As a tourism hub and major trade player in Southern Africa, Kenya’s outbound travel market is as diverse and dynamic as its people. We explore the mindset of travellers from Kenya, the types and scope of experiences they seek, and how travel marketers and suppliers can better reach them in the future.
Kenya is equidistant between Johannesburg and Dubai. This offers a great deal of choice to the “shopping traveller,” a characteristic that sets the Kenyan traveller apart, according to Nishma Shah, director of Holiday Bazaar Ltd.
While shopping is an integral part of their travel experience, they also want to include leisure travel, sightseeing and cultural experiences in their package. “In Kenya, they have wildlife and scenic beauty. So, they want to go somewhere where there is city life when they travel,” says Shah.
But exciting changes are emerging, Shah says. Young travellers want authentic travel experiences and shareable adventures different from previous generations. They also have a taste for wine, and there are more and more travellers who want to learn about the world of wine on their trips, she says. South Africa is the most popular destination for wine travel, but Portugal is emerging as a competitor, Shah says.
Kenyans like to travel in small groups, whether with family or friends. Solo travellers and, increasingly, solo women travellers are also on the rise. “Groups of girlfriends are travelling together, and we are seeing an interest in cruises in that area,” Shah says.
For those under 35, shopping, exploring and nightlife are high on the list of wants and needs, and young Kenyan travellers enjoy city tours where they can quickly experience what a destination has to offer them. The older traveller is curious and looks for slower, more specialised travel experiences.
Barriers to reaching the Kenyan source market
The destinations that get it right have Kenyans‘ least restrictive visa requirements. Singapore does not charge visa fees, while Dubai and Schengen countries make it easy for Kenyans to obtain visas.
Choice of destinations for travellers
According to Shah, Turkey is currently the “winner” in appealing to Kenyan tourists. What are they looking for? Leisure, cultural experiences and shopping are the most important factors for travellers. Dubai, Singapore, South Africa, Europe, and Thailand are all popular destinations
Older travellers are looking for “African cultural experiences” on their doorstep (Seychelles, Maldives and Madagascar), and Mexico also piques their interest. For the youth market, South Africa’s Garden Route and the Mother City are high on the agenda.
Tips to attract Kenyan travellers
Kenyans are inspired to travel by word of mouth and social media (especially Facebook), so active engagement with influencers and online marketing should be among the most critical strategies. Radio is another effective marketing tool.
All-inclusive packages will appeal to group travellers (they are looking for value for money, Shah says), with add-ons that set your offering apart from the competition. This is a savvy traveller who knows what they want. So, it’s essential to connect with the customer and understand their needs, Shah says, and make sure your sales team knows what they are talking about!