Africa: How a young Nigerian entrepreneur is revolutionising travel experience with technology
Inspired by nature, travel, technology, breathtakingly experience, sights, and sounds across the world, Adedeji Pelumi, an International Relations graduate, has achieved his goal of founding a technology-driven, travel Experience Company in Nigeria.
Taking the rough path of entrepreneurship, especially at a time his generation struggle to get jobs or move up the corporate ladder, Pelumi, in his late 20s, shares his experience as the founder of a technology and lifestyle business, Icon Trip.
With a global reservation software specifically designed for the African market, the young entrepreneur believes it is never too late to capture the travel and tourism industry in Nigeria and beyond and compete globally.
Proven that age is nothing but numbers, Pelumi says the system gives travel agents access to book over 500,000 hotels worldwide, 11,000 sight-seeing options, and 1,500 airport pickup options while leveraging on global partners. He hopes to inspire his generation and help them
realise that it’s neither too late nor too early to pursue your dreams.
Tell us about Icon Trip?
Icontrip is a travel technology firm using travel software solutions to assist travel agents and hoteliers across Africa.
We have partnered some of the best players in the industry to provide instant availability of hotels, tours, airport pickups, and car-hire worldwide.
What problem are you trying to solve in the travel and hospitality industry?
I have been in the travel industry for over 8 years and a part of me kept asking how I can make changes in the industry.
Through this, I introduced a B2B model into travel experience by building a global reservations system that makes travel business seamless for agents.
A large number of traditional travel agents in Nigeria are only familiar with booking flight tickets and holiday packages, but the void we are trying to fill is how these travel agents make their bookings.
Some of them booked through the hotels or tour companies directly, some have partners in many countries, while some have global partners.
I discovered there was no indigenous travel B2B company providing this kind of service, designed to meet the needs of travel agents so I decided to solve the problem.
So far, how well has the market been receptive to your innovation?
So far, we have recorded some tractions. We knew what the problem was, and we did a good job of solving it. This is for the software as a service; another thing is selling it to travel agents.
The market acceptance is great and our teams have done a great job. Sometimes, it is difficult to convince them to use something new but we are here to build good business relationships.
With over 7,000 travel agents in Nigeria, we are on a strategic drive to gain at least a 30 percent market share by year.
What competitive advantage does your company have over international competitors?
We have been in the industry for years, so we knew what features travel agents would love. Our software has so many other features designed to reduce the time travel agents use in building holiday packages. It’s very easy to use and it requires little or no training.
Our competitive pricing is also another factor for recording good traction so far. Travel agents simply compare the price and discover we have great deals for so many markets.
What challenges are you currently facing as a young entrepreneur
I knew this was a problem years ago, I saw the gap that was not being filled and I kept on wondering why no one was trying to solve this difficult problem. Because it’s a difficult thing to do and not everyone likes difficult work.
In building software as a service, you will encounter problems with writing codes, getting the right interface and not being sure of how long it would take.
Also, some other challenges were reaching agreements with our partners. We have lots of partners and we had a lot of back and forth to make sure we give our travel agents the best service and rates.
How do you see the tourism industry in Nigeria evolving?
The government has done well in managing security situations in the country but we still have a long way to go when it comes to attracting tourists and promoting the creative industry.
We also have to make do with what we have by curating the forms of tourism we are good at. This includes religious tourism and entertainment tourism. I still wonder why Nigeria has not been able to gather enough to attract visitors from other African countries for concerts, museums, Nollywood movies, etc.
This is being done at the moment but not at the scale it has the potentials of reaching. If the government creates an enabling environment, all these can be achieved in no time.
By Aderemi Ojekunle