Defined as the analysis, design, implementation and application of IT and e-commerce solution to the Travel and Tourism industry; e-Tourism has undergone an evolution throughout the new century. From Online Booking Portals, Online Travel Agencies, revolutionary Travel Apps, new technologies in Customer Relationship Management and Online Mobile Payment, the industry can only look ahead to a better year. The only limiting factors coming in form of natural catastrophes and human-wildlife conflicts.
The impact of technology on African businesses cuts across various sectors such as e-commerce, banking, and telecommunications to name a few. One sector that has been overlooked in the whole of Africa is tourism. Not too long ago, hotel booking and reservation were mostly done at the hotel reception during check-in. This traditional system received a worth-of-note facelift to some extent when the use of GSM mobile phones and email penetrated the continent at the turn of the millennium. Today, hotel booking has been simplified to a mouse click on the World Wide Web; prompting hotel contacts followed by an introductory call or email. The impact of this technology at this point offered some opportunities for hotels to increase sales, new challenges also emerged that hampered the new-found system. Lack of added services such as ease of payment (Online or Mobile Money) and hotel booking portals meant that hotels were often forced to cancel a good amount of these bookings when payments were either not made in good time or another client willing to pay cash showed up at the hotel’s reception. Finally, the evolution gave way to online booking portals and with it came the new frontier; e-tourism.
The preceding years has seen Travel trends move from conventional systems to register a massive shift into e-tourism; as it stand 51% of Travel is now taking place online. From searches, bookings, ticket buying and price comparisons. “We are optimistic this vertical trajectory growth will not recede” Says Estelle Verdier Managing Director of Jovago East and South Africa, “steadily, e-tourism is gaining the customer’s confidence and catching up with the rest of the e-commerce industry. We are looking ahead to a better year, the only impeding factors being human-wildlife conflicts and natural calamities” She concluded.
Over the years several indigenous hotel booking portals have emerged, most of which are limited to one or two countries mostly as a result of lack of funding. The sub-sector has also attracted huge foreign investment that has created jobs and enabled many more hotels in Africa global visibility. Now a business traveller in Africa can book accommodation in any hotel in multiple states and countries on just one hotel booking portal. This is the case for one Mr Francois whose review on Trustpilot – an online review platform says it all.
The mentioned hotel booking portal; Jovago.com is an online hotel booking service headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, and founded by Africa Internet Holding and has MTN as one of the investors. Jovago facilitates the booking process for its users by providing them with value added services such as LiveChat with Customer Service team and various online payment avenues. The platform has over 10,000 local hotel listings across Africa and over 200,000 hotels around the world.
The impact of this is from navigating borders across Africa with your accommodation sorted out at the click of a button on a single portal; you have the convenience of paying before or after arrival. For instance, a tourist with a plan to visit Lagos Nigeria for a week, spend the next week in Nairobi Kenya and later head to Zanzibar Tanzania can simply rely on a the portal to book hotels in these 3 different countries at once. This has been made possible by advancements in technology and an ever growing internet penetration in Africa.