Nigeria’s leading hospitality brand, Transcorp Hotels Plc has launched Aura, a new Airbnb-like platform that helps people book accommodation, restaurants, vacation homes, holiday getaways and other experiences.
The launch comes just months after the company announced that it was going to restructure its business strategy and diversify into asset-light business models due to COVID-19 losses.
The new platform is the company’s first alternative accommodation segment in its 30-year history. According to the Managing Director and CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc., Dupe Olusola, the launch of Aura will spark new dawn in the hospitality industry.
“It’s a new dawn in the hospitality industry! I am thrilled to introduce you to Aura by Transcorp, the digital platform we are using to connect people to quality accommodation, great food, and awesome experiences,”Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Hotels Plc., Dupe Olusola
Hospitality industry is recovering
The African Hotel and Tourism industry took a big hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, reportedly losing over $50bn in revenue. Similarly in Nigeria, the pandemic was largely behind the drop in industry revenue from over 637.8 billion in 2019 to 524.6 billion in 2020.
This led to a significant drop in GDP contribution as the sector contracted by -17.75% in full-year 2020 from 2.85% in 2019.
Amidst this, Transcorp Hotels suffered unprecedented losses. The CEO said in September that the occupancy levels fell to an all-time low of less than 5%.
To mitigate this, the hotelier announced that it was diversifying its portfolio and reducing its workforce as part of its cost management initiatives.
Transcorp moves beyond the hotel premises
Transcorp’s restructuring plan which was kickstarted last year is finally launching with Aura.
Aura, much like Airbnb, uses its proprietary algorithm to connect travellers with great accommodation, good food and memorable experiences. The platform is also an avenue for people with unoccupied homes, hotels, restaurants, or different skill sets that may interest others to earn an income by becoming hosts.
Working with thousands of partners across Nigeria and different cities in Africa, Transcorp Hotels is building the largest platform for people-driven hospitality in Africa.
While travellers enjoy the right selections at the best prices on Aura, hosts can also earn a lot of money by receiving guests in their unoccupied homes and sharing the local culture with them.
Explaining how Aura works, Obong Idiong, CEO at Africa Prudential Plc, Aura’s technology partners, says that the platform uses an advanced search algorithm powered by artificial intelligence. He added that Aura determines the relevance of locations taking into consideration the customers’ preferences and requirements to meet them at the point of their needs.
Priscilla Adeboye, a beta tester of the platform expressed that her experience on the platform was incredible despite the global pandemic. She narrated that she was able to take some time off work or spend a weekend away from home with the family in incredible homes found on Aura.
The Aura platform is currently only available in Nigeria but the company said there are plans to expand to major cities in Africa. Guests and hosts can sign up at aura.transcorphotels.com to start booking or hosting.
Aura is not the first booking platform in Nigeria and as such must be prepared to face strong competitors like Airbnb and Travelstart that have been carving a niche of the market.
However, the fact that Aura’s parent company, Transcorp is a well-known financially strong company that has many years of experience in the hospitality industry is a big plus.
This experience could greatly help them to expand into areas Airbnb and Travelstart have not been able to crack as well as offer services better tailored to the Nigerian market.
Transcorp’s launch of Aura could provide the increase and diversity of revenue they seek.
However, as the Hotel and Tourism industry recovers from the nightmares of the pandemic, Aura will need to pull on all of Transcorp’s resources if it’s to make a breakthrough in the midst of strong competition.
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