By Alkali Amana

American Futurist and industrial designer Jacques Fresco once captured the essence of what technology promises by declaring that ‘the intelligent use of science and technology are the tools with which to achieve a new direction’. True to his assertion, humanity has made valuable and unquantifiable progress in existence by applying science and technology to different aspects of life. Comfort and hospitality are such areas where hotels are working to sustain the value they provide. Constantly thinking creatively and brainstorming innovations, hotels have employed the use of technology to improve their services. African hotels are not exempt from this pursuit. In recent efforts, Transcorp Hilton PLC, one of Africa’s leading hospitality companies, has fused technology with hospitality to provide a new, innovative, and first-of-its-kind digital platform, ‘Aura’ for accommodation, food, and experiences.

With Aura, Transcorp intends to leverage technology to deliver genuine hospitality for all to experience. In the description, the company calls it Africa’s best platform for connecting travellers to unique accommodation, great food, and memorable experiences. Simplifying the target, Transcorp notes that through Aura, the hotel seeks to transform the travel and tourism industry in Africa by focusing on three essential components of travel – where you stay, what you eat and how you spend your time. It also serves as an avenue for people with unoccupied homes, hotels, restaurants, or different skill sets that may interest others to earn an income by becoming hosts. This sets the pace in the hospitality industry. In the hotel industry, technology evolves by the day, given the competition to serve the best of a teeming clientele looking to have seamless experiences that appreciate life as easy and efficient. This is the dimension Aura creates.

As the Vice President of Nigeria aptly explained the innovation of Aura at its launch in Abuja, Transcorp is looking at a revival in the hospitality industry, especially after the downturn experienced as a result of the Covid19 pandemic. In doing this, the hotel puts its huge reputation, track record and success behind helping customers choose the best accommodation available to them. The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Hotels Plc., Mrs. Dupe Olusola, captured the essence of the digital platform when she noted that it reaffirms the company’s commitment to continually offer new hospitality innovation in keeping with its vision of improving lives and transforming Nigeria. According to her, it is certain that this technology-driven platform will provide unique hospitality experiences and create livelihood prospects, boosting the economy and establishing a sustainable hospitality system. Aura opens up earning opportunities in the tourism industry on improving livelihood prospects, inclusive of photographers and tour guides as they can operate through the platform to execute their business.

Africa holds a massive prospect in hospitality. The industry is evolving and growing rapidly. Considering the potential growth, Borgen Magazine notes that those involved with Africa’s hotel and tourism industry have predicted the industry will help economic development. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of branded hotels in the African market had grown eight-fold. Surveys from Hospitality and Tourism International Consulting (HTI), taken by giants such as Hilton, Marriott, Radisson Hotel Group and Accor Hotels, reveal strong optimism about the future of Africa’s hotel and tourism industry. The optimism stems from the idea that once the pandemic ends and tourism picks up again, African hotels will have more capacity than they did pre-COVID-19. Statistics show that close to 70% of the 219 hotel projects in the sub-Saharan region are on track as scheduled. Additionally, as of July 2020, there were 21 new projects for nearly 3,000 “new hotel rooms in 15 African countries. When analyzed, it is reasonable to draw the possible conclusion that as the world edges out of the troubles of the pandemic, Africa will have the ability to host thousands of more guests in hotels, making the most of a potential travel surge.

Transcorp has revealed the advantage of technology with the creation of Aura to improve its techniques and services. Other African hotels and hospitality providers need to take a cue and look to technology to aid a profitable transition for their businesses Post Covid. Beyond business, Africa is at a turning point, with trade enhancement and opportunities growing by the day on the continent. It is imperative to adopt technology to improve hospitality and build its reputation to reach a global stance leading the industry.