by Abdulrahman Jogbojogbo/January 03 09:38 AMLast updated on 2016 was chaotic, adventurous, disruptive or productive - it depends on who you ask. If you ask the players in the travel industry however, you're likely to get an "Oh! It was great" response laden with a smile or two. Why? Because the travel industry despite its challenges really did grow. The growth experienced is expected to create a wave into 2017 and Hotels.ng, an online travel agency assesses and outlines the patterns and trends to expect; First, it's important to discuss the two main drivers that will shape the travel trends that we see in 2017. One; technology, and two; millennials (a fancy name for the world's largest generation - people that reached young adulthood around the year 2000). Technology has led to exponential advancements in all spheres of life, travel included. It's shaping the way we want to travel, how travel agencies interact with us and the places we want to go to. Millennials constitute the age group that is most exposed to technology, they have an immense travel spending potential, higher tendencies to travel, and also dictate to a great extent the future of travel and the trends to expect in 2017. Here goes the list of trends; 1. Rise in the demand for authentic local experiences and activity packed tours: Before now, travel outside of business focused more on relaxation and change of scenery. Where the older generation would mostly travel for these reasons, millennials are more inclined to travel with the goal of having immersive and interactive experiences, learning something new while travelling in Peru, living the life of the locals in Mexico, exploring the hidden spots in Lagos and having more action packed trips outside of mere sightseeing. This trend was prominent in the past year, and is expected to continue strongly into 2017 as the millennial generation which is adventure driven continues to dominate world travel. 2. Through VR, travel marketers will take locations to potential tourists and travelers: The trend of taking the location to potential travelers gained some traction in the past year mainly through the use of Virtual Reality technology. In 2017, players such as airlines and travel marketers are expected to improve on the technology and exploit it even further. In the past, Delta airlines have used VR to showcase new cabin features to potential travelers so as to convert them, or to make them upgrade their chosen flight cabins. Amongst others, Virgin Holidays have demonstrated the potential of this tech by creating virtual experiences for potential travelers of the locations that they plan to visit - a view of the Kajuru Castle in Kaduna, Ngeria from Oslo, or a Caribbean beach experience from New York city. In 2017, it is expected that this marketing strategy becomes a trend that is embraced by players in the travel industry. 3. The year of travel bots on messaging platforms: The year before, the travel industry saw the introduction of messaging bots from hotel chains, airlines, ridesharing services amongst others. It was mostly experimental and only a slight dip into the big sea of potentials the technology can offer. These travel bots are powered by artificial intelligence and they are programmed to anticipate and answer travel related questions that clients or potential travelers might ask. In 2017, after the experimentation phase that we saw last year, it is expected that more players in the travel industry roll out their own travel bots and that it becomes a norm. 4. Improved sync of all sectors of travel: Through technology, the entire travel schedule for most travelers is pre-planned. This usually involves booking flights in advance, booking a hotel in the desired destination, car rentals and navigation through digital maps. For the bulk of travelers, these activities are done in isolation. Several technological platforms that manage the entire travel through just one portal are however becoming popular. In a world that is increasingly becoming dependent on technological solutions, the roll out of all inclusive travel management platforms will be a trend in 2017. 5. A blend of business and pleasure travel: Today’s work pattern and culture is different from what it used to be. Today, work typically has a looser structure. This makes it easier for business travelers to indulge in activities that count as pleasure and take time out to experience the work location as a leisure tourist would. Business travellers who are increasingly becoming millennials are blurring the distinction between business and leisure travel, and in 2017, it’s expected to be even more so as fun increasingly becomes an integral of work. 6. A push for direct bookings by chain hotels: In most of the world, OTAs such as Hotels.ng act as middle men that connect travelers with hotels. Top hotel brands in the developed world that have several chains of hotels under them and lots of capital are expected to attempt to cut out OTAs by aggressive marketing targeted at the travelers themselves. Smaller brands and hotels are not expected to follow this trend as it requires a lot of capital and poses a risk of losing out on clients if no relationship with OTAs exist. Considering the strenuous relationship between top hotel chains and OTAs in recent times, the hotels are expected to lead a noisy campaign that will help them to be independent of OTAs in 2017. 7. Increased users on OTA platforms: Despite the predicted push by top hotel brands to cut out OTAs, it is expected that OTAs worldwide record a surge in their clientele as internet becomes more available worldwide and cheaper too. This wave that has been growing for the past few years will also benefit from the crashing prices of smartphones and is expected to continue into 2017 as millennials who are the major travelers are also very tech savvy. 8. It will be all about the consumer: Customer is king - a cliche that we hear all the time. This phrase is even truer in the travel industry as all the players realise that 2017's traveler will be the guy that is used to having all the information and services that he needs at the snap of a finger, a guy who is used to having options. Today's traveler does not go out searching for services, the services and options must come to meet him. As a result of this, in 2017, the travel industry will bend over even more to satisfy the modern traveler. The travel industry promises to offer another bumpy ride in 2017, but from all indications, it will be a positive year as the industry has grown its platforms over the years to meet today's demand.
by Abdulrahman Jogbojogbo/November 22 01:52 PMLast updated on Spots.ng – come on, say it with us slowly: S-P-O-T-S.N-G There, a name that will shake up tourism in Nigeria, and redefine travel, discovery and fun. What is it? In a short time, at hotels.ng, we have overhauled the entire hotel booking and travel system in Nigeria, swapping cumbersomeness for ease, reliability and efficiency. In a move aimed at creating an even richer experience for our users and tourists within Nigeria, we have created something special, something novel and fun – spots.ng, a product that aggregates all the fascinating and fun spots in Nigeria, provides comprehensive reviews, exact directions to the spots, and a list of nearby hotels where you can rest. With spots.ng, you only need to say where you want to go – a museum or restaurant in Lagos, the Erin Ijesha waterfall, a polo club or nightclubs in Abuja, somewhere in Calabar, and in an instant, you have it; a list of fascinating spots that best fit your query. Also, a comprehensive review that provides you with all the information that you will need such as directions, safety level, age limits (where they exist), and other such details is made available at no cost. Finally, we link you to great hotels nearby that will fit your bill no matter your preferences. Before now, no one was doing it, so we had to. We want you to make your destination choices with zero hassles, we want you to focus on having fun, and we want you to sink in a hotel bed at the end of the day with a big smile on your face. The design The entire product was designed to deliver a great user experience. It’s simple, easy, intuitive, and built with elegance and minimalism as the design core. It’s a true reflection of the parent company’s ethos and commitment to lean and design oriented efficiency. The idea spark Back in December, 2015, hotels.ng’s growth team came up with the idea of creating more value for hotels.ng users, for Nigerians who want to travel within Nigeria, and tourists from other countries. This led to the design of the skeletal framework for spots.ng that was eventually picked up by our in-house developers and some of the developers from our Remote-Internship-Programme. By November 2016, the final product was ready and made available to the public on spots.ng. Challenges As in the creation of all things beautiful, the design of spots.ng had its challenges but in Neo the CTO’s words, “we were lucky to have a beautiful team that turned the main challenge into the most exciting part of the entire building process.” The team had to aggregate, and assess cool spots across Nigeria, travelling long distances in some cases, and comprehensively logging in required data necessary for a seamless user experience. Our edge At spots.ng, our execution is unique in that we provide local solutions to our users, suggest spots and places of interest that we personally curate and aggregate in a bid towards delivering the maximum travel experience with a rich local flavour while linking users to hidden spots that were before now barely accessible. Spots.ng also relies on its parent company, hotels.ng to provide hotel bookings and lodgings at a discounted rate to tourists and users who discover and experience Nigeria through their platform. No one else offers these services to the Nigerian user or to tourists coming into Nigeria. The future We anticipate that the use of this free product, spots.ng, grows exponentially and that it becomes a user favourite. In the weeks that follow, we shall monitor user behaviour and suggestions, and keep improving the product to achieve premium user satisfaction. Other features such as choosing a spot based on your mood are also in the works, and soon an app will be available for download across all platforms. Also, enhancements are being made to develop a system where we can crowdsource the aggregation of more cool spots throughout Nigeria in a way that doesn’t sacrifice quality for quantity. In a nutshell With spots.ng we sought to create a simple and viable solution to fulfil the tourist’s needs, giving them more spots to choose from, a safe and fun experience, and a robust support system. Spots.ng will make the world even better connected, showing Nigeria’s hidden gems to the world, opening up locations that have no business being obscure, and more importantly, giving the tourist control and the power to decide how they want to discover a city, town or location of interest in a way that is unique to them and different from the norm. We do not want our users to enjoy only the famous tourist attractions, we want them to truly live in the moment, breathe the local air, discover local delights, enjoy local food, and have a more fascinating experience discovering their locations of interest at their own pace and off their own inclination through a platform that prioritises their safety, and complementary travel and lodging support. Spots.ng is only the first release of a product that will grow to be even more robust while maintaining its signature simplicity and elegance on the outside. We will grow to meet our users’ growing desires, adapt to their needs, and always be propelled by the need to create a wholesome, fun, and fascinating travel experience. We are redefining travel, discovery, and fun, and making all the cool spots available at your fingertips. Wouldn’t you rather travel the spots.ng way?
by justin/June 16 09:10 AMLast updated on This year, we are seeing spikes in hotel booking behavior all over the country that are a little divergent from the established patterns from previous years and we decided to peer a little closer at the numbers. Generally, Nigerian hotel bookers are booking their favorite hotels as usual in relatively the same pattern that they have, but some things are a little different now: For starters, bookings in the South - one of the most prolific hotel booking quadrants in the country - dipped slightly, while the bookings in the North has climbed to heartwarming heights (at ~-7% and ~48% respectively). Yankari has been a green trend on our radar lately, with more Nigerians booking hotels within close proximity to the Yankari National Park. It is easy to see why this one happened; the Bauchi government has been promoting tourism to the state lately. And so have we - everybody loves Bauchi. It's an inspiring place, an archetype of Nigeria's natural pulchritude. https://twitter.com/GovMAA/status/730666244614017025 https://twitter.com/hotelsng/status/684785018930069504 Hotel Booking Insights and Our Assumptions At the end of April through the middle of May, we observed an increase in the value of hotels booked in Abuja and an increase of hotel bookings around Abuja. A 10% increase in booking activity can be a significant percentage, especially if the activity is recorded among the high value, luxury hotels, as was the case during that time. We have attributed this to the signing of the 2016 budget in Nigeria at the time. There are two reasons why we are seeing more bookings in Northern Nigeria: We have partnered with a lot of Northern hotels in the past year, and this representation is showing itself on our radar. More people are booking Northern hotels online now that they can find more of them available on Hotels.ng We also think that the positive movement of the Northern booking needle might be related in some way to a generally warm sentiment towards the current administration's anti-terrorism actions in the North. While the effect of the oil crash is felt uniformly, the impact is easily picked up from activities in Southern Nigeria, especially in the South-South and South-West as a small number of people are doubling down on the number of hotel rooms they sleep in per annum. Demographic Insights The age group that books the most hotels in Nigeria - by a large margin - is the 25-34 set. 62.4% of the total hotel bookers in 2016 are male. The top five most active states in terms of total number of hotels booked per state are Lagos, FCT, Rivers, Oyo and Delta states. 62% of hotel bookings happen on mobile phones, 32% on desktop browsers and 6% on tablets. We have compiled the sweet stats into an easy infographic:
by justin/August 28 06:19 AMLast updated on Boom. Our office is pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves - but you don't have to take our word for it - even Techpoint thinks so too! Hello, World! The office building itself is distinct enough that we expect it would become a landmark pretty soon, and I have found myself giving driving instructions to first-time tourists visitors by saying, 'when you take a turn, look for the whitest building on the road.' The whitest building, guys. That's us. Here's the building from the outside: [caption id="attachment_1006" align="aligncenter" width="604"] "The Door!"[/caption] Let's knock on the door, shall we? When you visit us, the first room you'll see is our reception area. You know what they say about first impressions; what do you think of ours? [caption id="attachment_1007" align="aligncenter" width="604"] Please have a seat. Read a magazine. Tea, coffee or a great booking experience?[/caption] And when you come in, well hello there! Meet the bookings team - the people who ensure that you get the hotel room you deserve, when you need it, and how you need it! The next time a Hotels.ng customer care representative calls you smilingly, you know where that smile is coming from! [caption id="attachment_1010" align="aligncenter" width="604"] "Good day, and welcome to Hotels.ng!"[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1011" align="aligncenter" width="604"] The kitchen area[/caption] Welcome to our conference room - [caption id="attachment_1012" align="alignnone" width="604"] "Gentlemen, shall we?"[/caption] You can see other photos (and some nice angled shots too!) by visiting this Techpoint article.
by justin/May 27 06:56 AMLast updated on We are constantly improving Hotels.ng. This is what we do everyday. It's our full-time job and our responsibility to our users. Usually these improvements are a series of small changes and updates to our platform or our approach to customer service (social media included). Some of these changes are so small they go unnoticed by all but the most scrutinizing of our users, but when we measure them, we see the positive impact on the overall quality of our product offering. This is what we do. And it makes us happy. We are even more elated to announce big changes. Recently we announced that we received $1.2m in funding from Omidyar Network and EchoVC Pan-Africa. [Read about that here] We are happy to be partnered with Pierre Omidyar (eBay founder)'s Omidyar Network and EchoVC, and the feeling is mutual. These are investors interested in what we do, and they believe in Hotels.ng. This funding makes it possible for us to do a lot of things. For starters, we are now optimizing our inventory process to capture hotels in real time. We can also - finally- expand into other African countries. We have come a long way from 2013. We have continued to grow and deliver value to our users on an individual basis. We are especially proud of that. As our CEO Mark Essien puts it, "we’re forging ahead into relatively uncharted territory; E-commerce in Africa is a massive market to conquer, but there are no hard and fast prototypes from which to follow; We cannot simply replicate Western models here; we have to build our own blueprints from scratch, which takes significant investment, both in terms of time and money. This additional capital will allow us to realize the next stage in our ambitious growth plans, which will see us consolidate our position as Nigeria’s market leader in online hotel bookings, with a view to expanding our service into other African markets, such as Ghana.” In the days that follow, we will be revamping our platform and updating you on our onward journey. We are constantly improving Hotels.ng.