The online wave of travel solutions

August 12, 2010 – A wave of new online travel solutions, especially relating to E-Commerce will be unveiled for the first time at the upcoming E Tourism East Africa Conference in Nairobi on the 2nd and 3rd of September this year.

The conference, which is being sponsored by Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), Safaricom and the Crowne Plaza Hotel will feature leading global players such as Trip Advisor, Expedia and – the world’s largest travel focused social media site. The international experts will be giving presentations at the two-day conference, on how East Africa’s tourism sector can harness the potential of the web, especially following the enormous interest generated in Africa from the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

KCB, a lead sponsor of the E Tourism East Africa Conference, said: “The Tourism sector is hugely important to the growth and development of the region’s economies. The introduction of e-commerce in Kenya is an added opportunity for KCB to develop an innovative online booking solution,” said KCB Divisional Director Treasury, David Thuo.

He went on to say, “The online booking solution allows for online transactions and reservations that are vital ingredients needed for the future of tourism across East Africa. The tourism sector will have an easy and affordable solution that will give access to reservations and management of online payments. With so many products and services being purchased online today, we want to ensure that the tourism sector knows the value and benefits of accepting online payments,” said Thuo.

Safaricom through the Easy Travel portal is also a key sponsor. Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph said; “We are a key service provider to the tourism sector and we have the right infrastructure in place to help promote this industry through an integrated service that incorporates both booking and payment functions”.

He went on to say, “We will be improving the online reservation system that will allow for hotels to be included on our Easy Travel site. We are especially focused on the domestic market, buoyed by growing awareness about how easy it is to book and pay online in real time using M-PESA, our globally-acclaimed mobile money transfer service. Our eventual aim is to increase the utility of the mobile phone to our subscribers and position our data services as a solution to everyday challenges. We hope that the E Tourism East Africa Conference will help deepen awareness within the sector on the need to conduct business online for greater efficiency and customer satisfaction.”

Damian Cook, the CEO of E Tourism Frontiers, said that alongside the international speakers at this year’s summit, there will also be an impressive number of Africa-based companies and projects presenting new and innovative ways of promoting and selling Africa online.

“We have some amazing projects in our line up this year- including some exciting local products and projects from Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. We will be presenting a case study of the Friend a Gorilla project which made Uganda’s gorillas individual members of Facebook and their updates and followers made them a social media success story- with increased bookings and massive global media coverage”, said Cook.

The E-Tourism Frontiers CEO summed up,  “African Travel companies have seen the success of tourist produced online viral videos such as the Battle of Kruger, which has been viewed by over 50 million people, and they are now creating platforms for user generated content, reviews and discussions of their products. More companies are also using Twitter and Facebook to develop strong networks of supporters and consumers. The web has really made it easy for small players to use technology, creativity and innovation to make a big connection with global markets.” said Damian Cook.