sharing videos.

Commenting after the presentation of her award and cheque, Schachtschabel said: “We are obviously very happy. We have been working hard to reach where we are today and having the confidence of so many investors mean the world to us. So how do I feel? Happy, that’s for sure!

“We are in the midst of our seed round, which means we are onboarding investment. These funds will be used to build in state-of-the-art technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to monetise our data, and also to scale our business to the 48 destinations that we are currently targeting,” she added.

‘Welcome to the World’ currently boasts more than 185,000 monthly users, having already attracted brands such as Anantara Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Accor, Address Hotels + Resorts, W Hotels, Radisson Blu and Ritz-Carlton Dubai. The investment gained as part of the first ever ATM Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition follows $264,000 already secured as part of the firm’s pre-seed round.

After taking first place at the ATM Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition, ‘Welcome to the World’ will now have the opportunity to compete for a further $500,000 of investment as part of hit TV show, Meet the Drapers.

Digital tour guide platform ‘SmartGuide’ and route marketplace ‘Road.Travel’ came in second and third place, respectively.

Commenting on the aims of the competition, AladdinB2B’s Alaa Ismail Al Haija said: “I’m an entrepreneur myself so I know what it means to have a dream to be successful. The most important thing is to be supported and to feel that you are not alone. That’s why we are seeing so much support for entrepreneurs in Dubai today. This ecosystem is the most important thing and I’m fortunate to be contributing a little part of it.”

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME for Arabian Travel Market, said: “The ATM Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition is a fantastic initiative, which we believe will act as a springboard for innovative travel and tourism companies that are working to reshape our industry for the better. I would like to offer my congratulations to all of the finalists and in particular to Stefanie and the rest of the Welcome to the World team.”

On the ATM agenda today, (Wednesday 11 May), SaaS specialist Atlas will host a panel of experts, who will share insights into how data is changing airline retailing. Moderated by Brian Staunton, Atlas’s Chief Commercial Officer, speakers will include Ashish Kumar, Director Commercial – Flights Booking at Wego Middle East; Mary Li, Founder and CEO of Atlas; and Yong, Chief Solution Architect at Alibaba Cloud MEA (ATM Travel Tech Stage).

For full details of the ATM 2022 programme, including topics, organisers and participant bios, visit https://www.wtm.com/atm/en-gb/whats-on/atm-conference-programme.html#/sessions.


About Arabian Travel Market (ATM)

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 29th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2021 showcased over 1,300 exhibiting companies from 62 countries across nine halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, with attendees from more than 110 countries over the four days. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #ATMDubai

Next in-person event: Monday 9 to Thursday 12 May 2022, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai https://www.wtm.com/atm/en-gb.html

Next virtual event: Tuesday 17 to Wednesday 18 May 2022

About Arabian Travel Week

Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2022. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ATM Virtual, ILTM Arabia, ARIVAL Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, as well as Travel Tech. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country summits.


About RX (Reed Exhibitions)

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face to face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. www.rxglobal.com


RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

*Note: Current market capitalisation can be found at http://www.relx.com/investors

About World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents. The events are:

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. The show facilitates business connections for the global (leisure) travel community. Senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating travel industry contracts.

Next live event: Monday 7 to 9 November 2022 at ExCel London


WTM Latin America takes place annually in the city of São Paulo and attracts around 20,000 tourism professionals during the three-day event. The event offers qualified content together with networking and business opportunities. In this its ninth edition – there have been eight face-to-face events along with a 100% virtual one, which was held in 2021 – WTM Latin America continued to focus on effective business generation, and achieved the advance booking of six thousand meetings that were held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors in 2022.

Next event: Tuesday 4 to Thursday 6 April 2023 – Expo Center Norte, SP, Brazil


WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.  In 2022, WTM Africa facilitated more than 7 thousand unique pre-scheduled appointments, an increase of more than 7% compared to 2019 and welcomed more than 6 thousand visitors (unaudited), the same number as in 2019.

Next event: Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 April 2023 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town http://africa.wtm.com/

About ATW Connect:  Africa Travel Week’s digital arm, is a virtual hub packed to the seams with interesting content, industry news and insights, and the opportunity to hear from experts on a variety of topics in our new monthly webinar series. All with the aim to keep all of us in the travel and tourism industry connected. ATW Connect focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology.


WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub. https://hub.wtm.com/

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