by Ogunfowoke Adeniyi
Digitization is the process of converting analogue signals or information of any form into a digital format that can be understood by computer systems or electronic devices. This information can be accessed by anyone anywhere.
Like cancer, digitization is spreading throughout every industry you can think of in Nigeria. In this vigorous and rigorous digital march, the travel industry is not excluded as it has also embraced digitization.
In spite of this, the Nigerian travel market is piggybacking existing infrastructures put in place by the government and telecommunication companies. For example, since the arrival of smartphones, implementation of favourable government policies as well as fall in internet prices, internet penetration in Nigeria has shot up. As at 2018, internet penetration is 51%.
Interestingly, this led to the entry of an Online Travel Agency like Jumia Travel which has so far revolutionised and democratised travel in Nigeria. Since then, many OTAs, hotels, tour operators, resorts, hospitality spots and other stakeholders in the Nigerian travel market have taken full advantage of digitization for customer service/support and engagement, marketing, promotion and sales.
Before digitization, you cannot book a hotel or flight online, you cannot get tangible information about Nigerian destinations and of course, tour operators like Social Prefect, Irin Ajo, Tour2Nigeria, Unravelling Nigeria, and TVP adventures among others will never exist. In fact, Nigerians will never explore local destinations. The perception that Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Istanbul are ultimate destinations will not be jettisoned.
What is different today is that digitization has undoubtedly made travel seamless. If you arrive at your destination 1am and haven’t made hotel reservations, you can easily book a room in an amazing hotel within minutes at the best price on Jumia Travel. Additionally, you can Google destinations or hotels in Nigeria and in seconds, all the information is before you to make informed decisions. This has made Search Engine Optimization (SEO) very essential for many eCommerce platforms.
Furthermore, social media, a tool for driving customer support/ engagement, cannot be overlooked. OTAs, travel agencies and hotels use it to interact with customers, resolve customer complaints as well as promote hotels and packages. The conversion is really encouraging.
While for tour operators, they tap Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to push their tours. This has given many young Nigerians the opportunity to provide much-needed publicity for previously unknown destinations and make money at the same time.
From all this, reliable and verifiable data can now be generated, deductions made and a Nigeria hospitality and travel report can be developed.
Despite the positives of digitization, there are still challenges. A key one is the possibility of eCommerce organisations relying entirely on digitization or the online market while ignoring offline. This is not good because there are still a whole lot of Nigerians who are yet to join the digital craze. Hence, they need an offline arrangement to take care of them.