SA holiday bookings portal rebrands and secures new funding in the face of Airbnb competition

South African online travel and accommodation portal, Accommodation Direct has changed its name to after closing its latest funding round, drawing in R7 million worth of investment in 2017.

According to the group, the name change comes as it seeks to leave a more remarkable impact on its users.

“We felt it was time for a new fresh look, and a brand that better reflected our identity: simple, easy online bookings combined with friendly customer service,” said Afristay CEO, Rupert Bryant.

Afristay has also secured R7 million in funding, R1.5 million of which came from two foreign investors. The rest was raised by founders, Oliver Bryant and Ric Meulemans, as well as the CEO himself. The funding was secured earlier in 2017.

Bryant said that the company now employs 50 full-time staff, processing around R4 million in bookings each month – doubling in size every six months. The group aims to process R50 million worth of bookings in 2017, he said.

Afristay was established in 2006, and  competes locally with Airbnb which launched in South Africa in 2015. The global group boasted in May 2017 that it generated an estimated R2.4 billion in total economic activity in 2016 – the sum of guest spending and host income.

Bryant said that Afristay has certain advantages over Airbnb, being a local company, and offers greater value by cutting out the fees that Airbnb forces onto guests.

“We can typically offer the better price on accommodation since we have no guest booking fees (Airbnb charges up around 7%). Also, our customer service is top notch,” he said.

“You can pick up the phone anytime – call us, and we answer. We make a big effort to take good care of our guests and property managers and ensure their experience is superb, from start to finish.”

Afristay also has over 35 consultants who are experts at travel for the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa, he said.

“We’ve come a long way since we launched back in 2006 – this is just the start of many more exciting upcoming developments,” Bryant said.

Read: The most expensive holiday destinations in South Africa

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SA holiday bookings portal rebrands and secures new funding in the face of Airbnb competition