Travel Trends in Kenya’s domestic tourism market

Here comes Lillian Gaitho’s weekend contribution, taking a look at the travel trends in Kenya’s domestic market


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Key Trends in Domestic Tourism

Report identifies need for industry players to customize products to the dynamics of the Kenyan customer

The Jumia Travel Report on domestic tourism in Kenya saw the launch of the first in depth report on key trends, as well as a panel discussion with players in the hotel sector. The online booking website, which recently re-branded from “Jovago” has analyzed booking trends on it’s website for the period between 2015/2016, generated by hundreds of travelers on the platform. The report contains a number of observations and recommendations touching on key areas such as type of travelers, purpose of travel and adoption of technology in the local sub-sector.

Addressing the media during the launch of the report, Cyrus Onyiego, the Country Manager for Jumia Travel cited lack of awareness and knowledge as a major challenge hampering growth in domestic tourism, “travel is still viewed as a luxurious affair, simply because the (consumer) has very little knowledge on the product.” He called on stakeholders to come up with customized and personalized products for the market, keeping in mind the culture, lifestyle and budget needs for local travelers.

The report also indicated a rising need for hotel owners and tour operators to design products and packages for the emerging group of millennial travelers who may not be keen on luxury as compared to convenience, budget and flexibility.

According to Eugene Too, the Online Revenue Manager for The Panari Hotel, the lower gap in the current millennial bracket is very clear on what they are looking for; fun and adventure. It is therefore important for providers to mark up their facilities if they want to capture this growing market. His comments were reiterated by Alfrida Boinett, the CEO – Private Collections, commenting that, “this group of travelers are the future of the industry and therefore any brand keen on building loyalty must be ready to accommodate them and grow with them.”

Boinett, who runs among other properties Naivasha Kongoni Lodge, Poa Place in Eldoret and Swahili House in Mombasa also observed a new trend in family travel, “families want to travel as one, stay together and share experiences without unnecessary restrictions; this has brought about a new demand for self-catering cottages and family friendly packages.”

Rather than trying to replicate products for diverse users, both panelists urged hotel owners to adapt to changing needs and target to satisfy personal needs for their guests.

51 Percent of Travelers are Families

While slightly more than half of local bookings on Jumia Travel consist of either nuclear or extended families on holiday, only thirteen percent (13%) are made of friends traveling as a group. Further, the report indicates that single or individual travelers are equally popular, while business travelers take up twenty three percent (23%) of the total bookings. Most interesting however, is the observation that men are more popular e-travel consumers than women, with the ratio of male travelers almost doubling that of women at sixty four percent (64%) as compared to women at thirty six percent (36%).

A comparative report on Nigeria defies the (Kenyan) family law however, with individual travelers totaling to sixty five percent (65%), while only a meagre six percent (6%) travel as family.

Key takeaways

On Regions and Destinations: Coast region leads as the most popular destination for Kenyans at 30%, while still maintaining the same numbers (30%) in the number of room nights registered on the booking platform.

Nairobi follows closely behind, with a good 29% of local travelers headed for the city’s room nights which occupies 27% on the percentage sharing of rooms available on Jumia Travel.

Naivasha and Nakuru, which are both increasingly growing as conference centers as well as major escape destinations for leisure and short holidays, take up a combined percentage of 17% in visitor numbers. The region contributes a 10% of room nights on Jumia Travel.

Kisumu and Eldoret are marked out as growing centers partly because of Lake Victoria as an attraction and also as an entry point for cross border travel. Other factors such as devolution and destination awareness campaigns also contribute to the growing attention the two towns are currently enjoying.

Mount Kenya accounts for 7% of the nation’s total room nights, while taking up 5% of local travelers.

Desktop bookings still popular

As one may expect in Kenya, Mobile Payments is the most popular mode of payment for guests who prefer prepayment (paying before arrival). Kenyans however are seen not to favor swiping their cards as this only takes up about fourteen percent (14%) of the prepayment chart, while other means (cheque, EFT and corporate payments) account for twenty six percent (26%). Desktop computers still carry the day as the preferred gadget for completing bookings at a remarkable eighty-three percent (83%) still prefer to complete their bookings via desktop computers. Seventeen percent (17%) search and book on mobile gadgets.

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