Chea Langda is a candidate in the second season of ABC beverage’s “The Exceptional” campaign, which aims to share the stories of 10 Cambodians who have both dared to dream and achieved the success they desired.
The programme seeks to inspire the younger generation to grab the opportunity to become the kind of exceptional people that the public recognises and admires.
Langda is the founder and CEO of BookMeBus, an online travel platform that provides bookings for multiple transportation types including buses, trains, ferries, and taxis across Cambodia, and even beyond the borders.
The platform also provides private taxi services for travelers in the 25 provinces and capital and neighboring countries Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.
His own experiences were the inspiration for the business. As a student, he regularly travelled between the capital and his homeland by private bus.
“It was difficult. If I wanted to buy a ticket, I had to go to the bus depot. Sometimes, I would wait for hours for a bus to arrive. Other times, the bus would not depart until it was full, which wasted a lot of time,” he said.
“I am Khmer, and I was tired of traveling like this, wasting a lot of time and never sure when a bus was actually going to depart. Imagine how frustrating it could be for a foreign traveler who does not speak Khmer! Because I was studying computer science, I decided to try and build a platform that would simplify the whole process,” he added.
Although the website – and its dedicated app – are considered widely successful, he still encounters obstacles. As customer demand has increased, Langda has encountered minor issues with one of his apps most popular features – seat allocation.
“We have to call many of the bus companies the second a customer books through us – many of them are still using a pen and paper to record allocated seats,” he said.
“I am in the process of developing a digital solution to this. If I can convince all of our partners to adopt an automated system, I think the process will become smoother,” he added.
BookMeBus currently partners with about 30 bus, ferry and taxi operators, making it one of the most popular platforms in the Kingdom.
What makes him even more proud is that BookMeBus has become more than a business. In addition to helping tourists, it provides opportunities, knowledge and work experience to young people.
“Young people should try to gain as much work experience as they can, even in school. Work teaches us a lot and provides important experiences that we can gain from and use in the future. The important thing is to not be afraid to make mistakes. Learn from them, and don’t repeat them, but don’t punish yourself for making them in the first place.
Langda’s vision for the future is to expand his business by adding other services related to travel to make it even more convenient for travelers.