Nigerian hotel booking platform Jovago sees double-digit revenue growth each month, as it taps into the growing tourism market in Africa, Jovago Nigeria managing director (MD) Marek Zmyslowski has revealed.
In an interview with Disrupt Africa, Zmyslowski said that despite experiencing strong revenue growth, the startup is focused on growth, this growth requiring significant on-going investment.
“I can proudly say our revenues grow by two-digit numbers every month,” Zmyslowski told Disrupt Africa.
“Though, we’re still a startup, we’re focusing on growth and building the biggest brand in Africa which involves a lot of investment,” he said.
According to the MD, the time is ripe for tourism in Africa – both intra-African and from international visitors -, meaning that the demand is high for an online booking portal facilitating travel arrangements on the continent.
“Hotel bookings in Africa are becoming increasingly popular. This can be attributed to the fact that tourism in Africa is booming and the resultant effect is that people want to travel more and stay in hotels,” Zmyslowski said.
“Jovago makes it easier, cheaper and more convenient for people to find hotels around the world. Before Jovago, it was extremely difficult for people to find and make hotel reservations especially here in Nigeria. Imagine going for a conference in a city where you have no contacts and having to go from one hotel to another looking for a room. With Jovago.com, all these hassles are totally taken care of,” he said.
Zmyslowski says this growing interest in Africa as a tourism destination is being fuelled by the internet, which is “selling” Africa as never seen before.
“Africa is a huge tourist attraction. Unfortunately, before now, most of these attractions were not being fully explored because there were not enough people selling the African story. Now, with the proliferation of social media, discussion forums and blogs, more people are writing about Africa’s tourism opportunities and in turn, more people are discovering Africa,” he said.
Having launched one year ago, Jovago currently enables bookings at over 20,000 hotels across Africa, 6,000 of these in Nigeria – with Lagos and Calabar the most popular hotel booking destinations on the platform.
The company is also working on securing partnerships with other elements of the tourism industry, such as travel companies, in a bid to further streamline the travel experience. For example, Jovago recently partnered with Nigerian domestic air carrier Discovery Air.
“For us, the aim is to be always where our customers are. A huge fraction of our customers are people who travel a lot – either by road or by air, and for each time you travel, you need a place to stay. We are partnering with these transport companies so that we can provide affordable accommodation to their travelling customers.”
According to Zmyslowski, tech and online startups are particularly important for the future of Africa’s economy; however, he cautions startups to be prepared to tackle infrastructural challenges.
“Growing successful startups need to hire plenty of people, which helps in solving the unemployment problem. Tech Startups contribute to Africa’s average GDP. It is significant for the continent (and each African country) to become less dependent on natural resources,” he said.
“However, be prepared to spend a lot of time and money on educating the market,” Zmyslowski said.
“Also African online businesses have to focus much more on offline operations than online businesses on other continents. That is because we can choose from relatively less outsourcing services here.”