Nadine Malik Almani is the Country Manager of Jovago Pakistan, which is an international venture by Rocket Internet specializing in hotel and vacation rentals globally. She is the first female country manager amongst all Rocket Internet ventures in Pakistan. Recently AwamiWeb interviewed the woman behind Jovago Pakistan.
Here is the conversation with Jovago Pakistan’s CEO Nadine Malik Almani:
1. Tell us about yourself and Jovago Pakistan
I graduated from Bryn Mawr College, USA and started my career as a banker with Citibank Pakistan. After 4 years at Citi, I decided to pursue my MBA at INSEAD, France and then worked for 2 years as a Management Consultant for Bain and Company in Singapore and Dubai.
I joined Rocket Internet in August 2014 to establish operations for Jovago.com, Pakistan’s first online hotel booking platform. Jovago.com started operations in May 2014, but was formally launched through an event earlier this year. We have the largest hotel portfolio in Pakistan, 1600 hotels and guest houses spread across 150 cities. We are constantly growing, and hope to continue growing.
2. Do you think there is big gap in “Online Hotel Booking” system in Pakistan? What are your goals to fill the current Gap in this market?
Yes, there is a big gap. Before Jovago.com, there were limited options of booking hotels within Pakistan online. People would book directly at the more well-known hotels, or go through a travel agency which on average has 5-6 recommended hotels. Even then, they had no way of knowing what the hotel would look like once they get there. What we are doing is adding a range of properties online, and all different prices to cater to a range of budgets.[junkie-alert style=”white”] On our website, our hotels and guest houses range from PKR 250 – PKR 240,000 per night.[/junkie-alert] We also take our own pictures and encourage customer reviews so that our users have a more accurate representation of what the hotel looks like once they get there. By providing more choice, greater transparency, and convenience, we wish to make the travel process much easier and more affordable for our customers.
3. What are the main reasons for the people to consider Jovago instead of the manual hotel booking system?
When traveling to remote areas in Pakistan, people have to either go through a travel agent or ask families for references about places to stay. Travel agents don’t have as many options as we do, because we have a team that personally visits cities and on-board hotels and guest houses.[junkie-alert style=”white”] Our team visits each and every property that is listed on our website, and take pictures which are directly uploaded on our website [/junkie-alert]
Another compelling reason is that everything on our website is real. All the facilities listed are also checked when the team goes, so it provides users a complete overview of the hotel or guest house they are signing up for – everything is transparent.
4. Pakistan Tourism Industry has been severely affected in last few years, why do you think that your company has potential to Conquest Pakistan’s market in such a situation?
Well, we hope to increase tourism through our social media and marketing efforts. We write blogs regularly about different places to visit, and we hope that by seeing this people, local and foreigners, are inspired to come to Pakistan.
5. How Jovago Pakistan is helping small hotels to get more business?
By giving small hotels that don’t have marketing budgets access to a larger base of customers. When the team visits them, we educate them about our website and upload the hotels themselves. This way, small hotels do not have to do anything, and their business is growing because they come up on searches, where previously they weren’t even known.
6. What are the key marketing platforms your company is using currently?
We launched our marketing program recently. We use both online and offline marketing strategies, such as facebook, blogs, twitter, instagram and radio campaigns among others.
7. Are you planning to use Adwords and private ads on leading blogs of Pakistan?
Our global team handles all the Adwords and private ads. We advertise on blogs and other websites.
8. Who is your competitor in Pakistan?
In Pakistan, we do not really have a competitor because no website offers as many hotels as we do – 1600 hotels in 150 cities in Pakistan.
9. What is your message for young Pakistani entrepreneurs?
There is so much potential in Pakistan for entrepreneurship – I always encourage people to follow their passion, but at the same time to ensure that they have a solid execution plan and a strong team in place- a good idea is not enough to make the business successful.
10. Suggest your Top 5 must visit places in Pakistan.
I love Swat. I have had such great memories there, that it would be one of the top 5 must visit places. Also one should visit the Hunza, Kaghan, Chitral and of course Murree because it’s one of the most visited tourist regions!
11. Thank You for giving us your time, please provide the foreigners and the Locals looking forward at using Jovago Pakistan with some useful tips.
Don’t be scared to travel to Pakistan! Pakistan is so beautiful and don’t let media define your perception – go out and explore!