Baby steps ultimately lead to giant strides. This was demonstrated yet again in Victoria Island, Lagos at the tourism summit organized by ecommerce giant, Jumia Travel. Today’s event has demonstrated yet again the resolve by Nigerian travel and tourism professionals to salvage the fledgling industry from its comatose state. For me, it was a honor to share the stage with some of Nigeria’s finest, especially my mentor Ambassador Ikechi Uko, CEO ATQNEWS and Akwaaba International Travel Market. Mr. Ikechi is a pan-African tourism professional with a rich wealth of experience and network. When he sneezes, African tourism catches cold and when he speaks, it is like honey drooping from the honeycomb. Mr. Ikechi is a master of his craft; his articulation is legendary and his delivery impeccable. Words simply follow him. This is why I did more of listening than speaking today. And you can’t help but just take notes when he starts reeling out global trends, big data and market insights with reckless abandon. He is that good.
Having said that, here is a summary of key insights and thoughts shared by him and other panelists (Kushal Dutta – JumiaTravel MD, Chiamaka Obuekwe – SocialPrefectTours MD and Abiola Bakare – Kenya Airways and OloriSupergal the Moderator).
– If you’re a travel blogger, tour operator, service provider or supplier seeking to understand the consumer behavior of the Nigerian traveler, here are the frequently traveled African destinations being searched for by Nigerians: Lagos, Tinapa, Obudu, Kenya, Zanzibar and Mauritius. Destinations outside Africa include Dubai, London, United States of America, Canada. For business travelers, China, Turkey and Hong Kong are major routes. For students and schooling purposes, Uganda, South Africa, Cyprus, Ukraine, among others.
– The power lies in the hands of travel writers and tour operators to determine where the next Nigerian vacations. Not the other way round. We have the potential to control the narrative by inspiring Nigerians twith irresistible experiences so they can visit our domestic destinations.
– In travel and tourism marketing, there are 5Ps, as against the traditional 4Ps. The fifth is Partnerships. You can’t succeed without it. Building partnerships into sustainable, long term relationships – regardless of the immediate returns/benefits – is an art and skill that needs to be mastered in the industry.
– You can’t ignore the Chinese in the scheme of things as a business person, especially as an airline. They have very significant travel miles and their business volume is important to the survival of any business.
– Consumers aged 35 to 55 are the ones that currently generate the bulk of revenue that sustains the travel business. So you should be strategic in your targeting. They are usually the ones who pay for the travel expenses of the younger age demographic.
– In Nigeria, you can’t get anything done if you solely rely on government. If you want anything to change, go ahead and change it yourself. Drop that entitlement mentality. It will get you nowhere.
– For those seeking to get ahead in the business, you need to be consistent with your promotional efforts in the beginning. Sow the seeds. Pay the price. And you’ll get the rewards in the long run. The influential stakeholders in the industry today all started from the scratch. They have duly paid their dues. So pay yours.
– For up and coming travel writers, bloggers, tour operators and those looking to come into the industry, it is important to specialize. Take a region/destination and be be an authority on it. It is easier to get noticed when people know that you ‘own a space’ and you are good at it.
– Kenya Airways is open to partner, work with and support bloggers in promoting African destinations. Aside taking bloggers and journalists annually on all-expense paid fam trips, the airline gives flight tickets (exclusive of government taxes) to partners who bring commensurate value to the table.
– As a tour operator or travel professional, you need an IATA Number. This gets you into the database of the airlines and other tourism institutions. It is useful when background checks are conducted by these institutions when shortlisting for partnerships, jobs and business generally. It simply gives you credibility and enhances your professional mileage.
– Sports and food tourism are untapped aspects of tourism in Nigeria with immense potentials to contribute significantly to the country’s GDP.
– Payments is still a significant challenge in Nigeria especially forex. Each year, Nigeria loses about 1 billion dollars because of the inability of foreigners visiting the country to often make and complete transactions. A MasterCard executive, who attended the summit, announced the company’s willingness to partner with industry professionals to solve this problem.
– Today’s travelers are more demanding, tech savvy and smart. Service providers need to find them on mobile and work with them every step of the way. Big data points to the fact that for every 5 minutes spent on mobile at least 1 minute is spent on Facebook and Instagram. So, from the stage of inspiration to planning, booking and flying, we must be ready to keep up with them in order to personalize and create memorable experiences for travelers. This will translate into referrals, repeat business and of course increased bottom line.
The End 😎