Township B&B booking website launches

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The KasiAccom team present their online booking startup to township B&B owners at the Graham Hotel. Photo: Sue Maclennan

A number of Joza B&Bs have listed with online booking startup, KasiAccom.

At the recent launch at the Graham Hotel, entrepreneurs John Rammutla and Chellens Makondo told B&B owners that they could list on KasiAccom for free.

KasiAccom would take 7% commission on bookings and the site’s developer was working on a secure online payment system, Rammutla said.

Extension 6 B&B owner Notyolo Bungane said she would try out the listing. Her three-star accommodation is a favourite with company employees seconded to Makhanda (Grahamstown) from larger centres.

Kwam eMakana-affiliated B&B owner Buyiswa Dywili said, “I think it is a good idea because we don’t manage to put our B&Bs on websites. So we have no business throughout the year except Festival. I think maybe we are going to get something out of this.”

Rammutla and Makondo are upbeat about the future of township accommodation. In their statement on the website, Rammutla and Makondo write: “We thought, wouldn’t it be great if they could be one online platform where all South Africans and tourists from around the world could always go and have access to thousands and thousands of listed township accommodation/properties from the comfort of their mobile devices and computers.”

The KasiAccom team promised to take photographs of local township B&Bs for the website.

Asked how they check the quality of the establishments advertised on their website, Rammutla told Grocott’s Mail that KasiAccom has a team of dedicated ambassadors across South Africa.

“They are always ready to visit the accommodations listed on our platform and confirm the physical addresses provided on the website,” Rammutla said. “Verified properties will have a green sticker on them labelled “verified”. This is in line with KasiAccom’s commitment to ensuring that safety of our users remains a top priority.”

Rammutla said they decided to launch KasiAccom here in Makhanda (Grahamstown) because this was where he first experienced the struggle of finding decent and safe accommodation in the township areas.

“When I arrived in Grahamstown last year in September, I tried to look and search online for a site where I can look at a range of accommodation showing pictures, features and prices for ease of comparison,” Rammutla told Grocott’s Mail. “I found nothing.”

Affordable and safe

Then he began to ask, Is there actually decent, affordable and safe accommodation in the township areas of South Africa and is there an easy and safe way of accessing it?.

“This led me on a journey and after some research, I discovered that, yes, there is accommodation ranging from short term to long term – but there is very limited safe and reliable access to it.”

During his research, Rammutla also learnt that the only support and assistance the township accommodation businesses receive comes from the municipalities’ tourism divisions.

“I applaud municipalities who actually make the effort to offer a helping hand to these businesses,” Rammutla said. “I discovered, however, that most township B&B owners had serious challenges paying the municipalities’ tourism departments the stipulated yearly flat fees required if the B&B is to remain listed on the municipal database.”

Service fee

This was where KasiAccom came in.

“Not to undermine the efforts of the municipality to help township accommodation businesses, but to complement their efforts,” Rammutla said. “With KasiAccom, landlords do not pay anything to list their accommodation with us: they do not pay any flat monthly or yearly fees.

“Starting 1 June 2019, across South Africa, KasiAccom will be introducing an in-built booking system for guests to book township B&Bs online instantly. This will come with a low 7% service fee per booking transaction completed through KasiAccom, the lowest service fee in the market.

“We have structured our business model in such a way that B&B owners do not pay us anything if we do not get them guests. They get charged only when we bring guests to them.”

Rammutla was born in Limpopo province and matriculated in 2010 from Ramogabudi Secondary School. He graduate with a BSc Civil Engineering degree in 2015 at the University of Cape Town. He is currently working as a Candidate Engineer and doing a part-time MSc in Transport Studies (Civil Engineering) at UCT.

“I am passionate and determined to contribute to the development of our country, local communities in particular,” Rammutla told Grocott’s Mail.

Alongside his professional work and KasiAccom, he also runs a non-profit-organisation called HiAfrica that aims to empower and develop young people from rural communities of South Africa.

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