The Kenyan coast has maintained its reputation as the hot bed of Kenyan tourism for decades. This is because of its numerous pre-historic attractions, the pristine sandy white beaches of the Indian Ocean, warm welcoming weather especially for European sun-downers and the rich culture of the coastal communities to name just but a few. However, the priorities and aspirations of travelers especially in the wake of increased technology are changing fast and it’s important for hoteliers and destination marketers to understand their customers. As a travel consultant and a tour operator with an eye beyond the obvious, you notice travel trends every day. May be you are receiving young tech-tourists visiting the emerging tech-hubs like swahilipot Hub , environmental conscious travelers looking for Eco-friendly/ green hotels or Chinese travelers using other social media sites like Weibo and Kaixin00.
The increasing penetration of internet access, and the introduction of simpler electronic payment methods like M-pesa , Paypal and Pesa-Pal has taken the hospitality industry by storm . The emergence of new niche of super connected travelers demand travel professionals to be connected too. Both local and International clients are least likely to use offline methods to book accommodation. These travelers base their plans on trusted reviews on sites like Booking.com , Air-bnb, Trip Advisor rankings and other online content and after every trip experience, they are likely to share their thoughts in similar places .
It doesn’t matter about the number of years you have been in the industry anymore , what matters to the current niche of digital customers is how well you are reviewed on Trip Advisor, on social media and how you provide the option to book quickly especially through the use of mobile apps. All the travel industry players in Mombasa should continue to invest in online and mobile platforms especially mobile language translation apps to reach a wider audience, especially the tech-savvy travelers across the world. Hotels should focus on hiring Digital marketers who will work on increasing positive Trip Advisor reviews. They should encourage customers to submit photos with reviews. Photos submitted by Trip Advisor users will influence future booking decision.
Many hotels have no idea what Chinese would like to eat, drink or how to communicate with them .Chinese guests are widely traveled internationally, travel mostly in groups and have a bias for staying in private lodges. Since Chinese are the biggest Smartphone market on the planet, then they are also most likely to get interested by travel firms that use online mobile optimized booking .
As I have indicated, most Chinese travelers are not on local social media sites like face book and twitter so close attention should be focused on how to tap this niche. Business should focus on increasing presence on Chinese social media networks and adopt Chinese payment methods in order to attract a large number of Chinese tourists in coast. Chinese friendly services such as speaking basic Chinese, providing porridge and noodles for breakfast, or providing green tea as a gesture of Hospitality.
Tourists will also be looking for opportunities to explore lesser-known destinations especially those that are untouched or unique. This is going to create a huge market for adventure travelers, with many of travelers likely to focus attention to home like experiences. Marketers in the Kenyan coast should try to create something off the usual site seeing, swimming and cultural expeditions. Though these still play a major role in destination marketing, creating back packer’s packages for young travelers and wanderlust expeditions will create unforgettable, unique and authentic memories.
The emerging niches of travelers are also more adventurous, increasingly informed and are planning to try something new. Due to technology they are most likely to travel alone as virtual tourists, as backpackers; and will try new adventure travel for the first time. Destination marketers should cater to these adventurous travelers by creating online information sites and a social media pages that incites wanderlust. All travel packages should provide a welcome escape from day-to-day life and an introduction to something new, be it a culture, experience, or skill.
Mombasa will also see an increase in international business travel due to globalization and greater flexibility for travel. There will be increased business leisure with more and more business travelers looking to enjoy something outside of the boardroom. Adding leisure to business trips adds value to work assignment. Business Travelers are most likely to go for Sightseeing, dining, and absorbing local arts and culture beyond their usual business trips.An increase in low cost carriers and reduced travel barriers means travelers will book weekend getaways in luxury and baroque spots like Vipingo Range , Billionaires Resort in Malindi ,recently opened English-point Marina and Kilifi Mandharini.
Several carriers have already launched direct flights to Mombasa and Malindi .These include German leisure carrier Condo,fly540, Jambojet, TUI Poland and Meridian Fly. This will also be boosted by the standard gauge railway line (SGR) . Domestic business and leisure travelers are increasingly using low cost carrier airlines to travel. These airlines appeal to the average traveler as they are cheaper and affordable.
With the current changes in the international and regional political and social climate, a new niche of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender tourism is going to be a hot topic in travel marketing circles.Since major hotel chains like Marriott are opening in Kenya , they may decide to package special vacations trips for Gay travelers in the Kenyan coast- be it a destination wedding or a romantic weekend.These hotels have dedicated gay micro-sites and vacation packages for their clients in other international destinations . Though there are still strong conservative climates in many political, social and religious quotas,some countries are slowly giving in to these demands. To be sincere in my career has an hotelier in Kenya , I have found some hotels accepting bisexual and transgender tourist. With time our very own Kenya tourism board and Destination Marketing Organizations will be forced to direct marketing campaigns towards gay travelers. This same trend is happening among international destinations. More transgender travelers are heading to Jamaica and Latin America countries where conservative social climates have changed and gay legislation have been passed. This will potentially have a huge effect on the overall tourist spending at local hotels and restaurants in the Kenyan coast
These trends, coupled with an increasingly informed clientele creates a demand for hotels, destination marketers and restaurants to package specialized products and services in the coastal hospitality and tourism industry