Taking advantage of the variable platform provided by African Tourism Partners at the AYTIS 2023, young African entrepreneurs have unveiled innovative trends in the tourism and travel sector.
Speaking at panel discussions on the second day of the summit, the youthful entrepreneurs noted that travel technology is the deal for the tourism industry today.
The new trend, which is tagged TravelTech, takes after FinTech, and enables tourism entrepreneurs to leverage technology in growing their businesses.
Explaining the trend, Musthafa Tijjani, founder and CEO, Aeropaye Smart Flight, a Nigerian-based travel company, noted that traveltech is not really a new trend but that the adoption in travel and tourism business has increased tremendously in recent times.
According to Tijjani, tourism businesses are leveraging technology in doing their businesses because of the ease of doing business it offers, easy of payment, access to the useful data and research on competition.
While integrating travel into fintech is the way to go, Tijjani said that there is still gap between the two, which needs to be closed and the AYTIS is offering that with the various master classes by experts at the summit.
For York Zucchi, chairman, Start-up Tribe, Switzerland, and moderator of the ‘Mastering the art of capital raising’ panel of discussion, leveraging technology in the tourism business will ensure financial propriety by opening up the financial status of a business for auditing and to would-be investors for possible funding.
Collaborating with Zucchi, Robert Elman, DBN head, SME Finance at Namibia Development Bank, noted that tourism start-ups that are leveraging technology in their business are closer to getting funds for expansion than others because technology enables easy assessment of their businesses and claims.
Another trend is risk sharing.
To scale their businesses, many start-ups in the same line of business are now combining their strength, skills and funds, while reducing pressure from competition.
There is no harm in starting small, but build trust at your small level to enable others to see reason to invest in your business, Zucchi noted.
“If your capacity is 20-room hotel and you want to scale up, you don’t need to go for loans, instead seek for collaboration with businesses within your level to pull all your resources together for a 60-room hotel. You will scale up easily with collaboration,” he advised.
As well, crowd-funding is working for young entrepreneurs, especially in Africa where bank high rates make repayment impossible.
Mikul Shah, co-founder and CEO, Purple Elephant Ventures, Kenya, noted that no business is an island, hence young entrepreneurs desirous of business expansion should seek funds from friends, family, associates and likeminds when loans and other sources of funding are impossible.
“Start knocking on doors, speak to people and friends and funds will flow,” Elman advised.
Most importantly, custom-made products by the customers is the way to go.
“Gone are the days when you design with the guests in mind, rather ask the guests what they want and how they want it. My most successful deals are the ones initiated by my clients and I only supervised their delivery,” Susu Nkumalo, a tour operator said.
Again, products targeted at the generation z are selling like hot cake.
Nkumalo noted that she was able to scale up her business delving into youth products such as selling music festivals, weddings, educational fairs, sport tourism among others.
Meanwhile, ater many exchanges, boot camp, mentorship and evaluation by the judges, the healthy rivalry among African youths entrepreneurs in the travel and tourism space took another level as Top Three winners emerged in the entrepreneurship challenge. The budding entrepreneurs emerged from a pool of 8 equally good tourism start-ups at the 5th edition of the AYTIS 2023, which held at MTC Dome in Swakopmund, Namibia.
The Top 3 winners are: Cornelius Ugwunwa, from Nigeria; Ntshabo Lehong, from South Africa and Gloria kisilu, from Kenya.
At the final pitching on the second day of the summit, Cornelius Ugwunwa, impressed the team of judges consisting of technology, travel and tourism experts, with his tech travel solution app presentation, which enthralled the audience as well, while Gloria Kisilu, through detailed presentation, convinced the judges that her Shaba Craft brand is investable. But Ntshabo Lehong got the votes of mystery adjudicators to make the Top 3 finalists with her hospitality and wellness tech app.
The overall winner will emerge at the African Tourism Leadership Forum in Gaborone, Botswana in October and will go home with the prize money of $USD1000, though African Tourism Partners, the organisers of the challenge, promised that the other winners will smile to the bank as well.
However, Nigeria had three out of the eight finalists including; Ibukunoluwa Salau, who is based in the United Kingdom, Mustapha Tijjani, and Cornelius Ugwunwa, who made it to the Top 3 finalists.
Speaking at the event, Barry Clemens, CEO, Hospitality EQ, Kenya, chairman of the judging panel, noted that they found it difficult choosing the Top 3 as all the 8 contestants presented solution-based innovations and are considered winners despite that one winner will take home the $USD1000 prize money, for being the best tourism technology talent revelation in Africa for the year 2023.
All the top contenders were awarded certificates of honour from Africa Tourism Partners.
Expressing his excitement at the quality of entries in 5th edition of the challenge and the painstaking adjudication by the panel of judges, Kwakye Donkor, CEO, Africa Tourism Partners, organisers of the event, commended African youths for taking on entrepreneurship in tourism and travel sector and most importantly, offering solution-based products and services.
He urged them not to relent, while calling on many out there to step into the challenging world of entrepreneurship at a young age, summing up courage from the success stories of the participants at the summit this year.