Yinka Folami, vice-president, Lagos zone, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), is not pedestrian in thought and action. He bestrides the travel trade sector with futuristic ideas and, above all, shares his dreams. He is not stingy and, from his younger days, he made a Catholic creed to help his friends up the ladder, nudging the weak to a refreshing rewarding lifetime achievements.
A dedicated Moslem, tolerant of other religious beliefs, Yinka Folami goes out of his way to write his name in the hearts of men. As a young travel trade and tourism turk, called to serve nation and people at this very trying times in the life of our nation, particularly travel trade business, Yinka Folami birthed Nigeria’s first all-inclusive, collaborative travel agency platform, providing physical and virtual offices and facilities, pro bono ( at no cost).
This initiative aggregates the collaborative purchases of airline tickets and related travel products, salvaging the souls and conducts of members for regulatory compliance.
It rooms cultural offering for the collective, through Cooperative Society (Esusu) and access capacity building across various frontiers. A very promising solution to guide new entrants and those wishing to make a profession out of one of the world’s biggest trade sectors, Travel Hub certainly came when hope appeared to have gained wings and was about to fly out of the country.
Yinka Folami, CEO, Travel Hub, told me he was really bothered about the growing population of travel agents without roof over their heads and a decent environment to trade and do business. And since he should know, as the leader of travel agents in Lagos, generating the biggest profitable returns to the airlines and revenue to government, Yinka Folami knew investment for the growth of the sector beclouded by poor infrastructure and start-up financial capacity, must be addressed.
“It is my dream to offer to help, to get travel agents off the streets, give them identify and address. It is a passion and we are targeting those who are passionate and can launch out. The big players should collaborate. The era of domineering and colonialising trade opportunities is gone. So, we created and introduced Travel Hub, a solution to a very tough question that has troubled many people for generations.”
Yinka Folami is not done yet and noted, “We wish to open up conversations here, a kind of travel trade evangelism, a reach-out to the faceless community of upcoming operators hidden in nooks and crannies of the nation, but buffeted by the many struggles of life, and also to discourage the travelling public from falling victims to scammers, thereby redeeming the credibility of genuine and professional travel trade practitioners whose corporate image get soiled by actions and activities of fraudsters in the industry.”
Are there more gains to being a “Hubber”? Yinka Folami nodded and affirmed the following gains: continuous training, in-house GDS support, airlines’ briefings and incentives, aggregation of best fares, best travel and tourism buys, visa and protocols, work stations and meeting rooms.
Not done yet, Yinka Folami added that the Hubbers will gain insight and be assisted on zero bank guarantee, financial advisory, process of getting regulatory compliance, getting professional identify and catering services.
NANTA president, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, who spoke with me on Travel Hub, says the effort is welcome and came at the right time. “We love the initiative and have been praying for this at our various meetings. So, our prayers have been answered. Travel Hub benefits are legion and I am happy it’s coming at a period like this in the industry.”
Travel trade oracle and chairman, board of trustees, NANTA, Mr. Dayo Adeola, says the platform provides a gangplank to share prosperity and lubricate the sector, particularly for upcoming young operators who are in dire need of oxygen of survival.
“These guys work hard, hold the bastion of hope and spirit of the trade, yet suffer neglect, walking the streets, seen by many as touts without address. Travel Hub has come to change that image and provided not only address but technical and administrative support for the growth of the passionate agency or agent to who wishes to be recognized and rewarded.”