Twenty six-year old Daniel Godwin studied Actuary Science at the University of Lagos. In this interview with SULAIMON OLANREWAJU, he speaks about how a challenge he encountered while booking a hotel now turned out to be a unique business idea that birthed Noxiae, a hotel booking platform. He also speaks about how the service has been upgraded into the country’s first hotel review platform.
What was the motivation for Noxiae?
It all started a day when I tried booking a hotel for myself online and I had no information about hotels with recent updated hotel facilities or a single portal that housed all information that could save me the time from opening several hotel websites. I wanted to know the hotels that had good security and I wanted to be sure that proper value and service offered by the hotel I was to book would be commensurate with the money I would pay. That was when I found the gap in the hospitality sector and I grew more curious at the absence of experiential reviews in hotels.
I wrote the problem in my journal and brainstormed on a solution for a whole day, drew up a plan and made further research which led me to finding out the huge hotel numbers in Nigeria and how much the people really deserved this service.
I was hugely motivated to make a difference in the Nigerian hospitality sector and offer quality and decent service first to the Nigerian people and to tourists that visit Nigeria.
Our vision at Noxiae is to ensure that tourists in Nigeria, either local or foreign, have credible and unbiased sources of updated information to make the right informed decisions regarding hotel choices – tailored to individual needs and preferences. Additionally, creating a reliable and dependable platform where people get nothing but the truth and proper value given to Nigerians.
That was in the beginning. What informed the motivation for the added hotel rating and review aspect of the platform?
During our first year in operation, we were driven towards solving the problems that came with the absence of a Nigerian hotel review system and we became that platform that checked on hotels’ credibility, security and performances.
The motivation for our innovation was when I asked myself three important questions; In a Nigerian hotel, what services do you deserve and expect? What are the compulsory services a hotel in Nigerian ought to offer its customers? With the lack of our own rating system, how can you tell which hotel rating is true from the different ratings of Nigerian hotels on international websites.
Those questions pushed me to create our own indigenous rating system that should properly represent Nigerian hotels taking our economic climate into considerations and the technology available to an average Nigerian hotel.
How is this different from the rating system used in other countries?
Around the world, various countries adopt different rating systems. Some are formed through questionnaires, some through the organisations’ personal inspection and others create theirs from information derived from chosen consultants. The one which Noxiae has formed for our country Nigeria is a flexible structure to act as a guide for Nigerian hotels, to improve their services, tell them where they are currently in terms of standards and where they ought to be in terms of improvements. It is a structure that will be revised every three years. We believe what was required for a standard hotel three years ago has changed now due to technology. WIFI should be available in every two-star hotel in Nigeria because of the present narrative, trend and awareness of internet in Nigeria and in three years’ time, another thing will be.
It was drawn by taking into consideration the present economic climate of Nigeria that prevents us from setting a ridiculously high or low standard, our present technology available to hotels and our personal inspection and visitation.
How will this help Nigerian hotels?
It will serve as a guide to existing Nigerian hotels and the ones yet to exist. It will reveal where they are presently and point them where they ought to be. Furthermore, we plan that this Nigerian standard stops Nigerian hotels from having different rating representations on international websites. A hotel is rated three-star here and four-star somewhere else. It shows how disorganised we may seem to be and how we let outsiders define us because we cannot define our hotels. With this device, Nigeria now has a standardised rating system.
Is there a way of compelling hotels to comply with the rating conditions?
At the federal level, the apex regulatory authority is the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) which is established by law to register, classify and grade all hospitality and tourism establishments, travel agencies and tour operators in Nigeria.
But the questions that should be of interest to Nigerians are; how well is the agency carrying out its functions? Does it really check and give every single hotel in Nigeria ratings? And how often does it come back to inspect?
If the organisation is interested in improving its services and needs our support, then Noxiae is open to share its data, standard and ratings for it to be compelled to every hotel by law. Naturally, we are a privately owned organisation and we are hugely concentrating on adding value to the Nigerian hospitality sector and doing what ought to be done that clearly has been ignored.
Do you have any collaboration with any regulatory body for hotels either at the state or federal level?
No, we do not. We have been working privately from our beginning till now. We are in our second year of operation.
What has been the response of Nigerian hotels to the product?
Very positive and it has been something they had looked forward to see or expect over the years and very much glad to open their hotels for inspection and show transparency that builds trust with the Nigerian people.
Do hotels have to subscribe to use the rating?
Every registered hotel in Nigeria is free to use our ratings and every hotel on our platform is issued a verification badge after being inspected.
What is the marketing strategy for the product?
Our product marketing strategy from the very onset has been digital and still is. Most clients that call Noxiae for information or to make a perfect hotel choice got to know us through our digital marketing ads. Digital marketing is a very powerful tool and a must for every startup of today because it works if done properly.
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