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Kechi Sheidu: Tourists Travelling to Dubai spent $30bn in 2018

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Faith Agua
The Abuja Times Newspaper

The Abuja Times had an interview with Kechi Richard Sheidu of Kahera Global.

Kechi is a multifaceted, hard-working businesswoman, with a strong background in Travel and Tourism. She is the founder and current CEO of Kahera Global which consists of Kahera Travels; a luxury travel and concierge company, and Kahera Aviation; a leading aviation consultancy company- both servicing clients from around the world. 

Kechi has grown Kahera to be one of the leading luxury travel companies in the African market.  She has been called upon on a number of occasions to be advisors to leaders in Nigeria, Airline start-ups and Tourism boards around the world.

In 2015 she started Kahera Travels after living in Barbados, West Indies, where she was heavily involved in their tourism industry.

Tell us something about your experience in the travel space. The biggest personal experience is realizing how essential travel and tourism are to a country’s economic development.  Think of countries such as Barbados that runs solely on tourism. Most of the top celebrities around the world have purchased a home on the island. Do I even need to talk about Dubai? They enjoy an increase of tourists year on year.  A total of $30.82 billion was spent in 2018 by overnight international visitors in Dubai, a 3.8% increase over 2017 ($29.70 billion). This City brings in the most tourist dollars worldwide! A City that started development in 1966- look at how far they have come in just 54 years! Bringing it closer to home, Rwanda and Ghana are growing at an exponential rate!  I mean Ghana will annually gain US$8.3 billion from the tourism sector per year by the year 2027 on the back of an estimated 4.3 million international tourist arrivals. Whether its leisure or business tourism, if a country is not focused on investing in their tourism sector, and by that, I mean combat issues such as insecurity and basic infrastructure, it could hurt their development and exclude them from billions of dollars being enjoyed by their counterparts.

How do you imagine a typical day at work? The wonderful thing about working in the travel and tourism space is that there’s no ‘typical’ day at work as we are always working on wonderful, unique travel packages or providing consultation to an airline start-up! We never know what kind of request we’ll get and that’s part of why our clients love working with us, any service in travel, tourism, and aviation, you can always reach out to us!

In your opinion, what matters the most in the travel space? Price, product, or communication? I can only pick one?! You can’t talk about one without the other! Each of them is so important, however, I personally believe Product, then Communication is the most important, followed by price. One can find amazing travel packages that tick all their travel needs, that is the initial attraction! Then it’s the price.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in Tourism? Tourism has always been a passion of mine. I come from a big family so I was the in-house travel agent until my late uncle (God rest his soul) suggested I turn my passion into a career and I did just that! I got my IATA qualification and opened Kahera about 5 years ago and I haven’t looked back!

Is there a luxury travel market in Nigeria? Give percentages etc. There is definitely a luxury travel market in Nigeria. It didn’t take long before we started growing our client base as we felt there was a gap in the market for premium travelers. The needs of travelers are changing and we have found that they want a more personal and customized service.  If you think about the highest spenders around the world: London, Dubai, etc, Nigerians are still in the top 5 and they need to have a luxury travel partner that can adhere to their [unique] requests. The difference with working with us, although we focus on luxury travel, is the experience and not the price! We treat every client like VIPs!

What is the most difficult part of being a Tourism entrepreneur? The difficult part is the fact that I make all the decisions (the good, bad and ugly) and that can be quite a burden to bear! From the beginning decided to focus on the luxury market was a big risk but it’s a risk that has paid off! Another difficulty relates to forces against our control such as natural disasters in holiday destinations, flight cancellations, and strikes to medical emergencies such as the current coronavirus. We had this fantastic multi-country tour package that started in China but given the unfortunate situation we’ve had to cancel. Planning ahead is also difficult until the virus is fully contained.

What recommendations would you give a couple looking for a romantic getaway? For a couple looking for a romantic getaway, I would always recommend that they create a budget and stick to it, the best way to maintain that is to stay in an all-inclusive resort! Trust me, you want to relax and enjoy each other and not worry about where you’re going to have lunch or dinner or enjoy activities. All-inclusive resorts take away a lot of holiday stress! We have so many favorites around the world!

Give us your top 5 favorite island destinations for a newly married couple. Only 5?? Ok, here we go. A newly married couple should experience the following island destinations. The great thing about this list is we work with some fantastic hospitality providers from each island and already have all-inclusive packages, whatever the budget: Mauritius, Cape Verde, Kenya,
Réunion and, Madagascar.

What is the most rewarding part of being a Tourism entrepreneur? Customer satisfaction is the most rewarding!! Word of mouth is still one of the best and fastest forms of advertising. We love getting calls, emails, DMs, WhatsApp messages saying, “I heard you guys are amazing, my friends just got back from their holiday and they can’t stop talking about Kahera Travels… I want to plan a group trip..” I am smiling now thinking about it! When a customer is satisfied there’s no better feeling and validation that your business is viable, relevant and growing!

What do you look for in a vacation package for your clients? In a vacation package, I always ensure its actually desirable; I always think- would I personally buy this travel package? Most clients want us to plan absolutely every aspect of their itinerary so I ensure that from the airport transfers to the hotel are up to our standards, that’s why we only work with travel providers of a certain level. Next, I focus on the price, we endeavor to stick within the client’s budget and try to offer some additional perks such as a free hotel upgrade. Value for money is so essential and I always see how we can enhance a client’s travel experience.

What are the biggest challenges in your industry, in Abuja? Our biggest challenge in Abuja is convincing prospective clients why working with travel consultants is a benefit and it’s due to the numerous unqualified and/or unprofessional travel companies in the industry. When they tell us about their past experiences I am horrified, especially when their bad experience is from notable travel companies who should know better!

It really does frustrate me because travel is a pleasure to look forward to and can cause anxiety to some, so if there’s a company that’s making that experience worse then why would they want to work with them again?!  Luckily, we are customer-focused and ensure prospective clients that working with us means working with a flexible organization who ensures their services are customer-driven, we work on your own terms, budget and time!

What does your service include? (List cruises et al) We offer a plethora of services: visa consultation, flight & hotel reservations, group and conference journey management, cruises, tours, private jet charters, an aviation consultancy, concierge services. Anything within the travel and tourism space, just call Kahera!

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