Key milestones Jurni has achieved over the past year
One year ago, in May 2019, Jurni took to the stage at Durban’s Travel Indaba to launch an exciting new venture expected to bring incredible innovation to the South African tourism industry.
Nobody could have predicted that one year later, tourism around the world would have been brought to a complete standstill. Despite the challenges of our current situation, Jurni’s CMO Tshepo Matlou decided to catch up with Jurni CEO Dr Nomvuselelo Songelwa to chat about what the company has achieved in just one year.
An introduction to Jurni
Jurni is a ground-breaking initiative that was established to empower the South African travel and tourism industry to make strategic decisions by providing credible insights through an online centralised digital platform.
A number of years ago, the public and private sector discussed investment opportunities in South Africa. As part of the national tourism strategy, several industry players identified a significant gap that needed to be addressed in the sector: the availability of relevant and reliable data.
This is how the idea of Jurni emerged. We offer and manage a centralised digital platform that integrates new as well as existing digital solutions.
We are NOT a tourism agency that is using data. Instead, we are a data management company serving the tourism industry.
What are some of Jurni’s proudest achievements over the past year?
The Jurni Team
At the time of the launch, we had already a fantastic and competent team. This amazing team is what is driving Jurni forward during the storm we are facing today.
In May last year, this team promised to deliver three core projects that had been identified as deliverables of Jurni in the concept document. These three core projects are: the data hub, the booking tool and the visitor hub.
The Jurni Strategy
Within two months of the soft launch, the Jurni team had crafted a strategy that is translating the concept into concrete deliverables. We also established a common vision as a team that was true to our principles.
The Jurni Brand
One year ago, the Jurni brand didn’t exist. We’re excited that with the collaboration of the public and the private sector, we were able to launch a powerful company that is known by most in South Africa’s tourism industry. We’ve travelled across the provinces to talk about who we are, what we’re doing, and the value we add. Today, there are very few people within the industry who don’t know Jurni and we would like to thank the industry at large for their support.
Jurni appointed a number of ‘contact’ agents to support the industry when it comes to using digital solutions. While travelling the country last year, we realised that there is a real need to focus on how to use technology in an efficient manner. We felt it was our responsibility to provide that support and training, which is why we appointed a number of ambitious youngsters who offer tech support on-site.
The Jurni Booking Tool and Data Hub
In December, we organised a soft launch of the Jurni Booking Tool and the Jurni Data Hub. These two products are now live and ready to be utilised by the industry.
What are some of the challenges Jurni encountered?
Jurni is an initiative that has not been undertaken anywhere else in the world, so it’s only natural to encounter a number of challenges. The first challenge was to gain the trust of stakeholders in the industry. We had the support of many external stakeholders who were part of the conceptualisation of Jurni, but others were cautiously optimistic.
What gave Jurni credibility is the fact that we have the support of a number of major national associations and their members, such as the TBCSA. The TBCSA and their affiliate members are currently also guiding us to develop our online digital platform. The National Department of Tourism has also extended its support and this support shows people that we are not a fly-by-night organisation. What Jurni is offering is a long-overdue solution the industry has been demanding for years. The Jurni team is implementing that vision and solution.
Financing is another major challenge. Jurni has been established with seed funding, but there is an expectation that the organisation becomes financially sustainable. We are happy to say that this is part of the infrastructure we have developed. We have put in place a strong commercial strategy to make sure we are able to generate revenue.
What is Jurni’s message to the tourism industry?
It’s important to realise that Jurni was established to fill a gap in the industry and fulfil the needs of the industry. Our business model is to go out and create the solutions for the industry needs.
The industry also needs to know that the intellectual property generated from this online platform belongs to the Department of Tourism. People can therefore rest assured that the governance and also the policies around the protection of personal information are adhered to.
It’s important to our industry that everyone participates to build a robust data hub. The booking system is also in place. Jurni’s call to the industry is that we are looking for strategic partners to collaborate in terms of enhancing the data that can be stored into the facility. Whether you are a supplier or a consumer, we will offer a customised solution and provide insights based on enhanced data.
Small and Medium Enterprises will benefit from a booking tool that prioritises their needs. So, reach out to us and we will help you with valuable solutions to your business.
Let’s build a centralised data hub for the benefit of the industry! The times of us working in isolation are over. We need to collaborate in order to make strategic decisions for the benefit of everyone in the country!