The Future of Travel is Online



Online travel agency, Travelstart Kenya in collaboration with global distribution system firm , Amadeus and  payments service provider, 3G Direct Pay have organized a one day seminar aimed at discussing the opportunity the internet brings to the travel industry globally.

Dubbed the Future of Travel is Online, the seminar set to be held in Nairobi on November 7 this year at the Villa Rosa Kempinski, will bring together payments, e-commerce and online travel experts from around the world to share expertise on online customer acquisition, availability and safety of online payment platforms and what online means for airlines.

Speaking to TechMoran, Travelstart Kenya Country Manager Bryan Kariuki said, “Though Africa may be lagging behind other continents, Internet is steadily becoming a reality, especially due to the proliferation of affordable smartphones and mobile broadband. The need to tap into the international community through tourism and innovation also makes it a necessity for travel industry players to go beyond physical offices.”

The seminar comes at a time when companies are grappling with the continent’s growing internet population and the corresponding opportunities. Kenya alone has over 12 million internet users while Nigeria has over 50 million internet users. These numbers are set to grow as urbanization sets in, coupled with growth in local economies.

According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, “Evidence of what is to come can already be seen in Africa’s major cities, where consumers have greater disposable income, more than half have Internet-capable devices, and 3G networks are up and running. Significant infrastructure investment—for example, increased access to mobile broadband, fibre-optic cable connections to households, and power-supply expansion—combined with the rapid spread of low-cost smartphones and tablets, has enabled millions of Africans to connect for the first time. There is a growing wave of innovation as entrepreneurs and large corporations alike launch new web-based ventures.”

With the several people getting online, travel can’t be left behind. More than half of travel sector companies surveyed currently book online and another 20% are expected to do so in the near future according to research paper by Amadeus dubbed ‘A Digital Savannah: Africa’s e-commerce promise’.

Another revelation in the report was that more than half of companies surveyed have a significant international and cross-border business footprint, and as many as 52% of companies prefer to handle their travel bookings online, which is expected to grow to around 70%. Corporate firms in Africa also tend toward centralised booking, with more than 80% of respondents reporting strict policies and control over travel. The future of travel is therefore online and Travelstart hopes that no companies will be left behind.

“We hope that firms within the travel industry can gain from using the internet to acquire, convert and retain customers,” said Lorna Muchemi, Marketing Associate Travelstart Kenya. “We are flying in speakers from within the global travel industry to share expertise with local players. We expect they will take advantage of the opportunities available for booking online.”

Among the speakers include Stephan Ekbergh, Travelstart Founder/Global CEO, Mbwana Alliy, Founder and managing partner at Savannah Fund, Eran Feinstein MD 3G Direct Pay, Juan Torres, GM Amadeus East Africa and the keynote speaker will be Anna Othoro, a Nairobi City County Executive.

Founded 15 years ago in Sweden, Travelstart allows users to search, compare, book and pay for both domestic and international flights. Apart from airline tickets, Travelstart also offers booking for accommodation, rental cars, airport transfers and various travel related insurance policies.

Travelstart Kenya’s booking engine allows users to search, compare and book domestic and international flights and pay securely online via any internet enabled device. Users can also walk to their offices and book manually. Booking online saves travelers over 16% off in discounts.