“Online marketing, provision of WI-FI and online payment options score as leading aspects”
The rise of online travel agencies in Kenya and the entire region is seen as both an opportunity and a challenge to the hitherto traditional industry that purely relied on direct bookings and customer loyalty. This new trend has in its positive light opened up the industry to global accessibility; but not without creating a new need for tech savvy middle and lower management.
But this is not all, hotels are also investing in technology to ensure that tech-loving travelers are happy and content with the booking and check-in process as well as guest-room entertainment and business needs taking lead in priorities for most hotels.
According to a research carried out by Jovago.com, a hotel booking website, 42% of Kenyan travelers will take preference to a hotel that is well equipped with robust Wi-Fi; taking to consideration the diverse number of devices that make their way past the concierge. “This is a clear indication that today’s leisure and business traveler are tuned towards reliable Wi-Fi as top priority” said Estelle Verdier, Managing Director for Jovago East & Southern Africa while addressing e-Receptionist Training workshop organized by the company.
Other major amenities that are key factors in influencing a Kenyan guest’s decision include provision of a swimming pool at 31%, with a notable 21% of guests keen on finding air conditioned rooms.
Despite the past challenges that dragged the sector earlier in the year, both small boutique hotels and renowned chains are stepping up their act to woo this emerging market by incorporating online marketing strategies that go beyond provision of room Wi-Fi. Investing in online marketing is seen as a critical factor that comprise of, among other aspects; creating unique and accurate content, interactive and correct location maps, travel tips as well as virtual tours to capture the imagination of a prospective guest.
Online Payment Options
“Kenya has shown an unprecedented leap to m-commerce” says Verdier, “for instance, 60% of our local customer base prefer making their bookings via a mobile device, and will undoubtedly go ahead to complete the purchasing process through an online payment option”
This just goes to emphasize the role of online payments for anyone venturing into ecommerce. A major component of this revolution is to ensure that your hotel is quite flexible on payment mode, without compromising on security. Most of the hotels on Jovago therefore accept both online payments via Mpesa which attracts about 24% of the total customer base as well as card payment at (29%). Almost half the guests (47%) opt for pay-at-hotel at the time of checking, a decision mostly influenced by the risk still associated with online transactions.
In conclusion, the MD notes that mobile technology has played a great role in creating a level playing field for both startups and smaller companies, “it is no longer a requirement for a company to invest in sophisticated pay systems; a tap on your phone while at the cash register pretty much closes the deal”
Jovago is a leading online booking platform, with more than 25,000 hotels in Africa on its platform. The firm recently launched receptionist training sessions dubbed, “Jovago eReceptionist Workshop” aimed at equipping reservation managers with critical eTourism and online booking skills. Jovago is in partnership with over 1200 hotels in Kenya.