The latest trend in tourism is travel that is rapidly moving past the conventional means in response to a growing market; where in one way or the other, technology will be consumed. This has indeed called industry players to re-invent their business ideals, or risk growing redundant. While the place of soft skills and personalization cannot be entirely replaced by technology, its worth of note that these two aspects have become the inseparable components of the current market mix, for any success story.
A report by the World Travel Monitor® notes that traditional business trips are now highly rivaled by the MICE industry (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences& Exhibitions),forcing operators to step up their products models to meet the growing demand. Where a spacious room with horse-shoe set up of banqueting chairs and a white board sufficed just enough, the era is now replaced by a call for teleconferencing, robust WI-Fi,data and voice connection points, panel displays, and integrated sound system among other aspects. Undoubtedly the decline in traditional business trips is largely impacted by lack of implementation and adaption of technological solutions.
In the same breath, the report also observes a sharp decline in countryside tourism owing to the same (tech) challenges, with travelers seeming to have a renewed and rapidly growing interest in urban tourism.
This as Estelle Verdier, Managing Director for Jovago.com East and Southern Africa explains is very much influenced by new travel habits; “whether on WIFI, DSL, cable or on flight mode, travelers no longer plug out. The very basics of communication stems from technology, and experience sharing has seen another era through the various channels involved”
This may lead one to wonder what exactly the future holds for county tourism; a major product on display in the ongoing Magical Kenya Tourism Expo. The one week experience that has brought together over 100 global exhibitors with quite a number of Kenyan counties showcasing different products in bid to woo new regional and global arrivals their way. As Nafisa Fazal, a participator representing online travel firm, Jovago.com explains, ‘it’s not about being the biggest anymore, but giving the best in terms of both product and experience’ This, she cites is the primary factor in getting tourists to look your way; harness to the best what you have, and garnish it with memorable customer experience. “Do not focus on what you wish to offer, but on what the customer wishes for”
The role of ecotourism
Kenya is well recognized within and beyond the region for spear heading global campaign in support of ecotourism. Embedded on responsible travel and environmental conservation, ecotourism seeks to preserve the natural world while protecting the wellness of the people. In contrast to traditional times where visitors would feel encouraged to carry with them ‘souvenirs and keepsakes’ worth memories of their visits, this form of sustainable tourism only recommends photographs as the acceptable take-away for tourists, and footprints as the commendable leave-in. Other aspects of ecotourism include use of natural and locally available building materials, hiring local guides, charity and donation to local courses and strict adherence to nature’s holding capacity.