Given the current global circumstances, it should come as no surprise that hotels and other travel industry businesses are embracing diversification – after all, this could become not only an absolutely essential tool to weather the pandemic storm but also a winning strategy in the long term. When done well, venturing into other markets and releasing new products and services has the potential to disrupt the current business environment, subsequently leading to innovation and changes in consumer tastes and habits.
It may be too early to speak about something of this scale in the case of Transcorp Hotels Plc., however, their ambitious plans have not escaped our notice. Nigeria’s largest hospitality brand has recently announced the launch of Aura, a new digital platform through which people can book accommodation, restaurants, and experiences. What is new in Transcorp’s approach to this solution is the use of artificial intelligence, as well as a three-component procedure for selecting suitable accommodation.
While artificial intelligence is used to marry each potential guest with a relevant property based on her previous experiences, preferences, travel objectives, location, and dates, the three-component approach means that AI does so not only for the lodging itself but also for local experiences and dining options, which, according to Transcorp’s management, constitute the essential pillars of any successful trip, be it for business or leisure.
Moreover, Aura offers its users a wide choice of properties listing both hotels and private home-owners, wishing to rent out an unused room or apartment, thus effectively bringing the Airbnb model into a more traditional market. However, none of this is innovation per se, as such industry giants as Booking, Expedia, and Ctrip have been offering similar services for years, with a possible exception of the supposedly updated AI algorithm. Nonetheless, being one of the biggest hospitality players on the African continent, perhaps, Transcorp knows something Western- and Chinese-based behemoths cannot or do not wish to take into consideration – things like local travel needs, infrastructural issues unique to a particular location, or emerging trends best observed by home-grown businesses. In any case, the launch of a digital accommodation marketplace by a traditional hotel operator is already news in and of itself, which adds an exciting venture into any concerned professional’s to-watch list – us at Alliance Hospitality including.