Photo: The LekkeSlaap team at their offices in Westlake, Cape Town I Source: LekkeSlaap.co.za
HumanIPO spoke to Denise Neethling, marketing manager at LekkeSlaap and Marcel van de Ghinste, director at the English version, TravelGround, about the swift success rate of the award-winning South African accommodation online booking businesses.
HumanIPO: Why do you think the service is so popular?
Neethling: It's gaining popularity because no matter how comfortable you are in another language, nothing beats doing things in your mother tongue. It's all about being in your comfort zone.
There's no fear that someone is trying to sway you with words you don't understand. Us Afrikaans speakers are very proud of our language and being able to do things in Afrikaans makes us feel more at home.
Do you think Afrikaans people underestimate the national popularity of services in their mother tongue?
Neethling: Definitely. It feels like the popularity of Afrikaans has been increasing in South Africa over the past few years and it's still going strong. Afrikaans has its 'cool' status back, but its popularity has been underestimated in terms of e-commerce.
Afrikaans speakers are very patriotic and although most are accustomed to speaking English, especially when it comes to online services, offering LekkeSlaap in their mother tongue immediately gives it the edge.
Straight away, LekkeSlaap was adopted as a brand that Afrikaans speakers could form a community around - just look at the response on Facebook!
Does the service only support Afrikaans-speaking accommodation hosts?
Neethling: Oh no, although the service we offer to guests on LekkeSlaap is done exclusively in Afrikaans, we support hosts in both English and Afrikaans.
Our sister site, TravelGround.com, is more English so we are quite a bilingual office, and all accommodation establishments that are presented on LekkeSlaap in Afrikaans are also presented on TravelGround in English.
We even pay for professional translations to be done for English-speaking accommodation hosts to ensure that every word on LekkeSlaap is written in beautiful Afrikaans.
How did the creational approach of LekkeSlaap differ with TravelGround?
Van de Ghinste: When we launched TravelGround we didn’t know anything about this business. It was a slow, iterative approach that required a lot of learning before we could achieve proper product-market fit. LekkeSlaap has been entirely different.
We’ve taken the lessons we’ve learned from TravelGround and it’s allowed us to create a unique, compelling and incredibly high-quality product incredibly fast. We knew what people wanted – we just needed to execute.
I’m sure that there is still room for improvement (there always is), but our previous experience has allowed us to launch with a best-in-class product on day one, and the results speak for themselves.
What will you say are the three top 'ingredients' for a successful website?
Van de Ghinste: There are certain prerequisites to success for a customer-facing website – mainly ensuring that you have great, accessible customer service (which is something we pride ourselves on) and ensuring that your software is of the highest calibre. But at the end of the day, you will only be successful if you’re building something that people want – and that’s where it seems LekkeSlaap may have got it right.