Is Hotels.ng pushing a good culture?
Personally, I had nursed a silent hope that when technical-oriented founders start getting funded, we may begin to see some interesting developments in the tech-related small business environment here in Nigeria. (dodging the use of the terms "startup" and "ecosystem". Hopefully, I can do that till the end of the next few paragraphs).
I think the earlier spate of funding that went to the tech community in Nigeria at the beginning of the current renaissance went mostly to teams led by pseudo-business people and maybe domain experts. Which is not bad, but there's a way a business guy will direct his/her energy and there's another way a technical leader will direct hers. From how capital is allocated, to hiring practices, approach to marketing and brand building. It will be different. I suspect that I may be biased (as usual) in my estimations based on the fact that some may consider me a nerd who is always rooting for his kind.
But it gives one butterflies in the tummy. If only there were more.
Here are some of the things I have been hearing of, from my small stand in the audience:
An internship programme
Hotels.ng remote software development internship testimonial. Next one starts in January. Start preparing, it can change your life. pic.twitter.com/BVCPPJCd2X— Mark Essien (@markessien) October 23, 2016
They put together an approach to help young developers get some real world experience, then maybe get a job at Hotels.ng or get introduced to other companies looking to hire young developers. Even if they don't get that far, at least, they have learnt new skills and improved their analytical thinking abilities. I heard the first batch of interns even developed some open API for tagging locations in Nigeria. Good stuff. Very good stuff.
A different approach to brand building & marketing
I haven't seen too many Hotels.ng ATL advertising. Sure, I've seen some ads on Google, but not as "in your face" as all the earlier funded companies. Well, maybe that's because they are not that flush with cash. Maybe, but I doubt. I like the heavy focus on optimizing for search engine traffic. Google "Hotels in Ogbomoso" and let me know what you find. I also like the cheeky social media engagements and email marketing.
Hiring big credentials? Maybe not
Haven't read any news (yet) of Hotels.ng beefing up the C-Suite with expensive, very qualified, ex-consultants from big name schools or big name companies. Is it prudence and a focus on growing and empowering from within or just not enough money to do it? Or I could be wrong altogether.
Offering free venue for techie events on weekends
You got some money, you got an office, why not let others use that space to get their own hustle going too when you can? Why not? It's good. It creates opportunities for interaction for your own team, helps to keep an eye out for potential hires/partners, etc. Why not.
Product hacks. Respecting offline.
You know, having a number people can call to book a room. Forget the website and it's fancy design. Just call me, I'd sort you out. Having a team pursuing corporate bookings. Yes. These sorts of moves also suggest calculated actions based on what can work rather than just going with the usual, market-like-hell-till-customers-buy we have seen in the past from other players.
I know this is now starting to look like some endorsement of Hotels.ng. Shit! That wasn't the plan. Given that Slimtra... never mind. In fact, I still question the rationale behind the seeming belief that consumers (Nigerian consumers) travelling from Lagos to Jos will book a room online when they can either stay with a friend, find the best hotel when they hit town or have had their booking done by their employer (I have heard more than 60% of hotel stays are business related). So, this is not an endorsement of consumer-hotel-bookings online, but of the culture that the company Hotels.ng seems to be tilting towards.
Someone aptly said, Hotels.ng is "sending the ladder down". This is what I had hoped will happen someday, but not been able to articulate in my head, till I saw it. The rise of the Nigerian geek who also drags other geeks along. Now we just need one to become a billionaire, somehow. Then get more.
But wait, is Mr Essien really Nigerian? :P.