Lessons from Kenya's tourism body

The Kenya Tourism Board recently invited me and other travel writers from the region for exclusive media familiarisation tour of Kenya.
The writer (second left) with Masai herdsmen and a KTB official during the trip. (Courtesy)
The writer (second left) with Masai herdsmen and a KTB official during the trip. (Courtesy)
1461006738Sandra-Idossou
Sandra Idossou  

The Kenya Tourism Board recently invited me and other travel writers from the region for exclusive media familiarisation tour of Kenya.

Well, the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) knows their game when it comes to marketing Kenya as one of the best tourism destinations in the region and in Africa, generally. No wonder at the recent World Travel Awards (WTA), held at the Diamond La Gemma Hotel in Zanzibar early this month, the Kenya’s tourism marketing agency KTB scooped the award as Africa’s leading tourist board for the fifth year running beating. KTB beat the Egyptian Tourist Authority, Gambian Tourism Board and Ghana Tourism Authority, respectively, to the coveted accolade.

Though I do not know their internal organisation well or what how they won this prestigious award as a tourism board, I can only testify on the professionalism and effectiveness in organising these familiarisation tours.

They have understood the power of marketing and public relations in the sense that they know how to use a reduced budget in targeting specific groups with specific tourism offers.

Our group, for instance, was to discover the potentials of Kenya as a wedding and honeymoon destination.

From first day I received the invitation from Fiona Ngesa, the assistant regional marketing manager at KTB, the communication was one of the best I could ever wish for.

She was always available to respond to all my queries and more especially, she made it a point to respond in due time to all my mails.

Remember, through the exchange of emails, you can either develop a positive or negative image of an institution.

Even though at the last minute, I nearly cancelled my participation (for reasons affecting my travel), I had to maintain the initial plan because of this person I had never met, but who was so efficient through our correspondences.

Well, I wish there was a better way of telling some of our top officials and managers in Rwanda that it is paramount they respond to mails, no matter how busy they think they are.

Throughout the five days spent touring this awesome country, I was greatly inspired by the different institutions and people we dealt with; from the tour guides, the hospitality staff and the inspiring people working tirelessly on conservation and on certain specific offers that hugely impact on tourism.

I guess for the coming weeks, I will try to share some of these experiences because there are a lot of lessons we can learn from Kenya, especially as Rwanda plans of taking its tourism sector to a higher level.

We all know that with the opening of the Kigali Convention Centre, and numerous hotels, Rwanda’s objective to become a hub for the Meeting, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) segment is so close.

It is, therefore, necessary we look at some of the strong and strategic points of Kenya tourism that can emulate Rwanda. For your information, Nairobi city was voted as Africa’s leading MICE destination at the World Travel Awards..so believe me, there is competition.

Rwanda can proudly boast of its clean and immaculate streets, strong security systems, good Internet and ICT solutions for meetings, etc, but we need to work on our soft side in order to compete with countries like Kenya.

Service delivery is still an issue and, whether we like to hear it or not, it is a fact that needs to be addressed urgently. It is high time we stopped just talking about issues related to poor customer service we experience and acted.

Today, we urgently need solutions, systems, procedures, standards, skilled staff and even sanctions.

Tourism is a great source of revenue for any country and no matter the beauty and tourism attractions Rwanda is blessed with, it is the way tourism is packaged and marketed that makes the difference. And on that, we still have a lot to learn from Kenya.

The author is a customer service consultant and the publisher of www.theservicemag.com

sidossou@theservicemag.com

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