Investors looking to stake a claim in the online hotels booking market – as demonstrated by the recent Hotels.ng funding round – are following the “great example” set to the market by Jovago, according to managing director Marek Zmyslowski.
Disrupt Africa reported yesterday rival Nigerian hotels booking platform Hotels.ng secured US$1.2 million to increase the site’s reach in Nigeria and expand across Africa.
Speaking to Disrupt Africa, Zmyslowski says the fact that other investors are interested in the online bookings sector in Africa can be attributed to Jovago’s efforts to create the market.
“If other investors are also interested in getting a piece of the hotel booking pie, it definitely shows that Jovago is showing a great example for the market. Other investments were for us just a matter of time,” Zmyslowski said.
According to the MD, competition from rivals is a positive development, and will provide a comparison to ensure Jovago maintains the highest standards.
“Competition should never be underestimated, at the same time it’s always good to have someone you can compare yourself with, and motivates you to always improve Jovago’s services to remain the best in Nigeria and Africa,” Zmyslowski said.
Rather than worry about Hotels.ng, or other market players, Zmyslowski says bringing about a change in consumer habits and encouraging the uptake of online bookings in Nigeria present the biggest challenges to Jovago.
“With only a couple of per cent of all hotel nights booked online in Nigeria, our real competition is the habit of Nigerian customers not to book hotels in advance, and just to walk in from the street. Our biggest challenge right now is to communicate the benefits of online booking on Jovago.com and approach our customers directly, also using offline marketing. I like to think that thanks to all these activities, Jovago is actually a market creator,” Zmyslowski said.
While the online hotel bookings market is a dynamic sector worldwide and boasts significant potential, according to Zmyslowski, he concedes the Nigerian and African markets are also risky for investors to enter.
On one side, the African hospitality market is one of the fastest growing in the world. On the other side we have the growing online usage in this continent. These are two strong trends that create a great environment for fast growth for online bookings,” he says.
“Nigeria (and Africa) is a market of huge potential, but also much more risks. Jovago is backed up by MTN, Rocket Internet and Millicom and I can proudly say the level of trust given by the investors is uplifting.”