More Internet use crucial to tourism growth

May 6, 2014
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 E-Tourism Frontiers is a global programme to develop online tourism in emerging markets around the world which is yet to hold the fourth E-Tourism East Africa Conference from June 9 this year. Photo/ COURTESY

E-Tourism Frontiers is a global programme to develop online tourism in emerging markets around the world which is yet to hold the fourth E-Tourism East Africa Conference from June 9 this year. Photo/ COURTESY

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 6 – Players in the local tourism sector may now be forced to change their marketing strategies if they are to grow revenues and remain in competition, in the face of insecurity and other occasional shocks.

E-Tourism Frontiers CEO Damian Cook says this will be through leveraging on the global increased use of the Internet especially social media.

He says according to global research by Google Confidential and Proprietary, 91 percent of online adults use social media every day with 40 percent of all average time being spent on social networking.

“It is high time we invest on quality Internet in most of these hotels and tourist sites because people are with their mobile phones and iPads ready to send their experiences to their friend while on travel,” he said. “These are not the days when travellers would wait to go back home and share the photos with their families and friends.”

Social media has become more popular and powerful than television and print media combined, a tool he says the tourism players could take advantage of.

He however says that most players especially in the hotel industry are yet to fully embrace the use of the Internet to market their products yet 96 percent of all travellers globally start their research on the Internet.

On the other hand over 58 percent of all travel is now researched, booked, bought and sold online.

“You can have a Facebook page but few people are talking about it. We should engage with our audience and tell them to post their experiences. It is high time we encourage those who visit us to post photographs and video about our products on their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and others,” he urges.

According to the Sales Director at Intercontinental Hotel, Peter Olale Awuor, 36 percent of their revenues was contributed by online booking last year a number they expect to grow by 2 percent this year.

“Internet is a very convenient tool and to be honest, it requires less cost compared to other channels that call for us to pay commissions like tour operators,” Olale told Capital FM Business.

The tourism players have also been urged focus more on growing the revenue, not necessarily through seeking increase in numbers of tourists, but raising the value of their products. This will compel visitors to pay more and enjoy more.

“We may still have increase in numbers but less revenue. For example if it’s a golf competition in Maasai Mara, it will be how different the competition will be, away from the usual golf competition,” he says.

E-Tourism Frontiers is a global programme to develop online tourism in emerging markets around the world which is yet to hold the fourth E-Tourism East Africa Conference from June 9 this year.

The conference will bring together some of the world’s leading experts on online tourism including Trip Advisor, Expedia and for the first time in Kenya, Facebook will be presenting.

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