Conceived in Sweden, Travelstart first opened its doors in 1999, as the brainchild of Travel visionary Stephan Ekbergh. He brought it to South Africa ten years ago.
This online travel agency has identified that people want to travel, don't want to spend too much money, and don't want to go to many websites to make their arrangements.
Travelstart offers this all in one platform.
Ekbergh says the aggregation of information about fares across all the airlines is a complicated operation and one has to have staff doing this. But, more importantly, Travelstart staff negotiate with the airlines to get better fares for customers.
That;s why you can often see it's cheaper on our website than on the airline's website.— Stephan Ekbergh, CEO Travelstart
So it is not just about the technology on the website...You have to do the other softer parts, like negotiating and servicing customers...especially when bad things happen.— Stephan Ekbergh, CEO Travelstart
Ekbergh says when they began in South Africa in 2006, the airlines here were difficult. But the company persevered and built up momentum.
What is the key to Travelstart's success?
It's really simplicity. Not having to go to all the travel agents, no calling around, and finding everything in one place - and knowing it works.— Stephan Ekbergh, CEO Travelstart
The one thing that fuels e-commerce, is trust. Trust is the thing, when you take up your plastic, you'll get the service you have requested.— Stephan Ekbergh, CEO Travelstart
Ekbergh says the thing holding back e-commerce in this country, is South Africans have a culture of distrust.
He says South Africa is the most wonderful country and he sees no reason why a city like Cape Town can't become an IT centre. As people globally search for quality of life and interesting jobs, he says Cape Town could become a hub to draw people here to settle and work.