An African safari is one of life’s most incredible experiences, from the open plains of the Serengeti, to the mysterious waterways of the Okavango Delta, it’s a never-ending array of landscapes and wildlife. From encounters with the celebrated Big 5, staying in luxury safari camps and lodges, or engaging in experiential activities from guided bush walks to hot air-ballooning, Go2Africa specializes in curating tailor-made safaris to Africa.
The multi-award-winning South African travel provider, entering its 25th year of business, is deeply rooted in the places it sends its travelers to. All trip-planning experts are African born and raised, and collectively spend more than 365 days each year on safari, ensuring the best first-hand knowledge of each destination. Go2Africa works with more than 3,000 safari partners from Nairobi to Cape Town, invested in many efforts linked to those places to promote a sustainable and prosperous future for Africa’s natural ecosystems and the people who live there.
Go2Africa has long embraced the positive role technology can play in promoting international tourism, and to this end have built a custom booking platform to digitize and streamline booking processes with suppliers, and present trip itineraries and costs in easy-to-view dashboards for travelers. But, in stark contrast to the rest of the booking experience, payments presented a point of friction for customers – something finance team members Riëth Moodie and Maageda Sheik set out to rectify.
Go2Africa at a glance
Taken off-road on payments
When their previous payment provider restricted use of its services for business within the travel industry, Go2Africa was forced to move off the technology and onto a South African payments provider. Whilst beneficial as a local backup, this provider had shortcomings when it came to processing high-value international payments.
Firstly, it couldn’t automate currency conversion, leaving travelers having to calculate that on their own, and Go2Africa receiving all payments in ZAR. This was an issue because many of its suppliers prefer to receive payment in USD. Go2Africa had to perform the additional step of currency conversion, as well as assume FX risk, internally.
What’s more, while well-intentioned, security provisions built into their previous provider worked fine for local payments, it created real roadblocks to international ones. Payment authentication steps resulted in users either failing to receive OTP codes or the system not working altogether, holding up payments and necessitating lengthy phone calls with banks and clients.
“Clients would say, ‘I’m trying to pay, but I can’t’,” Moodie said. “Coming out of COVID and its devastating effects on the industry, it was hard enough to get clients to travel again. Now, at the final stage of committing, they had an additional barrier.”
Flywire just makes everything easier. The important thing for us was to improve the customers’ journey. Flywire makes the payments process as smooth as possible.
To fix these issues, Go2Africa implemented Flywire in late 2021. Travelers can see up-front what they’ll be charged in their local currency, and book the payment online in that currency using a local credit card. Go2Africa receives payment in USD and ZAR – making it much easier to pay suppliers and mitigating FX risk. Go2Africa also appreciates that it has a dedicated account manager, a benefit not provided by Stripe.
“It’s nice to have an actual person - Annie. Sometimes you have a support team, but you just get forwarded to a pool of people. We now have a dedicated person to be able to pick their brain, as and when we need,” Sheik said.
Most importantly, Flywire provides the highest levels of security for customer payments without introducing unnecessary friction in the customer experience – or to the finance team. Go2Africa is saving up to 6 hours a week spent fielding payments-related questions from clients. Go2Africa believes the clarity, trust and ease of use of Flywire makes it easier for clients to commit to a trip.
It's nice to have an actual person - Annie. Sometimes you have a support team, but you just get forwarded to a pool of people. We have that dedicated person to pick their brain, as and when we need.
Senior Manager, Client Success & Operations
"We're constantly listening to our clients and incorporating their feedback onto our product roadmap."
Expedition: Exponential growth
Its peak travel season begins in June, and Go2Africa is already off to a record start. In December of 2022, the company had its highest sales month since its inception, and is well on its way to hitting new targets in 2023.
“Our business is growing exponentially at this stage. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve. With Flywire, we save money and time, and can allocate that to other things. We have time to do analysis and get insights, and to do the more valuable things within our journeys,” Moodie said. “It’s been quite enjoyable.”