Event Africa Contributor 06/10/2021 MKTE

Neeti Bhatia, Intrepid Marketing and Communications, Irene Katumo, Kenya Tourism Board, Regional Marketing Manager for Emerging Markets, Saxon Booth, from Dragon Trail, the digital marketing agency representing KTB in China.

China is one of the strictest countries in the world when it comes to tackling the pandemic, and group and package travel has been prohibited, significantly dampening the outbound travel industry. But we are starting to see some bright spots on the horizon, says Saxon Booth, from Dragon Trail, the digital marketing agency representing KTB in China.

One of the trends that are coming through in terms of Chinese travellers’ preferences are a lot more interest in nature and remote places and also more interest in island and beach trips.

“It feels like people really want to escape it all after being so heavily restricted and stuck at home for so long, and I think these kinds of trends are quite nicely aligned with a place like Kenya. You’ve got incredible national parks and safari experiences, and though your coastal regions are not so well known in China yet, we are starting to push that on KTB social media here. These kinds of things are great assets that will align with the demand in the market after the pandemic.”

Another key trend for the Kenyan travel industry to keep an eye regarding China is Generation Z or younger travellers who are driving the biggest growth in the Chinese travel market both pre-pandemic and based on the current market research.

“They are also the most optimistic about travelling after the pandemic, probably because in large part Covid is a disease that is much more dangerous for older travellers,” says Saxon.

He says that another trend is that small customised travel or FIT is also growing at the expense of that traditional big bus tour so the players in the industry in Kenya need to start thinking about how to start building awareness to FITs and working with some new distribution partners that are more focused on small, private customised group travel.

Lastly, people are looking for nature and relaxation, over the traditional sightseeing which Saxon says is a great trend for Kenya. “I think it’s very well-placed to take advantage of that kind of demand.”

A key point to take note of is that Chinese travellers are digital natives, says Saxon. “Everything that they do is online. So really being present on Chinese social media channels like WeChat, working with some of the online travel agencies and working on online videos, these are the places you really need to be to raise awareness of your market.

Working with influencers, getting them to Kenya and getting them to create content for us will also make a huge impact, he added.

KTB marketing representative in India Neeti Bhatia, from Intrepid Marketing and Communications, says in India travellers are talking a lot more about experiences.

“They talk about outdoor experiences, culinary experiences and of course they also want to talk about how they can connect with family and friends.

“A lot of people because of the lockdown have been away from their family and friends and are trying to find ways where they can have holidays together,” Neeti said.

Indian travellers are also looking for longer stays – 10 days, 12 days and up to 14 days.

“We are also seeing that a lot of people are not booking far in advance due to fear that Covid regulations are changing so dynamically all the time.”

Domestic travel is doing really well in India but who will be travelling international first and why?

Neeti says most of the people who want to travel are those with high disposable income, people who are looking at luxury, who are looking at leisure and who don’t mind taking expensive packages and are prepared to pay for multiple PCR tests.

Then there are the millennials, who are very digital savvy so they know all the rules and regulations of those countries that they want to travel to.

Neeti said that a very interesting segment for India is the small celebration groups and families, so people who are planning to get married or have milestone anniversaries to celebrate. “They’re preferring to gather their set of family and friends and travel with them and have a holiday with all their loved ones.”

She says people are also looking for experiences and to be further or far away from city centres, which could be a good opportunity for packages like the Magical Kenya Signature Experience.