Travelstart an online travel platform based in Cape Town South Africa is rebranding from only selling of flights to offering a variety of accommodation to the locals. The company bought shares from SafariNow, a site known for providing accommodation in South Africa and East Africa although the terms of the deal remain confidential. However, SafariNow will maintain its brand, business model and the forty workers it employed. SafariNow was launched in South Africa in 1999 and Travelstart in 2006.
Travelstart got $40 million investment in 2016 from Amadeus Capital and MTN which is the largest network offering company in South Africa. SafariNow has a total of 23, 000 listings which includes vacation houses, short-term rentals, and hotels. The platform brags of having more beds in South Africa than any other traveling agencies worldwide. SafariNow is cheaper than other traveling companies in that it charges a commission of 5%, unlike the other agencies which charge 15% to 25%.
The only company that offers stiff completion to SafariNow is Airbnb which recently added more lodging options in South Africa, but still, the platform has less local beds as compared to Airbnb. Most of the accommodation market in the country is unofficial with only small guest houses with either four or six rooms in them. With the collaboration between SafariNow and Travelstart, the company will be able to use the SafariNow accommodation listings. The company will then be required to add a tab on its page for accommodation.
The travel sales in 2017 have been able to collect $2.4 billion within South Africa. Travelstart has been successful due to its ability to offer some booking options which are preferred by the locals in the markets that it commands. The payment options can be direct payments at a specific store or in a given town in Africa, getting tickets in their doorstep with an exchange for cash payment through a third party delivery services.