It is not unusual to get invited to a social function out of town, say a wedding ceremony, get there and have no idea where to stay, where to eat, or what to do. Not unless the host makes reservations ahead or gives recommendations on where one could explore. When people visit places they are not familiar with, unless they are told where to stay or even book ahead, they might struggle with the new environment and even feel lost.
While there have been (mostly foreign) platforms offering Nigerians some of these functionalities, Aura, a platform developed by Transcorp Hotels Plc is offering localised experiences for users.
“What aura now facilitates is that, as soon as you get an invite or know the event to attend, you can find properties that meet your needs around that place,” said Ifeoma Okafor-Obi, director, Business Development Aura by Transcorp Hotels plc. It could be a hotel, apartment or an entire home. Once the booking is done, one can also check for available food or events happening around the time of that visit. Maybe a concert or some other performance one may be interested in.
What this does is enable a person to plan ahead, and explore ways to maximise their visit to what would have been a new place. If for instance, a person were going for a wedding holding on a Saturday but through Aura, finds out there s an interesting event, they can plan this into their itinerary. They could then either arrive earlier, or leave later, planning for sightseeing, culinary and other experiences available within that vicinity.
According to Okafor-Obi during a virtual interaction with journalists, the Aura platform literally helps one to book accommodations, staycations, order great food and everything needed for a memorable lifestyle.
The aura platform is available on the web as well as IOS and Android. On the site, one can sign up and search for properties by preferred location, including intended duration of stay and other parameters.
Through the platform, “essentially, you can find a home that fits your aura,” said Okafor-Obi.
It could be a hotel, apartment or experiences. There are ranges depending on price preferences and the platform covers all pocket sizes and price points.
“Asides being an online presence, we want every member of society to participate in hospitality and earn money. What we want to do is create a new breed of hospitality entrepreneurs,” she said.
This highlights another major objective of the platform; helping people make money through their properties. As she explained, many people occupy buildings where space may not always be maximised with vacant rooms every now and then. This can be an avenue to tap into the home sharing platform, which is not a new concept but in fact, one increasingly practised all over the world.
People can put the unused part of their home up on Aura, or even an entire beautiful house in the village only used at Christmas. However, over the course of the year, things may be happening in that locality and requiring people to get accommodations, which is where that often-dormant village property could become useful. One can then get the property utilised, enabling other enjoy the hospitality of that home while earning an income from it.
Another way to make money from the platform is by becoming an experience provider on Aura. If one lived an area where there are a lot of beautiful places to showcase, one could become a tour guide and get paid by would-be visitors, actually, now tourists. If one also had skills as an artisan; arts and crafts, they can showcase them on the platform to attract people to pay for their handiworks.
If one were also a photographer that has taken amazing pictures, these could be sold through the platform to those who would appreciate the creativity. This is apart from offering their services as a photographer to those visiting their locality.