Kenya Travel Hospitality Report by Jumia Travel sheds light on major travel trends in the country, looking at how the local sector compares with counterparts on the global map; it’s rapid development, impending barriers and the impact of technology on the changing domestic travel landscape.
'The findings are compiled from data gathered from the 2000 plus Kenyan hotels partnering with Jumia Travel, showing not only an increase in the absorption of technology in the sector, but also remarkable growth in domestic travel spending’ remarked Cyrus Onyiego, during the launch.
The research shows Kenyans still prefer the good old laptop when it comes to hotel searches, accounting for 59% of traffic to the website as compared the 37% mobile sourced traffic and a meager 4% logging to the travel platform through tablets. The trajectory is almost duplicated when it comes to placing actual bookings; 70% of visitors book via computers while the remaining 30% click on their smartphones. when Interestingly, and perhaps contrary to conventional belief, there are more men visiting the website at 60% in comparison to women who take up 40%.
The annual report also breaks down the means of payment, in a bid to understand what is influencing the traveler’s choice; for instance and despite the continued adoption of mobile payments, 52% of guests still opt for pay-at-hotel, a notable increase from the 47% recorded in the premier report(2015). Mpesa, as the major mobile money transfer platform takes up 32% of overall hotel payments, while 15% of the local domestic travel consumers pay via card.
A last minute, three-star nation?
Not very surprising, a whooping 44% of domestic travellers hit their gadgets for hotel and destination “search” barely a week ahead of set travel date; a small fraction of travellers however seem to prefer planning ahead of time at 7% for more than two months (prior to travel date) and 15% for one-two months. However, it’s worth of note that once settled on the hotel, more than 20% will book a week in advance, while same day booking (less than 24 hours) carries the day at 25%.
In what now seems like a trend and lifestyle devotion, Kenyans still prefer staying in three star hotels as compared to any other rating. This however, is a sharp drop from 2014/2015, where three star accommodation recorded a 50% share. Two star hotels seem to have bitten into the share, to exhibit a sharp rise from from the previous year to the current 31%.
Estelle Verdier, the Managing Director for Jumia Travel-East & Southern Africa attributes this shift to the growing number of properties now enjoying online, thus global presence when she said: 'Through the last 3 years we have developed a unique solution for hotel managers to gain online visibility even when they are not connected to internet, by virtue of joining our platform, this enables them to get bookings which are actualized through our customer service team and travel advisors'.
The fact that the platform has also adapted the use of local languages such as Swahili, Yoruba and Amharic, as well as established local offices across the continent has also highly boosted their partner-customer-relations due to improved access and proximity.
Under destination search, Nairobi defends her place as the business and MICE capital while Mombasa and Rift Valley take the lead as the country’s leisure and recreation holiday centers. Some insightful metrics also attempt to illustrate average costs in various destination by looking at the Average Price Per Room Per Night
The report also captures expert insights from Carmen Nibigira, the Chief Operations Officer at East Africa Tourism Platform, (EATP). Carmen notes that 53% of Kenyan Tourism is purely domestic and points it as an encouragement to the rest of the EA nations to aggressively market tourism at the local and regional level. 'EAC partner states simply complement each other, hence the need to repackage the bloc as a single destination' This, as she explained has been highly boosted by the adoption of the single EA passport, which she says adds value to any tourist visiting the region.
Addressing the media and distinguished hotel guests during the launch, Carmen also observed the need for respective tourism boards across the region to shift focus from traditional source markets and aggressively target the local and regional traveler.
Further insights by Issa Latiff, the head of sales at the newly opened Royal Tulip hotel emphasized on the need for hoteliers to take care of the new age business traveler by installing updated conferencing facilities and extending personalized service. Latiff aptly noted that, “Nairobi is more than qualified and equipped to meet the growing MICE demand”
The report further discusses the place of Travel and Tourism on the global economic, social and cultural map, noting that the 1 billion economy recently hit 1.3 billion international arrivals, and continues to exhibit growth, even when faced by multiple challenges. According to the UNWTO, tourism contributes 10% of the global GDP, while accounting for 1/10 jobs. These figures were well portrayed locally, with the sector taking up 1/11 jobs and contributing to 10% of Kenya’s GDP(2015)