HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 24TH INTER-UNIVERSITY SEMINAR ON SUSTAINABLE TOURISM
Disruptor means something that alters or destroys known structures. Is sustainability at the core of disruptions in tourism or will it be affected by disruptions? These is the main question that was to be answered at the 24th Inter-University seminar held at the University of Nairobi.
Here are key disruptive trends shaping tourism.
1. Disruptions by change in traveler demographics
Dynamics of demographic behavior is very important in travel because it forces the industry to realign. Presently, millennials and the new generation want transformative experiences and respond to experiential marketing. Traditional ways of selling travel don’t apply to them. 73% of millennials are more likely to buy sustainable than baby boomers (51%).
Youth represent one of the biggest disruptions in travel starting from their concern for sustainability, to use of digital technology and how they want to do business. As disruptors of tourism, youth should take the opportunity to dictate what they want as responsible travelers, employees and entrepreneurs. The change should however be informed by issues affecting environment and people. Tourism today backwards has not done much for sustainable development. Young people have the opportunity to make it right.
Changing consumer typologies influence supply and demand in tourism. Because travel demands in tourism are changing, tourism businesses prepare to offer flexible travel products. For example, the green buyers are more conscious, and care to promote sustainable travel, and will most likely choose responsible service providers. Tourism contributes to, and is affected by climate change. More travelers therefore request companies to report on their carbon emissions.
On experiential travel, 67% of travelers would rather spend their money on activities than a nice hotel. (Skif, 2018, Researcher Travelers Survey). Consumers therefore request for unique experiences, with preference for local, more adventure, and activity oriented tours.
Also, changing economic landscapes, e.g. emerging global markets, and growing of middle class population, that have implications for potential market sources.
2. Disruptions by information technology.
Technological disruptions in tourism removes traditional opportunities of travel, but at the same time create new opportunities for well managed travel companies to increase performance, become competitive, and do more for people and planet. Travel consumption is also being dictated by ease of using mobile phones.
Online market places, e.g. trip advisor, safaribookings, booking.com, facilitate convenient travel planning.
Advanced software and communication are tool movers for competition. Digitization also shapes new competition, shaking up business plans for the longer term.
Travel disruptions are evident in booking trends, for example;
• Travelers are opting for more experiences over attractions
• Travelers are more likely to purchase on Mondays than Saturdays
• More bookings are being made directly on operator websites
• There is more spending on bookings done with human interaction
Disruptions apparent in tours and activities include;
• Increase in last minute online bookings
• Travelers are booking bespoke or custom tours and activities in advance.
• Millennials experiencing tours are looking for once in a life time experiences.
• More travelers book online using OTAs. This is more prominent with millennials who can compare options, pricing, and reviews in one place.
• Travelers are price sensitive, looking for quality that matches pricing.
It is necessary to allow disruptions to build competitiveness of travel destination, but have limits. Responsible management is key. Disruptions in travel should be managed to add value to people, planet and business. Tourism businesses can fuse traveler experience with employee experience to build communities with purpose in tourism.
The way forward for tourism is to develop unique customer journeys (disrupt), learn their behaviors, treat their data with respect. Think about what benefits the traveler, the trip and the planet best.
Let’s Go Travel Uniglobe
Student and Faculty representatives from University of Nairobi and Utalii College
Faculty Representative from Strathmore University
Invited guest from County Government of Kisumu, Republic of Kenya
Universities in Attendance
Kenya Utalii College-Hosts
Dedan Kimathi University
University of Nairobi
Technical University of Kenya
Total number of Students in attendance: 151