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CEO Weekends: Interview With Marek Zmyslowski Founder & MD

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Marek, an online hotel booking site launched last year and part of the Africa Internet Holding backed by Rocket Internet, MTN and Millicom wants to help previously unknown hotels to be discovered, booked and reviewed by the world, and help the hotel and property owners to access ever more customers.

Jovago operates in Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan and Senegal and has listed over 2000 hotels in Africa. Jovago also works with other firms so as site visitors can book over 200,000 other hotels using what the company says a fast, reliable and easy to use platform.

TechMoran caught up with Marek, the founder and Managing Director and had a few questions for him. Marek says he is a born leader with analytical mind, an Internet geek, a fashion enthusiast and a sports addict.

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Everyone says Jovago is being accelerated to be sold (allegedly Rocket Internet’s less than two years exit strategy) is this true?

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I can clearly say “No”. Jovago is a venture of the Africa Internet Holding (AIH), which is supported by three partners: MTN, Millicom and Rocket Internet. Together we introduce and accelerate the online shift in Africa and shape the online culture by building long-term success stories. We are passionate about what we do. Therefore, we launched Jovago to build the biggest online booking portal in Africa. Our strong, long-lasting partnerships are the key in our business.
Do you (Jovago) have a team in Kenya and Senegal or you will be running operations from Nigeria?

We have fully operational teams with local offices in Kenya as well as in Senegal to ensure to provide our customers with the best service possible. Overall Jovago is currently running operations from Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal.

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Credit card penetration in Africa is so low, what is Jovago doing to address this problem? Any plans to use mobile money in Kenya?

We communicate the benefits of using online payments, we’re choosing only most reliable and safe payments providers. We are watching closely mobile payment options, and we are also planning to implement a totally new payment option, as first online booking platform in the world.

jovagoOnline hotel booking also involves fraud, what is Jovago doing to reduce/end fraud online?

Hotels are completely protected from the risk of fraud. In case of prepayment options by the customers, Jovago covers the payments.

Jovago takes a commission per every transaction, what if hotel owners decide to use their own booking systems than yours? What advantage do they get for using Jovago?

In general it is positive for every hotel to have as many customer sources as possible. Those sources obviously include their own booking engine on the hotel website, which can be used by customers who already know this hotel. Additionally, the hotels can target unknown customer groups by using Jovago. We give them the possibility to get bookings from new customers, they were not able to reach on their own.
How unique are you from your competitors?

We focus 100% on delivering the biggest, verified inventory in Africa with the best service possible. No one works as closely with the hotel management as Jovago, which places us way ahead of our competition in terms of providing the best customer satisfaction.

When is Jovago introducing its bus and flight ticket booking and car rentals platform?

We are considering options of expanding into new countries, as well as offering additional services to existing markets. As for now tourism in Africa has a huge potential, which we will use to further grow in this sector.



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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakoba
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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