Annabel Bonney, a “serial” entrepreneur and travel specialist, life coach with experience in lifestyle, fashion, TV presentation/production, customer service and founder of Travel Africa and Travevo Travel and Migration Agency, spoke to ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA about his time in the world of travel
Annabel Bonney has a mixed heritage as she has a Nigerian mother from Cross River State and a Ghanaian father from Cape Coast. She had her primary and secondary education in Cross River State while her university education was in Ghana where she studied Human Resource Management at the University of Cape Coast, supplementing it with a number of courses in certificate from a few institutions such as Event Academy certifications. and Chartered Institute of Marketing UK and Lagos Aviation Academy. In addition to describing herself as a “serial” entrepreneur, she says; ”I am a travel consultant, real estate agent, humanitarian, author and speaker. I’m also an adrenaline junkie, it’s just safe to add that.” Bonney says she is too; ” Committed to promoting the well-being of others through charitable or philanthropic work and by donating time and resources to good causes. ”In 2017, she founded Travevo Travel and Migration Agency to help families and groups, including corporate entities, explore the world, or also migrate through study and work permits. Given her mixed heritage, over the years she has become a true lover of Africa and a promoter of her beloved continent, as she believes in the growth and development of Africa and is passionate for the world sees the authenticity and richness of resources, culture and people. from Africa. To that end, she founded Travel Africa, a travel agency specializing in Afro tourism and connecting black Americans in the diaspora to their roots. She welcomed in a short time more than 80 black Americans in Lagos and more than 160 in West Africa. She paints a colorful picture of her continent and how best to explore its tourist wealth, saying; “Africa is beautiful, untapped and the next big thing, we need collective synergy between people and government to address
The love of adventure fueled by my sailor father
Growing up in two different worlds but on the same continent, for her, was very interesting but more than that, having a sailor father, with whom she formed close affinities, ignited the adventurous muse in her. ”Growing up was very interesting, I grew up in a small family but a big extended family. I had a very simple and happy childhood. My mum was a businesswoman and my dad a sailor, that’s probably where I got my adventurous line from,” she says.
A balance of two worlds
Her trajectory in life has been impacted beautifully by the merging of her two worlds, as she says, “Oh, I think I have a balance between the two worlds. A German friend once described me as having the integrity of a Ghanaian and the work ethic of a Nigerian. I loved it because it was pretty accurate. ”Nigerians have a tenacious work ethic but can be very cunning in various ways always trying to outdo themselves while Ghanaians are more laid back but very truthful people. So I get the chance to embody both characters and more like being caring, respectful and hospitable,’ she says of her personal traits. These latter traits, in addition to her love for adventure, inspired her choice of travel company as she tells you her inspiration was; ”my love for travel, adventure, food diversity, people and cultural diversity.”
Breaking into the travel business has been the hardest thing for me
However, establishing a foothold in the travel business, she said, was not like a walk in the park. ”Not easy at all, the first year of Travevo Consulting was the most difficult, typical of any new start-up. But I persevered, we started to gain good traction and referrals in our third year in business.
It is an extremely profitable business
Having gained popularity and recognition as one of the travel specialists for your one stop travel solution, she claims that tourism is highly profitable, saying; “extremely profitable, however, the travel business is a numbers game for you to break even and be sustainable. ”
I am passionate about encouraging people to be the best
She explains why she offers migration services, saying; ”I really encourage our young minds to migrate to study abroad if they can afford it because unfortunately they are better appreciated abroad, our cost of living may be low but our minimum wage is terrible. ”These children can work in a white collar job and earn peanuts compared to their counterparts abroad, emigrating abroad gives you the opportunity to build wealth quickly. You feel better compensated for your knowledge and your time. For me, I’m passionate about encouraging people to be their best selves. Thus, we are able to advise you and process the admission according to your tastes and your budget. Her response is quite revealing as she outlined a number of them, starting with funding and visa processing, which are close to her heart; ”I feel like there is a vendetta against the Nigerian passport holder going on among embassies and consulates, and anyone looking for information can check it out. Visa assurance for the holder of a Nigerian passport has dropped significantly, a Nigerian will need to prove and reprimand to easily obtain the same visa that another national is applying for. ”Most embassies treat Nigerian applicants with such disdain and nonchalance. Nobody does anything about it, nobody cares, you can’t treat an American or German citizen like that in their country.
“Even our government doesn’t value our lives and property, so why should any other government care?”
Many Nigerians are starting to engage in travel business especially domestically organized tours. Bonney says this is quite commendable, explaining the reasons for this development. ”It’s two things, either the love of adventure or the money. For the most part, when they see a package costing between 200,000 and 1.5 million naira or more, they feel that most of the money goes to the agent.
They think you have to make a lot of money, so they come and see it’s not that fast. It takes time to build trust, get volume and all that, and then they get tired and give up on the job. His advice to these young, aspiring millennial tour operators is: “Tour for love and fun; Be a good ambassador for change because sometimes you visit most places that have great tourism potential but they don’t know what to do with it so you have the knowledge to come up with solutions on how they can try to add value to their strengths. ”I did this for Obudu Mountain Resort, I am currently doing the same for the Makoko community.
This is the same community that the previous Lagos State government wanted to destroy. “How do you want to evacuate and destroy a tourist paradise like Makoko? The houses on the silts are tourist attractions on their own. Ghana has it, Benin has it, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and even Veneto in Italy have it. People pay millions to go and experience these places. I have plans for Makoko by the grace of God because I want to make it a tourist paradise. The dice are cast, it’s my dream and everyone is welcome to join the movement.”
I’m addicted to fun and adventure
It would have been different if Bonney wasn’t an adventure lover given that she shines when she explores and has found ways to draw others into her world of cutting-edge adventures, because she tells you that going on an adventure relaxes her. ”I’m a fun and adventure junkie. I like good vibes, I like to always be happy. I like to be in a positive state of mind. You would find me at the nearest beach and look at me. The water calms me and makes me think or I travel or I dance salsa or I find a chic lounge to dine and drink wine. I like to try new dishes or restaurants.”
The ambience of Obudu Mountain Resort would always leave you amazed
For her, Obudu Mountain Resort remains her top rated destination in Nigeria not because it is Cross Riverian but for the sheer awe and natural flatness of the enclave. “I’m not even biased because I’m Cross Riverian but because it’s the truth. The atmosphere in Obudu always leaves you in awe,” she said. While she tells you that Dubai is her number one outgoing destination; “Due to endless adventures, you cannot exhaust Dubai adventures even on your 30th visit, every time you return there is always something new to do or see.” For the future, she chooses the plateau of Mambilla as an essential destination for her. ”It must be Mambila Plateau in Taraba State. A few of my colleagues have been there and the pictures just don’t do it justice. Some destinations just have a way of leaving you lost, found, or pondering. You learn to appreciate the greatness of God. It’s incredible.”
I derive satisfaction from putting smiles on people’s faces
Its fulfillment does not come from corporate gold and pomp, but rather from putting smiles on people’s faces and helping them achieve their ambition, a better life and the adventure of a lifetime. ”When someone calls to say thank you, I have horses or I have arrived in a particular country, it gives me all the joy in the world because I believe I have helped change the trajectory of life from someone.
I had a student I helped get admitted to Poland, in five months he changed jobs; from factory worker to multinational then banker. “He is currently working as a junior manager in a bank earning N930,000 per month. He still can’t believe how much his life has changed. I mean come from N200,000 salary to N930,000 monthly salary. “It’s breathtaking,” she enthuses.