A number of Kenyan hotels are using technological solutions to drive their revenue growth. Their initiative comes at a time when business travel is growing at a rapid pace across the African continent.
This is according to Josephine Wawira from Jumia Travel, one of the continent’s leading players in the hospitality industry. Using a case study of The Zehneria Portico, a luxury boutique hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.
Wawira says that Kenya is largely viewed as a leisure destination.
“However, as Kenya takes on the new identity of being East Africa’s economic hub, it is continually molding into a business destination. Additionally, Kenya is globally getting recognized as the African New Technologies hub, therefore bolstering the country as a leader towards the growth of business travel,” she explains.
Her case study looks at trends in the hotel industry in Kenya including the overall effect of the internet on travel and how one hotel, The Zehneria Portico, has seen its best year in revenue growth in 2018.
Wawira argues that the country’s fame as a conference destination is rising fast. In fact, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) has ranked Kenya as the second-best destination for conference tourism in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa.
Furthermore, the value in meetings, incentives and conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism currently stands at Ksh30 billion (about $300 million). Hotels account for an impressive 60% of this total value.
Wawira adds that since business travellers spend more time at the hotel either in meetings or working after office hours, they are more demanding as pertains to the amenities offered as compared to leisure tourists.
“Still, corporations do not have the time to hunt for hotels deals, organize conferences, liaise with hotel managers, and handle their core business as well. Hotels on the other hand do not have the resources to track individual corporate travel and conferences needs while maintaining a digital presence and the few walk-ins,” explains Wawira.
As such, The Zehneria Portico has partnered with Jumia Travel to offer 10% cheaper rates to its corporate clients that sign up for the Corporate Program.
This comes even as domestic tourists contributed to 59% of the total tourism income in 2016 in Kenya. As such, Jumia Travel believes that it is vital to understand the local market and observe travelers’ behavioral insights are essential for the hotel industry.
From Jumia Travel’s 2017 Hospitality Report on Kenya, it emerged that nearly 60% of travelers begin their online search for a hotel a fortnight before their journey while an incredible 80% make their final choice 7 days before. Moreover, 25% of travelers make a same day booking.