Travelstart surpasses 1 million Facebook fan milestone

Cape Town, 04 September 2013 - This week, Travelstart, Africa’s largest online travel agency has crossed the 1 million Facebook fan milestone across all the markets in which it operates. The Cape Town based travel agency was a pioneer of online travel booking in South Africa in 2006 and has expanded its operations to various markets across Africa as well as Turkey.
With 13 Facebook pages across 8 markets, Travelstart’s South African page has around 125,000 fans with around 200,000 more on its pages such as “I like Cape Town” and “I like South Africa” which focus on destination-specific deals within Southern Africa. While South Africa has long been the core focus of their social media efforts, it was recently eclipsed by profiles in countries like Egypt where the Travelstart page currently has over 230,000 fans.
In Africa networks like Facebook and Twitter are growing rapidly and the busiest market in terms of customer service queries has been Nigeria, where internet users connect primarily via their mobile phones. Nick Paul, Social Media Manager for Travelstart, points out that Facebook is making big efforts to reach it’s next billion fans in the developing world. “It’s now possible for users to sign up to Facebook without an email address, simply by using their mobile number, this has meant a lot of developing world shoppers are hearing about brands for the first time via Facebook.”
Another important strategy the online travel website has used is to recruit staff with social in mind, seeking out those who are active social media users and who understand the benefits it has for companies. Paul adds that “staff who are mindful of the risks and opportunities which social media provides tend to offer valuable local insights and approach their work with a more holistic online mindset.”
Social media is often criticised for not bringing in direct sales but Travelstart has noted that these channels benefit sales in the long term more than in the short term. Customers coming to the their website via social channels tend to book with them later almost 6 times more than customers from other marketing channels such as Google adverts. These sorts of sales are often not noticed because social media is not the last channel to refer these customers.
Key to Travelstart’s growth on social media is to not only concentrate on the total number of fans and sales but also on curating and posting engaging content across multiple pages and platforms. This, coupled with a focus on customer service on social media has allowed them the best means possible to manage their online reputation and reach a growing number of consumers in the developing world.
Paul also attributes much of Travelstart’s success to a company-wide investment in social media. “A big support to me in growing our communities has definitely been our founder and CEO Stephan Ekbergh’s passion for social. It’s fantastic to work in a company that sees not only the marketing potential for this medium but also its propensity as a reputation management and customer service tool.”

About Travelsart

Travelstart is currently Africa’s leading online travel website with sites in South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey as well as a general Africa site. Travelstart helps customers find and book the cheapest flight, hotel and car hire online through its custom built technology.

Travelstart contact details:

Address: 7th Floor, 56 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town, 8001.
Phone: +27 21 468 4331
eMail: (Nick Paul, Global Social Media Manager)

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