The Fidelity SME Forum is a weekly radio programme run by Fidelity Bank Plc. to educate, inform, advise and inspire budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria with knowledge and expertise that will enable them build sustainable and successful businesses. In this episode of the Fidelity SME Forum, Travel Expert and Chief Executive Officer of Avienti Travels & Tours, Daisi Olotu, Managing Director of Dees Travels & Tours Limited, shares his insights on the Key Strategies For sustainable Business Growth in the Travel and Tours Industry.
Question 1: Tell us briefly about your background in the travels and tours industry.
Olotu: I started in the traveling industry back in 1986. As a young man who loves to travel, that was what I actually saw in the business that I decided to start in the business working for somebody. I actually started with Lola travels and after sometime before we decided to form Dees Travels and Tours limited.
Question 2: How long has Dees travel and tours been around for?
Olotu: 17 years by August. This year we will make it 17 years since I started.
Question 3: How would you say the journey has been so far?
Olotu: With the passion I have for the business, its always good to like what you do. I love what I’m doing, that has really been the inspiration behind the success of Dees Travels and Tours.
Question 4: What did you study in school?
Olotu: I studied human resource management in the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and I studied aviation in IATA training school, New Zealand.
Question 5: What informed your decision to go into travels and tours?
Olotu: Ive told you I love traveling, visiting places that was actually the reason behind working in the travel business. When you like traveling and you take it up as something you love doing its not going to be a difficult thing to decide to say Okay. Because most of the time its actually good to taste what you’re selling so you’ll be able to tell somebody that oh, this is awesome, this Is nice then you’ll be able to market it properly, convincingly and people will buy into it.
Question 6: What would you say are the top priorities for an aspiring entrepreneur if you want to consider venturing into travels and tours?
Olotu: First of all, when I started DEES travels, of course, there weren’t much funds but because it is what I wanted to do, I started, engaged somebody, we were just 2, we started DEES travels and today by the grace of God we have 60 staff across Nigeria with 8 outlets. Were in Port Harcourt, were in Ibadan, Abuja, Lagos, and so on. Really, its about love for what you do, passion. I always say something, Think of anything, and work towards it, its done.
Question 7: How would you say the travels and tours industry is operating in Nigeria?
Olotu: Ive always been saying this, in Nigeria for instance, we do not have bad support so to say, that’s why you find travel agencies everywhere, untrained people going into the business probably because they do not have anything to do, they just know they can make money running a travel business and they’re into it, without proper training, without funds, there’s nothing you can do without funds.
We started this travel business without any funds anyway but what we’ve been doing is putting back all that we get back into the business. If we make 10 naira, we put 8 naira back into the business and that’s how we’ve been growing the business up till where we are today.
Government isn’t doing anything about travel and tourism, they really have not started because if you take a look at whats going on elsewhere, Ghana, South Africa, I would mention African countries, don’t let us go far to Japan. Because of the business I do Ive gone virtually everywhere in the continents of the world, so I could say a lot about the travel business, I could talk a lot about the travel business.
Question 8: You’ve been in the business for almost two decades, between when you started and now, what would you say has changed and has it changed for the better?
Olotu: I would say technology has really changed the face of the business. When I started the business, I could remember 1986, I was actually working for somebody then, get cards, we had insufficient cards, what we called insufficient cards, clients will call in then on NITEL line they will call in and then have a booking, you raise a card, you then call the airlines from morning to night, the following day if you don’t get the airlines to speak with to make the bookings, you pile up the cards and take to the airlines for reservations.
So, before you can get back to the customer or the clients or the passenger it takes some time but now a matter of minutes you can get back to your clients from wherever you are, your house, in the office, you can quickly open your laptop and make a booking for the client and get back to the client. Technology has really changed the face of the business.
Question 9: What would you say are the key elements for sustaining business growth in this sector precisely?
Olotu: In any business, if you’re sincere in what you’re doing people will know and that’s actually what will keep your business going. Of course your passion for the business, putting back a portion of your profit into the business, of course the business will continue to grow and you would have earned the trust from your clients. One client will introduce you to another, another to another, before you know it you have clients. By the time you have them, you have to make sure you keep them because if you ask me Lagos-London-Lagos, how much is it? I would say N10, 000 you go online and check, you see N12, 000 naira there, you will never come back to me.
But, if you ask me N10, 000 you go and check you see N10, 000 or probably N10, 200 naira then I can explain to you, Oh, we have service fee of N200. Sincerity and then putting back whatever you earn to the business then that’s exactly has been the secret of our success.
Question 10: Tell us briefly about the value chain involved in the travels and tours business.