Tourism players in the sector should make better use of the internet and social media to market and manage their destinations and businesses.
This was said by Mr. Damian Cook, the CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers, at the fifth E-Tourism East Africa Conference that officially kicked off in Nairobi.
Emphasizing on the importance of online tourism Mr. Damian Cook, the CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers, said, “With over 69% of travellers now beginning their search online and seeing there has been a 50% increase in mobile use across business and leisure travellers, with 30% relying purely on their mobiles to make last minute bookings, it is critical that tourism players in the sector make better use of the internet and social media to market and manage their destinations and businesses.”
The fifth E-Tourism East Africa Conference will focus on how the African travel business has come of age and how Africa is approaching a digital domination of the travel business.
Driven by local innovation and global market forces a new landscape has been shaped and most of destinations and businesses have embraced or at least appreciate the vital role of online.
The conference will also feature a preview of the digital components of the new global Make It Kenya campaign which is a campaign that was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta, in September.
The international brand campaign was introduced by the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism (MEAACT) to promote and enhance Kenya’s position as a global leader in tourism, commerce and investment. The launch included the activation of a new digital portal MakeItKenya.com and supporting social media platforms.
According to a recent study by PhoCusWright, the online travel market worldwide grew at nearly three times the rate of the overall market and that trend should continue for some years. With figures like these, it is clear that online is now the arena of choice for travel sales. There is need to look at how players in the tourism sector can leverage on technology to build growth in challenging markets and make the industry more sustainable.
On use of social media to grow online presence, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are vital tools when researching travel. However only a small number of East African Tourism companies are really accessing and using these tools to their full potential.
“Facebook has been around Africa for close to four months now. Having a presence in Africa now we get to see how the internet has brought in change and revolutionized how we work. In the past couple of years the internet has changed in three waves from the desktop web in the 90s to the mobile web in the 20s and now we are moving to the third wave which is loving services, which is brought about by the Internet of Things. With over a billion Facebook Users daily we Facebook we are trying to bring more businesses online and on to our platform through Facebook Ads as we are the biggest connection platform, “said Musa Kalenga from Facebook.
Adding on the same Google Kenya Country Manager said, “YouTube data shows that travelers are spending more time watching online videos than ever before, with views of travel-related content up 118% year over year (YoY), showing how influential online travel videos are. Google has provided tools that enable a friendly experience for businesses while online.
He also added, “Google also recently in partnership with Save the Elephants, developed a tool that enables online visitors to explore and navigate a real-time panoramic view of Samburu National Reserve, this will as well help boost e-tourism.”
The virtual view tool allows users to zoom into any part of the reserve they wish to examine such as the wild animal routes or the Samburu manyattas.
The conference brought together some of the world’s leading experts on online tourism including Trip Advisor, Twitter, Expedia and for the first time in Kenya, Facebook will be presenting on tourism. Visa and the Intercontinental Hotel Nairobi are the lead sponsors for the conference.