Interview with Noam Toister, CEO and Founder at Transport Booking Site: Bookaway

Bookaway is an online ground and sea transportation booking platform that connects tourists with local suppliers worldwide, expanding customer networks to create a more positive experience for those exploring new corners of the world.

We eradicate any uncertainties or anxieties of travel by providing customers with in-depth details about each route’s service, comprehensive descriptions, reviews from other travellers and access to a 24/7 support system.

We’re proud to say our mantra is “By travellers, for travellers”.

This year we launched the Bookaway Group, the world’s first global ground and sea transportation group. We’ve teamed up with likeminded business to unite operators around the world and work collaboratively, opening up access to even more transport routes. Together we offer more than 100,000 routes in 14,600 cities, with plans to expand further.
About Bookaway | Experience the liberation of travel

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

The very first idea of Bookaway came to me when I was on honeymoon in the Philippines and wanted to get from Manila to Banaue to see the magnificent rice terraces. To my surprise, I couldn’t find any available bus tickets, lost a day of my honeymoon and was told to wait two days until the next available bus ride.

It soon became clear there was a major circuit break in the online travel booking process and I thought, “there must be a better way to do this”.

It all spiralled from there and Bookaway was launched in 2017 with my friends and business partners, David Yitzhaki and Omer Chehmer. Seeing the gap in this $157bn complex and fragmented market – where 95% of operations are still offline – we set ourselves the task to modernise and digitise sea and ground transportation booking.

In just four years, Bookaway has grown from a start-up operating out of a café to a united network of major players in the ground transportation industry.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

The travel industry was arguably one of the worst-hit by the pandemic and, as with many other businesses, was a difficult period for us. However, not wanting to sit back and wait, we decided to take matters into our own hands.

The pandemic ignited an ambition to unite some of the world’s leading brands in the face of adversity, to ensure we not only survived but came out even stronger.

Sharing our vision with global investors, we raised $35m from a Series B funding round – securing a total of $46m since launch. We pride ourselves on our relationship with like-minded investors who share our values, including Elad Kushnir, who has supported Bookaway from the outset, and companies Aleph (one of the first investors in WeWork and House Party), Corner Ventures and Entrée Capital.

Leading operators Getbybus (headquartered in Croatia offering routes across the Balkans and Western Europe) and 12Go (headquartered in Southeast Asia, operating in more than 6,000 destinations) are the first to join to the Bookaway Group – meaning we now reach even more corners of the globe by working together. By sharing valuable experience and expertise, we can all help each other to grow.

What can we hope to see from Bookaway in the future?

The Bookaway Group is dedicated to supporting local suppliers in developing countries to get back on their feet and prosper again. By working as one to better the travel industry and grow together through technology, we aim to bring even more businesses online to connect them with customers – who may previously have lost out if travellers opted for hotel transport or private taxis due to lack of awareness of the transportation available.

Our vision is to become the go-to transportation booking platform and make travel seamless, which is incredibly important as restrictions ease in the wake of the pandemic and people feel confident to explore even more of the world again. We particularly look to gain more opportunities and expand our customer base further across Asia, the USA and South America.

Thanks to our partnerships within the Bookaway Group, we are looking forward to joining forces with even more successful businesses that complement our mission, to share resources and skills.