In this edition, we talk to Ifeoma Okafor-Obi, the Business Development Director for Aura by Transcorp Hotels. She talks about the recent launch of the platform and its plans.
Tell us about Aura by Transcorp and what makes it unique?
Aura by Transcorp Hotels is an online platform that helps people book accommodation, great food, and everything they need for memorable lifestyle experiences.
Although Aura is a new player in the hospitality industry, it is backed by the reputation we have built with Transcorp Hotels Plc and our years of experience in hospitality. Hence, there is a level of comfort people have using Aura that you might not usually get with a new brand. Our major competitors are foreign companies playing in the country offering their services in foreign currency, which reduces access for most people who have to pay with Naira cards and struggle with foreign currency limits. Our guests pay in Naira and our hosts get paid on time, a different and improved experience than they have had with some of our competitors.
We also verify every accommodation listed on the platform for safety and quality control reasons. Combining our commitment to the quality of listings with the safety of our guests, Aura is democratising access to luxurious hospitality and unlocking the home-sharing value in Nigeria.
Our focus on the three major things people need, especially when they travel, also sets us apart. Aura answers the questions of where to stay, what to eat and leisure activities to do when in a new place.
2. What are the major challenges you have faced regarding KYC in Nigeria and what role would you say digital identity plays in the innovation happening in your sector?
While KYC is a very important component of our business, there are a few challenges every business has had to contend with. KYC is expensive, costing as much as N40,000 per customer, including customers that may never complete a transaction with the business. Some businesses have recorded incidents of “fake KYC” as a result, but our commitment to the security and safety of our stakeholders means we havd to ensure thorough KYC regardless of the cost. Digital identity makes KYC more effective and efficient. It also reduces costs significantly. Digital identity ensures that our processes, end-to-end, are digital as it should be.
3. How does VerifyMe come in as your identity and property verifications partner?
We are committed to the safety and security of both our guests and hosts. We are also careful about the quality of listings; hence the need to ensure thorough verification of everything that goes live on our platform. This is where VerifyMe comes in. They ensure we can deliver on our promise of quality, safety, and security.
4. What will you say has been the highlight of Aura since the launch?
It is people getting to know Aura, watching our audience interact with the platform and beginining to host their homes, experience services and restaurants. Another highlight is watching our community grow, getting their feedback and optimising our platform to best serve the needs of hosts and travellers. How people have been reaching out to list their homes or to ask questions about our services have been nothing short of impressive. It means we made the right noise and the right people heard us. We are also seeing impressive traction in bookings. We can only expect growth from hereon.
5. How do you see the company evolving within the next two years?
Lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic will affect business decision making. Many international and local companies are leveraging local apartments which offer a homely, safe feel. This shows signs of organic growth which will dominate the hospitality space. The use of short let apartments is here to stay and will rival the traditional hotels.
Beyond that, we also see the company becoming a hub for everything that qualifies as memorable lifestyle experiences. People will be able to deliver experiences virtually through Aura and that will be awesome to see.
However, in the short to medium term, we are working on improving our offerings to our customers. Everyone who participated in #TheAuraExperience had stories to tell, but #TheAuraExperience is not just an event, we promise to continue to deliver unique accommodation, great food, and memorable lifestyle experiences on Aura. Therefore, we are working hard daily to keep delivering great value to our customers, not just through the quality of our service, but also the benefits they get from using Aura by Transcorp Hotels. There are verified homes, carefully selected restaurants, and specially curated experiences on Aura. Guests can book via https://aura.transcorphotels.com/ or our mobile app, which is available both on Google Play and iOS.