News Column

Wakanow Boosts Affiliates With N1 Billion Union Bank Credit Facility

July 21, 2014

Demola Ojo

Last week in Lagos, online travel company unveiled a partnership with Union Bank designed to help ease financial pressure on independent travel agents by granting them a line of credit for their business.

Considering the import of the occasion, there was little fanfare last week at the Oriental Hotel launch of a wakanow/Union Bank partnership that is bound to enhance the travel business in Nigeria. However a cursory glance at the audience revealed high-level representatives of both local and international airlines operating in Nigeria, tour operators and travel agents which included those previously trading with wakanow and new ones willing to take advantage of the opportunity about to be revealed. This was serious business and big news.

"We're launching a one billion naira credit program for independent travel agents, said wakanow Managing Director, Obinna Ekezie in his opening remarks. "This is one billion is being provided by Union Bank and the way it will work is that any affiliate that has been trading with us for at least two years and goes through the criteria of qualification from Union Bank would be able to get up to two million wakanow credit on their affiliate network portal. That two million naira is currency you can use to pay for your customers tickets. You can trade for up to one week before you settle your bill with us," he explained.

In essence, through the automatic ticketing technology, agents can issue tickets to customers without having to get in touch with wakanow affiliate account managers to issue tickets. In practical terms, this means affiliates can do business say midmorning, weekends and anytime necessary immediately without input from wakanow. Obviously this helps to increase trade and service delivery to costumers.

"This is something we're very excited about, this is just the beginning of this product, it is something we're developing for the agents that are unable to meet the criteria for the International Air Transport Association license and and also to meet the criteria for the default insurance policy which is the security for gaining access to issue tickets on Billing Settlement Plan by IATA," he explained. At present, the minimum guarantee travel agents need to access the BSP is N10 million which according to Ekezie "is quite steep." Speaking directly to the agents at the event he said, "This is an opportunity to grow your business at the capacity you can now."

To qualify for the scheme, affiliates must be a registered Nigerian company in the travel business for a minimum of two years with a monthly turnover of N2million and a clean credit bureau record. Speaking on Union bank's offer, Executive Director, Commercial and Retail Banking, Union Bank, Adekunle Adeosunexpressed Union Bank's is excitement about the partnership stating that it gives the bank an opportunity to work with growing businesses and also exposing the banks revamped services to the public.

Wooing New Agents Wakanow's Chief Marketing Officer, Stella Obinwa, threw more light on the advantages of the facility to travel agents. "We've given you the technology and Union Bank has given you the credit. And we're asking you to go out there and use it," she said. She continued on how far the online travel company has gone in helping agents sell travel products. "The last phase of the whole partnership is to give you the products to sell. It's not just about flights, it's not just about hotels, it's not just about airport transfers; it's about the complete package. You can do all of this for the costumers that come to you. We've made it easy in this coming decade; we have created the packages for you.

"We understand that your travellers want to know where to go, what to do, how to get there and we're creating packages by the day to meet the needs of your costumers. We have a few packages available, which will also be on your affiliate portal at a discounted rate from what we give to the public," she continued, obviously wooing new agents to join the wakanow affiliate program. "There are dedicated teams working behind each of these packages to give you everything you need, so you don't have to come up with these ideas yourself. These include faith-based travel, school packages, wedding destination packages and more. We also do sports travel; racing, football, the Olympics, Commonwealth Games...

"What we have done is that all you have to do is sell a package. When it comes to the details; who picks them up when they get to their destination; who takes them to each tour activity; who makes sure they get breakfast, lunch and dinner, wakanow has done all of that for you.

We also provide the protocol to go with each of our group travel packages; we will have wakanow staff with each trip that we produce. "We're not just to giving you the technology and the money, but also what to sell to your clients. We're trying to do the work for you so that all you have to do is create the relationship with your costumers and come to us for the tools and products you need to sell," she reiterated. To conclude the event, Ekezie had a few more words as he encouraged the agents in the audience; "The more business we do, the more Union Bank will open this credit line. They have the money. And I must tell you, regarding the travel business in Nigeria, we haven't scratched the surface.

"Nigerians pay for their travel with cash. In the UK, Us and other developed countries, majority pay with their credit cards. "When we find ways to bring banks to participate in the travel business, that is when we will see phenomenal growth in the travel business. We're growing but not as fast as we should because the banks are not participating. This is a way to get the banks to participate. "Wealth is not how much cash you have but how much access you have to credit. You must now start to build your credit worthiness," he concluded.

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Source: AllAfrica

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