Travelstart Reveals Growth Strategy in New Markets
31 July 2013, Cape Town -- Travelstart.co.za, South Africa’s leading online travel agency, today divulged its winning growth formula in the emerging markets it operates in. Since launching its signature travel website in countries in Sub-Sahara, East, West and North Africa and the Middle East, Travelstart has fast become a force to be reckoned with in the world of Internet travel booking on the continent.
Maija de Rijk-Uys, Head of International Markets at Travelstart alludes to their solutions around distribution and the variety of payment methods they offer as key drivers of growth in new markets.
“Africa’s savvy online travel audience is thriving and they expect a system that can help make their lives easier, not more complicated. A growing number of travellers have been attracted to the Travelstart websites by their ease of use, as well as the comprehensive customer service support we offer during and after the online booking process.”
Partnering with established suppliers and hiring locally has further assisted the online travel agency in establishing a presence in international markets. In addition to its headquarters in Cape Town, South Africa, Travelstart has offices in Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Lagos, Cairo and Istanbul where it trades as Geziko.com – a brand created specifically for Turkey where Geziko translates directly to English as ‘Trip Co’.
While the continent is still in its infancy from an Internet infrastructure perspective, Travelstart believes their early adoption of emerging markets in Africa and further afield will allow them to capitalize on the growth potential in those regions.
Travelstart has differentiated their offering from competitor websites by providing a variety of payment channels as well as local payment options. Customers can book airline tickets on the website and pay immediately with their Credit Card, or opt to place their booking on hold to pay within 24 hours using their bank by means of an Electronic Funds Transfer or direct deposit. In some main African cities, customers can take advantage of the Cash on Delivery service, whereby airline tickets are delivered to the customers’ doorstep in exchange for payment. In this way, Travelstart is responding to its customers’ needs effectively.
Technology & Distribution
From a technology perspective, Travelstart’s impressive international airline inventory comes from the Amadeus Global Distribution System. Over and above Amadeus, their airline inventory is further diversified as a result of their in-house development team building direct connects to carriers where global distribution systems such as Amadeus don’t apply. As a result customers can take advantage of comparing ticket prices and booking local airlines and most major carriers on Travelstart.
The online travel agency also uses its Affiliate Network to make its booking engine available to third-party websites. Currently, there are more than 500 affiliates signed to Travelstart’s Affiliate Program in South Africa alone; each earning a commission by referring bookings through a white-label system or through the API provide by the travel company.
Social media has played a key role in Travelstart’s foray into new countries with Facebook being its best performing engagement platform. Today the online travel agency boasts 11 active Facebook pages, across 8 markets totaling over 900 000 members.
Today Travelstart has a staff complement of 150 employees worldwide, and currently more than 1 million people visit their global websites on a monthly basis. Looking to the future, the online travel company has plans to expand to even newer markets. Stephan Ekbergh, CEO and founder of Travelstart envisions his company as a global brand that has managed to stay true to its roots.
“When we launched in South Africa 7 years ago we wanted to create something that wasn’t just another air ticket clearinghouse. So we spent our time building a service people would want to use because it works, and helps save time and money. We’re proud to say our baby is grown up and for us, her journey into Africa and Turkey has been one of learning and love, and we look forward to the challenges that will present themselves as we take Travelstart to even newer pastures.”
Travelstart was founded in Sweden in 1999 by Stephan Ekbergh. Since entering South Africa in 2006 Travelstart has expanded to include Nigeria, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, and Turkey where it trades as Geziko, as well as a site for the African continent at Africa.travelstart.com.
Travelstart helps consumers research, compare and save on domestic and international travel. Online travel solutions are provided to third party websites through an extensive Affiliate network.
Address: 56 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town, 8000
Phone: 021 468 4300
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Priya Unger - Head of Search Marketing & Conversion Optimization)
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