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'Book now, pay later' : Online hotelling service aims to uplift tourism industry

'Book now, pay later' :  Online hotelling service aims to uplift tourism industry

LAHORE: Jovago Pakistan Country Manager Nadine Malik Almani says her company aims at bringing revolution in the e-commerce market by offering quality services and customer-friendly policies and transparent mechanism, besides its vision towards uplifting the tourism industry in the country., which is an international venture by Rocket Internet specialising in hotel and vacation rentals globally, is the pioneer of online hotel booking service in Pakistan. Apart from being the first to tap into the industry, is the only travel company with more than 2,000 hotels on board in 160+ cities.
"Jovago is competitive in many aspects. We work with hotels to provide great deals and discounts and we have a 24/7 customer support team that helps customers with every step of their booking. We are the only hotel booking portal to accept post payments with our 'book now, pay later' policy, and we provide the best prices for 98% of our hotels," Almani said during an exclusive interview with Daily Times.
In Pakistan, she said, e-commerce has taken off, especially after the launch of 3G/4G and also due to wide availability of cheaper smart phones. Apart from that, she added, high presence of social media has played a vital role in the popularity of online businesses as well. "Most hotels see great value in our service as we promote and market them to a larger base of customers. We grew more than ten times in 2015 compared to 2014, which reflects the trend of alternate purchasing habits of people towards the convenience of online services."
On a query, Almani said one key challenge for Jovago initially was gathering information for hotels in far-flung areas of Pakistan as well as convincing smaller hotel owners to come on board, as they were not familiar with the concept or did not believe that online hotel bookings could be a viable channel for them. "Another challenge was to change consumers' mindset towards accepting online hotel booking over traditional travel agencies- we have managed to overcome this by offering greater choice, transparency of prices and best prices. However, the e-commerce industry still has a long way to go in building consumer trust and confidence," the country manager added.
She said Pakistan is a beautiful country but people are apprehensive about travelling within due to the lack of information available. "The government needs to highlight the positivity of our country and encourage domestic tourism. It should invest in preserving and maintaining our national heritage and cultural assets. Further, the government needs to invest in infrastructure- specifically roads and railway networks to increase access to remote but incredibly stunning areas in the north," Almani opined.
Explaining the marketing strategy, she said one of the core values of is to have a strong and active online presence, because at the end it is an online hotel-booking portal, adding that the company is active on all social media platforms that includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snap Chat and is receiving good response through these mediums. "These platforms are primarily used to not only educate a diverse consumer base but at the same time update information regarding and travel 
in general."
In terms of ways to make payments, has partnered with Standard Chartered Bank and Easypaisa and is continuing to form new relationships that would make the company a pleasant experience for all customers, she said, adding that company is also starting to offer tour options to various organisations as well, which would boost the entire tourism industry.
Almani, who has a diverse experience of studying and working in different countries, believes starting or running a business is challenging, as it requires a good professional network and support system. There are definitely challenges associated with being a female entrepreneur in all industries, but the focus should be on the growth of the company, she added.

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