“Jumia Travel Insights into the Travel & Hospitality Sector"
How did Jumia Travel fare in 2017 in terms of volume of bookings especially during the electioneering period?
In Kenya, our volume of bookings was affected a lot by the first round of the elections but other countries in the region had stronger performances then. Therefore in East Africa, the overall performance only went down by 5%. During the second round of the election, we barely saw any impact. At that time people were already planning for their end of year holidays and employees had resumed their business trips. During that month we grew the number of bookings by 50%. In my opinion, the communication around the second round of the elections was quite well managed and consequently it did not affect the tourism industry as much. Going forward, Kenya should continue to communicate proactively and positively to mitigate the impact of such events.
Have Kenyans become more receptive to the use of OTAs and the concept of online bookings?
The awareness around our services is now very high, but a lot of people are still not ready to fully rely on our online interface to book their trips. We are proactively reaching out to these offline customers through our offline travel agencies and the Jforce team. It gives them an opportunity to interact with our experienced customer agents who assist them to book through our online platform and enjoy the benefits thereof. Customers who have used our platform even once are strongly recommending it to their friends and relatives, as we have proven to be the cheapest travel one-stop-shop. Overall, although we have come from afar, the adoption of online platforms to buy goods and services is impressively growing.
What are the top 5 destinations Kenyans traveled to within the country in 2017, and what are these locations known for?
The top 5 destinations in 2017 were Mombasa, Nairobi, Diani, Naivasha and Nakuru. Mombasa and Diani were extremely popular during the end of year festive season and some long weekends. We were able to offer half board and full board deals from 5,000 and 7,000 ksh in 4 star hotels, a factor that has given us a competitive advantage in these regions. Naivasha and Nakuru are usually very popular for the weekends, but also for some business trips. We see lots of last minute bookings for these destinations. On the other hand, Nairobi remains the most booked destination for people coming from outside the country as well as from local business people living in other Kenyan cities. In 2018, these 5 destinations are still showing a very strong lead in popularity, with a growing demand for Kisumu, Malindi, and Eldoret.
“The State and Potential of the Aviation Sector in Kenya”
What are the main profiles of travellers flying with Skyward Express?
Our passengers are largely domestic, aged between 18 and 65 years. In terms of regional routes, the coast attracts an average of 28% of our passengers, while the other 72% use the upcountry routes. We recorded 40,583 total passengers by 12th June 2017, with an impressive 55% increase within the same period in 2018 to reach 63,199 total passengers.
What would you say are the main technology factors driving Kenyans' flight culture?
Accessibility of flights bookings through the internet is a major element in my opinion. This has been a great milestone in the industry. For instance, our bookings trends demonstrate that by 12th June 2017, web bookings stood at 11%, direct bookings at 60%, while Travel Agents contributed 29% of the bookings. Comparatively, by 12th June 2018, the web bookings increased to 23% with direct bookings dropping to 47%. Travel Agents now account for 30% of our bookings.
The integration of our booking engine to mpesa now accounts for over 60% of all our revenue collection modes. This technology, which is a widely used form of payment in Kenya has made it possible for our customers to transact with Skyward Express at the comfort of their offices or living rooms in a convenient, reliable, and affordable way. We are now seeking to enhance the digital platform for our dealings with our customers by integrating our services with other service providers like Hotels, Car Rental services and others to ensure that our customers are served better through the digital platform.
How are the local aviation companies transforming domestic tourism in the country?
Following increased publicity of the local tourist sites to the domestic market, Skyward Express has taken part in the enhancement of domestic tourism transformation by introducing flights to emerging key tourist destinations namely Mombasa, Lamu, Eldoret and Lodwar. To ensure that there is flexibility and increasing numbers of domestic tourists visiting the named destinations regularly, we have gone further to put in place daily flights to these destinations. For Mombasa, Eldoret and Lodwar, we now have an average of two flights daily with an option to increase on demand.
Our prices have been structured to make it affordable to the travellers who would like to visit these destinations. Besides, we have plans to widen our domestic route network to cover other tourist destinations like Malindi, Ukunda and Kisumu. This will make it possible for the local traveller to transverse the nation easily and affordably. As we open up new routes in the domestic market – we see domestic tourism increasing as Kenyans find it convenient, reliable, and affordable to take weekend holidays regularly through Skyward Express.
What growth potential does Kenya's aviation industry portray in 2018, especially after the introduction of the visa-on-arrival policy for Africans?
The introduction of the visa-on-arrival policy for Africans – opens up the aviation industry for a business boom even further. As a result of this move, there will certainly be an increase in trade activities between Kenya and Africa at large. This will stimulate cross border travel hence increasing passengers traffic in and out of the country, and potentially making Kenya stand ahead as a preferred regional aviation and business hub for Africa. The impact of this ultimately will attract international airlines investments into the local thriving carriers due to the foreseeable airline business increase in the country.
“Low Cost Airlines Promoting Local Tourism”
In your opinion, what is the key to creating successful customer experience for a low cost company mostly operating online?
Jambojet's main purpose is to connect people to what is important in their lives by offering affordable and reliable air travel. A lot of our customer feedback comes through our social channels, and we have a trained customer service team that operates 24/7 to manage the responses in a timely manner.
With four years of operations and regional expansion, what are your major achievements and plans over the next 12 months? How is the new partnership with Jumia Travel expected to impact Jambo Jet's operations?
Jambojet has revolutionised the aviation industry in Kenya, by introducing low and affordable fares. We have flown over 2 million passengers since our inception, grown our fleet to 5 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 and seen the number of staff double. In the next 12 months, we have plans for regional expansion as well as acquiring more planes. Our partnership with Jumia Travel enables us to offer our customers a complete product, air and hotel, all in one portal.
How would a border-less air transport market eliminate some of the barriers such as airport charges and high levels of taxation in Africa?
There have been many talks about open skies between various countries. Only when this happens, then the taxation will go down. This would result in more affordable travel, increased frequencies, as well as create jobs in the aviation sector.
“The place of Jumia Travel as an OTA and its role in travel and hospitality”
What is the place of Jumia Travel as an OTA and its role in travel and hospitality?
Jumia Travel was launched with the ambition to make travel in Africa easy and affordable. We create new opportunities for hoteliers by making their properties visible to millions of customers across the world. 50% of the hotels working with us had no prio online presence, and this means they could only be booked based on immediate recommendations. Even though some customers knew about the hotels, they were struggling to reach them to make a booking. Jumia Travel created digital roads to these hotels.
On the customers’ side, we operate as a one stop shop. Customers can find various accommodation types from hotels to villas and apartments in any destination, and easily book them on our platform. This is enabled by our large inventory of properties across Africa (over 30,000 and over 3,000 in Kenya), providing customer reviews that act as guides to new guests wishing to stay at these properties. We have provided different methods of payment: mobile money, credit card payment, physical payments at our offline travel agencies and even pay-at-hotel option to ensure seamless transactions for your stay and flights at the best available rate exclusively negotiated by our team.
How is Jumia Travel leveraging technology to drive innovation within the hospitality sector?
Technology is the backbone of Jumia Travel. It is the solution to create more bridges between customers and hotels. However, technology is not the only component. We cannot rely fully on automated transactions as hoteliers are still in the process of fully adopting the online channels. Moreover, many customers still want to receive guidance and advices along the booking process. In this context we have to operate a solution made of technological bricks and offline elements. The Jumia Travel team therefore has to keep thinking outside the box to develop new solutions customized for this market.
What are the Kenyan traveler's tech behaviors and how is Jumia Travel responding to them?
Kenyans are among the most tech savvy people. They are not afraid of new tech solutions especially when mobile based. Close to 70% of the visits on our website are from mobile devices in Kenya. In this market, we definitely have to adopt a mobile first approach and keep in mind that people will be booking on the go.
Kenyans also like to interact with our team and our live chat is very popular. We are also getting increased requests over Facebook Messenger. Despite being an online travel agency, we make our team easily reachable at any time through our customers preferred channels including walkins at our physical agencies. We often reach out to our customers through surveys to better understand their needs and preference and adapt to it. We are proud to offer a solution tailored to our customers’ needs.
“The Impact of Technology and OTAs to the Hospitality Industry”
What is the impact of new technologies and OTAs to the hospitality industry in Kenya?
The unprecedented rise in the use of technology and advanced Internet of Things (IOT) has had significant impact on how consumers interact with hospitality providers and purchase holidays. According to the report by Communications Authority of Kenya, released in September 2017, 112% of Kenyans have access to the internet hence travelers’ expectations on the use of technologies is on the rise. In an industry that is now being increasingly driven by memorable experiences, a traveler's journey starts from the top of the travel cycle of inquiry that is mainly driven by desktop research on the web. This normally doesn’t involve much human interaction unless the consumer is interested in further information- which over time has been owned by the insights from travel sites like Jumia Travel and Expedia. With websites that allow travelers to make their own booking and payments, human interactions are becoming less and less common and when they take place they are considered valuable. As industry players become more tech savvy, there needs to be a balance between technology and human interaction. It is necessary to keep up with competition and global trends which are stirring creativity and innovativeness, but it is important that the main focus of the industry remains all about unrivalled guest experience and this focus is what must drive the technology trends. Creating a more personalized guest experience is an integral part of delivering positive sustainable results. This can be achieved if there’s a right balance between technology delivered service; and the personal touch cannot and must not be taken away.
How is Social Media impacting the hotel business in terms of marketing?
While the impact of word-of-mouth still remains very high, new social media trends support this traditional yet effective marketing tool. Social media has changed the way we consume and use information in our day-to-day lives. The travel industry has immensely benefited from the use of social media. It is now being used as a source of information, sales and an advertising tool, fostering new relationships, maintaining existing ones and more importantly building strong brands. Today, travelers go online to research or find the best travel destinations and content posted by peers is most sought as a qualifier information. Different social media platforms are appealing to certain age-groups, professional capacities and tech savvy individuals. Most social media platforms are free and flexible, cut across many demographics and markets, allowing marketing campaigns reach a wider audience and are more affordable. Hotel brands have mastered the art of knowing their audience and having target specific marketing campaigns on these platforms. For instance, professional and more tech savvy travelers would use Twitter and LinkedIn more than they would use Facebook. Other platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat are appealing to millennials who plan their travel activities based on inspiration from content posted by their peers. Being active on these platforms puts your brand in a position to capture the attention of potential travelers. Constant and consistent presence on the social media sites and posting relevant, quality content promotes a large following and interaction. Real-time online interaction with your customers creates a sense of reliability and helps guarantee long-term benefits. A well-executed campaign in addition to good content, stands a chance of going viral through social media mass sharing.
Are you confident that Kenya’s tourism is receiving maximum promotion from the ministry? If not, what are your recommendations?
Kenya’s tourism industry has undergone challenges such as the uncertainty surrounding the political landscape in 2017. In the same year, the industry contributed 1.1 million jobs, and its resilient performance can be taken as a sign of maturity that tourism numbers, especially international arrivals were not adversely affected by heightened political tensions. It can be noted that the government has definitely made some significant strides to enhance the industry and we applaud these efforts.
More diverse tourism products
Kenya’s core tourism resources are beach and safari products. It can be noted from the National Tourism Blueprint, that the government has identified existing gaps and is now set to do much more in identifying new opportunities that should allow opening up a wider scale of diverse tourism products, addressing needs within existing products and developing new ones. It should be expected that in addition to market research to identify best practices and products, there will be closer partnerships with the private sector and other stakeholders to ensure long term sustainability and alignment of tourism products with market needs.
Of late, our competitors especially Rwanda, and traditionally South Africa have obviously upped their marketing in order to maintain and increase market share in the international tourism market. Whilst Kenya’s reputation as an amazing African destination has always managed to place the country as a leading African destination, it is imperative that marketing campaigns for destination Kenya be more innovative to capture the imagination of travelers across different segments; from the niche market to the more budget conscious. Adequate marketing funds also need be availed consistently.
Promoting Domestic Tourism
Domestic tourism has taken off exponentially in the last few years. Concerted efforts by both government and the private sector to increase the local tourism numbers during the times when international tourist figures went down have paid off handsomely, and all players stand to be lauded for the hard work. The unified brand of #TembeaKenya through the Kenya Tourism Board has certainly worked magic to build awareness. Raising awareness within the counties is a good initiative that must continue to receive the necessary support. Much remains to be done to educate Kenyans on their country as a travel destination, and in continually positioning Nairobi as a regional hub. The resultant benefit is Kenya being a ‘must go to’ destination for both corporate and leisure travel from the region and beyond within the continent.
The conservation of valuable resources like wildlife is paramount. It is commendable that the elephant population in areas like the Tsavo National Park has increased significantly following efforts to contain poaching and management of human-wildlife conflict by the Kenya Wildlife Services. A park which previously had become almost forgotten is now slowly coming back to life as a viable tourism area. This is just one example of success stories that are not told enough for rightful gain. Ultimately, the government must play the role of ensuring that the right policies and regulations are in place and adhered to and provides the enabling environment. The industry must also play by the right rules and procedures in developing the industry to ensure Kenya maintains and grows its slice of the cake in the market. It is all about partnerships.
Areas of Opportunity
The travelling patterns and dynamics in Kenya are gradually being reshaped. The younger Kenyans are experiencing domestic tourism more than the older generation. Jumia Travel Hospitality Report examines the impact of Travel & Tourism in job creation, economic growth, and infrastructure development as well as the digitalization measures that hotels and airlines should take to adapt to both the Kenyan domestic and international traveler.
Kenya Ministry of Tourism. WTTC. Communications Authority of Kenya.
KNBS 2018. HubSpot Research. World Travel Market. CIA World Factbook.
AFDB. Jumia Mobile Report. Jumia Travel Business Intelligence.