An online travel booking company, Travelbeta, has officially launched in Lagos Nigeria. With over three branches across Nigeria, the company seeks to reduce the number of Nigeria’s offline booking customers by making online travel booking better.
Over the past 12 months, about 15 million people travelled out of Nigeria. International flights accounted for 9 million of those bookings with only 200,000 booking their flights online. Most Nigerian travelers are not aware that they can get cheaper flights online than in person. Due to this, Travelbeta was founded to help manage flight and hotel bookings. On their portal customers are able to check and compare available flight rates eliminating the need to check individual websites.
The founding team of this company is made up veterans in the online booking, marketing and technology space such as Onyeka Akumah the Chief Commercial Officer, Wale Ayorinde the Chief Technology Officer and David Asuku the Operations Manager. Wale has worked with several startups in Silicon Valley. Onyeka and David were part of the team who built wakanow.com which is now known as the biggest online travel portal in Africa. Onyeka has worked as the marketing head of Jumia and Konga which are both the leading e-commerce sites in Nigeria. He is also the owner of Anozim an online marketing platform.
Ventures Africa interviewed Onyeka Akumah the Chief Commercial Officer of travelbeta.com to find out the inspiration behind starting Travelbeta and more. Although Onyeka did not address competitor, Wakanow, there are speculations that this company could be a major competitor in the field of online flight bookings.
Ventures Africa (VA): What is the inspiration behind Travelbeta?
Onyeka Akumah (OA): Travelbeta is a company born out of a need. We did our research and found out that out of 9 million people that travelled out of the country in the past 12 months only 200,000 people used online travel agencies. We’ve come to see that there is a huge opportunity in the travel industry to make a difference in terms of getting people to travel better and make smarter decisions when they are deciding on where to go for a vacation. We also said to ourselves in order to be different, we have to build a company that will be the destination management company. The first thing was to get people to buy flight tickets, to buy hotel tickets and basic services. We don’t just want you to book a flight and hotel to ‘X-Y-Z’ destination, we want you to do it with such an experience that you will feel like it was heaven going through that organization.
VA: Do you think you would be able to beat other competitors in this market such as Wakanow?
OA: In terms of how we will beat them, I would not really say we are after wakanow. I think we want to make the experience for Nigerians better. Let Nigerians be the one to say who is beating who, that is not our focus. Our focus will be every costumer that comes into this place; we just want to make their travel experience a lot better than what they have had in Nigeria. For us we want our customers to tell us we are the best and that is all we are after.
VA: Are you in partnership with any other organization?
OA: Oh yes we are! Travelbeta is an aggregator site we pull in flights that can take people to over 900 destinations and over 300,000 hotels. We’ve gone into partnership with some of the best travel technology businesses to see how we can learn from them and continue improving on what we have in the country.
VA: Where do you see Travelbeta in the next five years and do you have plans for expansion?
OA: In the next five years, we would have properly transformed into Nigeria’s premium destination management company such that a wave of getting a huge number of flights and hotels will get booked through us. We want to improve tourism as a whole. We want to make sure that people get the best from the places they want to travel to such as Kenya, London and Cape Town. I see us going into partnership across Africa in order to be the number one management company in Africa. There are plans for expansion currently, we have three offices in Abuja, we are opening up in Port Harcourt. We also intend to have several outlets across the city of Lagos as the state accounts for 50% of online transactions that happen in the country. We want to expand to Gambia, which is a huge place for us. South Africa is somewhere we have in our eyes, Ghana also. However, it’s all going to depend on where we find more customers that are interested in what we are offering. It’s also going to be determined by what is happening around that fourth year/fifth year as it concerns managing all these destinations and giving people the best experience across Africa as a whole.