BY LOUIS IBA
Nigeria’s tourism industry holds greater job creation prospects for its citizens if effectively harnesses by both public and private sector investors, says Omolua Oyakhire, founder of new online travel booking portal, Ajala. ng.
“The tourism industry is one area that as a country we are guilty of not really paying that attention to it and doing the right thing to unlock its potentials,” said Oyakhire.
“There are hundreds of youths searching for jobs; that employment that eludes them could easily have been created if over the years we had made very good use of our tourism potentials,” she added.
In this interview, the Edo born graduate of Statistics from the University of Ibadan who also holds a Masters Degree in Supply Chain Management from the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, United Kingdom told Sunday Sun how a strong passion to assist unlock Nigeria’s tourism potentials as well as assist vacation and excursion seekers drove her into the travel business. Excerpts:
My passion for travel business
When I was growing up, in my family my father made us to believe that to travel outside where one lived or worked, that person must really needs to work so hard, save a lot of money, and then also spend a lot of money on that travel or vacation.
But when I grew up, and especially when I came back from the UK, I said to myself I must work out ways to cut down the cost for those who want to travel. After my first degree at the University of Ibadan I went to do my Masters degree at Gordon Brown University in Aberdeen. And there I realized that people who want to travel did not really need to be the very wealthy in the society. And this was because as I grew older and got a hold on a whole lot of information, I realized that all these were like a myth. And so that is how I got involved in the travel industry. It was a very strong passion that I had inside me. I just wanted to let people know that look you can go out there and see the world, and explore it, and to do that you don’t need to be a millionaire.
And as a Nigerian, I also realized that you must not always seek to make that journey outside the country. There are various tourists cites in the country. Why cant we develop our tourists cites? Why can’t people travel from Lagos to Osun to Calabar to Jos to Kano just for the sole purpose of knowing those places. And I started working out the realization of my passion from our company. I started to see how we can encourage our in-house staff to travel; we tell them to go on familiarization trips, go on excursions and to know places. And we saw how they became enthusiastic to travel. And I also started conceptualizing how to make things easier and cheaper for this group of persons. And that was how the idea of Ajala.ng came about. Nigerians love to travel. They want to go places. And someone has to assist.
What is the Ajala.ng all about?
I will describe Ajala.ng as a new one-stop online travel management platform that we have launched into the Nigerian market to assist traveling customers take control of their travel plan and optimize different opportunities at the lowest cost possible. I don’t want to see myself as the person that conceptualised it, nor its owner, but I give credit to the whole team that worked on this project. It is a team idea. We borrowed the name from the popular Yoruba folklore of Ajala the traveler; he was a man that was always traveling around the world.
So we floated this online portal and called it Ajala.ng. a simple idea you may say. But it gives travelers a firm control over what they wanted to do independent of the travel agents.
So we wanted to give travelers the power to make their own bookings at their own time, and with their preferred airlines.
You see, if you go to an agent, most agents will only give you an airline that will give them a commission and then they will tell you “oh that is the only airline that is available for that route, please take it.” Because they know that if they sell the ticket, they will get some form of benefit from the airline.
But Ajala.ng provided a platform that the customer is able to see everything for himself. We really took time to work on it. Once anyone logs onto it the first thing that is noticed is the ease of acquiring travel information and a ready support to those who thought travelling must be very expensive an adventure to undertake.
For instance, there are information that shows the times that flights are cheaper, like at midnights, than in the afternoon, and if the customer has that control he doesn’t need to call an agent at midnight, but can on his own do the booking. There are also information and support for customers who desire to travel but do not have adequate resources through the provision of options where such a customer can be spreading payments over a specific period of time and still meet his or her travelling desires with a relatively low cost.
How did we work this out?
Ajala.ng utilizes a combination of automated tools and manual processes to deliver to customers the lowest available airfares at any given time. What we did was to design the most convenient, fast and user friendly website and provides a date search matrix to help see prices across a week at a glance, maps to help pinpoint one’s destination as well as other innovative tools at the customers’ disposal. Every booking made would go through a rigorous lowest logical fare check to ensure the best fare is available for the traveler.
Hard work is very important
In whatever anyone seeks out to do, there must be that passion to drive it through. And you need to work hard too. Laziness really takes no one to anywhere. I told you earlier I studied Statistics and you can see that it is the passion for travelling that actually took me to do what I am doing. I am an Edo girl, but I have not been to Italy and don’t need to (laughs). I think there is a lot of opportunity in Nigeria. The tourism industry is one area that as a country we are guilty of not really paying that attention to it and doing the right thing to unlock its potentials.
There are hundreds of youths searching for jobs; that employment that eludes them could easily have been created if over the years we had made very good use of our tourism potentials.
Source : SunOnline