Online Booking for Flights in Africa

Is online travel booking the next big thing in Africa?  Africa is fast becoming a major global travel destination as the continent offers lots of holiday and business prospects. While African airlines accounted for a mere 2% of global air traffic due to a market that is still regarded as underdeveloped, the continent is now on a good trajectory due to multiple factors. There is for example a fast growing African middle class together with the need to travel more within the continent as more African nations trade with each other. The last three years have also seen some tremendous investments in broadband infrastructure. This mean Africans are traveling more while at the same time they are logged on to their devices. This has as a result created a huge demand for online travel service on the continent.

Online Booking in Africa
Currently, online booking is still dominated by many airlines through their websites. Almost all of the major Africa carriers now offer travelers online booking service through the corporate website. These normally offer discounted flights to get customers off the queues and away from the travel agents in order to embrace the convenience of internet booking.  Additionally, there is an emerging trend of online travel agents that are now establishing operations in Africa. The most successful online travel agency so far in establishing Pan African operations is Travelstart that currently offers African travelers localized online travel booking platforms in the key markets of Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Which markets dominate online booking?
Currently, South Africa offers the most vibrant online travel market in Africa with several players jostling for the millions of travelers who visit from abroad or travel within the country. Other major online travel market are Kenya, Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria. However, these countries do not have serious competition in the online travel niche.

Local versus global online travel agencies
As more local online travel solutions emerge, Africans will be faced with the choice on whether to book flights with local online travel agencies like Travelstart or opt for the old players like Expedia and Priceline. Local definitely has significant advantages in terms of excellent local customer support, flexible modes of payment and good and firsthand knowledge of the local market. It will be interesting watching how the competition unfolds as more Africans log on to the internet to catch the next flights or book hotel rooms.
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