Late last week, the website of Nigeria’s online hotel booking company, Hotels.ng was redirecting to another website; Timbu.
Techpoint also learned that Hotels.ng’s .africa extension had been redirecting to Timbu long before last week, and still is.
Though largely still under construction, the Timbu website appears to advertise being a repository of and offering for tourism services; flights, visa, and hotels.
Before now, there had not been any prior announcement that explained the move, at least to Techpoint’s knowledge. This begs the question of if the company is rebranding or offerings its services on a global scale.
In a telephone conversation with Techpoint, Hotels.ng’s Chief Operating Officer Yemi Johnson said the latter is the case.
“No, we are not rebranding, Timbu is our global brand and international arm and the plan is to make it the biggest provider of travel information and related content; whether, visas, flights and hotels, everything,” he said.
Timbu will then go ahead to monetise these content and the resultant actions users will take from them.
On the issues of the websites redirecting, Yemi explained that Hotels.africa now redirects to Timbu as it’s now the global flagbearer. For the .ng case, he said that was a server problem.
From Bookings, Expedia to Wakanow, there are more experienced players and competition in the global field that Timbu is currently pitching its tents. Yemi says Timbu has a competitive advantage.
“Over time, we have seen a lot of established players try to explore this same model but they could not figure it out. But I believe that we can do it because we are operating successfully in and have built a successful business in the African environment. This success can be replicated in a related field.”
Because cost and margins are very low, Yemi said Hotels.ng’s technical firepower will help it build all technologies at reduced costs.
The company’s annual Hotels NG Internship — popularly known as HNG Internship — is Nigeria’s largest remote/online software development training programmes. And possibly one of the largest in Africa too.
“Without breaking the bank, we are able to get some of the best developers in-house to build proprietary technologies, content creation and marketing tools.”
Yemi said they plan to get a call centre outside the Lagos metropolis and other urban cities.
“Generally, most things we plan are efficient and cost effective and will help us focus on all the things that really matter. This is why we know Timbu has an advantage over others,” he said.
As Techpoint learned, the name Timbu is a shortening of Timbuktu — an ancient Malian city — and is supposed to denote the Africanness of the brand.
On when Timbu will launch, Yemi said there is no particular or big launch date,
“For us, we just want to keep perfecting it and rolling it out bit by bit until it has reached a stage of full functionality,” Yemi said.
Nigerian startups raised $55.4m in Q1 2020; over 99% of which came from foreign sources. Find out more when you download the full report.
Subscribe to the Techpoint Africa Newsletter for weekly updates