Can you give us a brief introduction of yourself?
My name is Marek Zmyslowski, a Polish entrepreneur who came to Nigeria over 3 years ago to tap into the growth opportunities of the Nigerian hospitality and online travel space. After three successful years at Jovago I decided to start a new venture – HotelOga – that would enable small and medium sized hotels to broaden their exposure and boost their revenues. Before coming to Nigeria I successfully grew a number of technology startups in Europe. I’m a big fan of Nigerian people and their business spirit. I’ve fallen in love with Africa and decided to stay here for longer.
There is a misconception that HotelOga is a competitor of Jovago, a company in which you served as a Managing Director for some time, is this the case? If not, what exactly is HotelOga and who is its target market?
HotelOga is a business solutions company and not an online travel agency. We provide booking management tools that channel reservations in one place and save hotel managers’ time. We connect hotels to more than 100 online travel agencies and a million classical travel agents through platforms called General Distribution Systems. All that with the goal to provide hotels with more alternatives of getting new customers and building loyalty with the old ones.
The app is strictly for hotels, especially those who do not enjoy a vast online presence. In a continent where internet penetration is sub 50%, what is HotelOga’s plan to reach hotels that are offline?
We are based in Nigeria. We work hands on with our business partners. We visit hotels in person and explain our business solutions to every hotel manager individually. Our staff and our field agents are mobile around the country and reach out to those hotels that don’t have online presence. We offer them business advice as well as our online and offline solutions so that they can reach out to new customers and get more bookings.
Who are your competitors and what is HotelOga’s competitive edge over other players in the hospitality industry?
There are already hospitality software companies, however even though there were on the market for few years, none of them were able to have a visible footprint in the market. Most technology companies are built by IT experts without deeper understanding of its customers needs. What makes HotelOga different is that most importantly, we are a team of people with vast experience in Hospitality and Online Travel, who later took advantage of the latest technology to solve the problems peculiar to the African market. Our business model is also innovative, because hotels pay us only if they see increase in their revenues.
The hotel management system comes with the HotelOga service; can you please explain how it works?
We provide both hardware and software for free and we work with our partners helping them get more bookings. We create websites, we host domains and e-mails, we facilitate payments, we provide stable network connection and we synchronize bookings from multiple platforms. And all that in one intuitive HotelOga tool. We provide a technical support and we work with our partners to support their business long term. We charge a modest fee for every booking you get thanks to HotelOga. When our partners earn money so do we.
- Does your service cover Africa as a whole or just Nigeria? If just Nigeria, what other countries do you hope to penetrate in the next five years?
We are currently in the process of opening offices in West and East Africa. Expect to hear more about that soon.
- What are your projections for 2020?
HotelOga will be the biggest and most friendly hospitality technology company in Africa.