To start a domestic tourism in Kenya or a tour business on a firm you need to be well-connected, have tour vehicles, employ tour guides, have well established connections within the country and abroad, you need to know the best hotels in the country and have knowledge and experience about the tourist attraction sites in the country.
You need to have an office, a Website and the list is endless. This has been one common perception among most Kenyans, well to tell you the truth if you have ever thought like that, then I can tell you that you have lived a lie and have held a misconception of the tourism issue.
After many years of wanting to venture into this lucrative business, I could not find a possible way of starting out, and truth be told; I too lived that lie and that is why I can clearly describe it to you. It wasn’t until I was invited by some friends to join them on a local tour around the country that my eyes were opened and I now can see the clear picture. I have decided to pen the picture here in words and that is why it is this long you know a picture is worth all these words.
This guide is simply written from practical experience where I was able to witness how a small idea gave birth to one of the greatest tour firms in the country, I will not give names as the owners have advised me not to and if you have a clue please save it, at least do it for me. This article is basically a description of how the company started and how they carried out their operations until they reached the current state they are now. I was there during conceptualization and I am still there even when I put together this post I am with them and they are my greatest friends.
Maybe all of you already know that every great business has to start somewhere, most start small and grow with time facing times of profits and times of loss, but to reach the top you just have to start at the bottom. Thinking of venturing into the tourism business then what a way will it be if you start with Domestic Tourism in Kenya and see your way to the top. Not so long ago domestic tourism in Kenya was not a term on the lips of Kenyans, but today you hear the term in every place you are; on the news, on social media, among your colleagues and so and so.
TEMBEA KENYA: Embrace Domestic Tourism in Kenya
The most memorable time I remember I heard the term was when I met my cousin at the coast she was from Nairobi just like me and she said to me jokingly, “I am a local tourist”, of course, we laughed and it struck me hey why don’t I do an article about local tourism or domestic tourism in that matter. That was in December 2012 and I forgot about it then met some people who brought it all back now is the time I put it all together.
To some it has been routine and some families have marked their calendars that every holiday they have to travel down to the coast, this is not a new trend and critics will judge by saying that is not domestic tourism in Kenya, well I don’t have the space for debate on the issue but I have for another.
I am a great fan of social media and I have been on it since the early times and I have noticed, maybe you too have noticed recently there have been adverts on groups and pages or even been invited to events, some say Naivasha Easter Holiday’ A weekend at this place and that, they are so many. Well, over the time these kinds of businesses have grown and they are very common. Well to me this is the next big thing closer to Quail business in the country, they are beginning small promoting domestic tourism and only time stands between them and great tour firms in the world.
I must have skipped some few lines back then and I must say I am sorry, just to define what Domestic Tourism is: This is tourism involving residents of one country traveling only within that country what these small organizations or businesses are doing is basically domestic tourism. Now domestic tourism in Kenya is all the above just replace any country with the name Kenya.
Well, some do it for fun and there is no monetary drive behind it, just imagine a couple of friends who come together, they save some cash and go to a certain place and have fun, I know of a couple of groups and I am in one that does that at least once in every two months. There are also companies and business corporations or the NGO with their team building activities go out and have fun. An example of those who do it for money is so simple; A young guy invites his/her friends and asks them to give him or her some money and takes them out to a nice place probably on a weekend or holiday and they have fun and s/he makes some coins out of the event.
This is what I learned from my friends:
It was during a get-together party where we were meeting with a couple of friends for goat eating bash, one of us mentioned we do it next time (The goat eating bash) and boom the idea was born, little did we know some of us were contemplating starting a domestic tourism business. We all went home and on the way I overheard two of my friends discuss the business, they were close so I never bothered to interrupt their brainstorming session.
Step 1: Be motivated
The first step to starting any business is that you need to have a motivation, a drive or a need that you want to see accomplished. My friends were motivated by us coming together; the goat eating really triggered them to see an opportunity. I know some of you will be triggered after reading this post which is good, read on.
Step 2: Get a Partner:
Getting a partner is crucial to most businesses today, that other person will always see something that you are not seeing or have seen but not taken into consideration; they will help you move in the right direction. Don’t forget the partner needs to have the same vision as you or even close to what you see and have as much motivation as you.
Now for my friends they were two, I joined them later when I realized they were going somewhere but after lots and lots of convincing on my part.
From now on I won’t be telling you now my friends did this or that but all that is written below are what they did exactly now am just describing to you how you can do it. So don’t raise eyebrows when you noticed I have stopped mentioning my friends from now on.
Step 3: Identify an Attraction:
They call them tourist attraction; You need to act fast and think of places you need to visit, Since you are starting I suggest you look around your town for best places you can take your clients, yes clients it is a business even if it is your friends you will be taking they are your clients, you can call them customers too.
Write down a list of the places in your locality that can be a venue where your clients can play, interact and marvel at the giving of their own town. The only filter you need to apply here is the locality nothing more nothing less. Make sure your list has more than three places in your town, I don’t know of any country with few than three places to visit.
Step 4: Pre-Visit
You need to be familiar with the places you have noted down, you don’t want to be caught off guard when you take your clients to a place you are not familiar with. You can visit all or only the ones you really intend to take the clients too. I am sure you will not be charged if you tell the management of the sites that you intend to bring people to them.
During your visit, you should consider the following:
1. Distance from your meeting place
2. Mode of transport to and from the place
3. Features (what they offer)
4. Fees – that is entrance fees
5. Rules and regulations of the places
The list is not in any order, but those are the basic requirements you need to consider.
Step 5: Budget
Do the budgeting based on the entrance fee, transport costs, food if any and any more budget you need for the visit. This budget will help you decide how you will charge your clients. If you see it is too expensive to check again and make sure to cut on your budget.
When you set the amount to charge your clients you can do a bit of research on how your competitors charge. Don’t be hungry to earn more and don’t put your charges high it will scare off your potential clients.
Step 6: Marketing
You have the venue, the budget and now it is the time to look for clients, you might think it is easy and will be easy to get people to go to your place of choice. Start with your friends show them the charges and promise to waive their charges if they bring one person to the firm.
Use the Social media to your advantage, we are living in a digital world and that is an advantage, be active on social media, create a page on Facebook and name it the name of your firm, start by inviting your friends to like it. You then create an event for the place you will be visiting and invite friends, remember to include your contact details and give all the necessary information about what you intend to do. Use groups to share your page and events for wider reach.
NB: Plan early, give it like a month when you start advertising and be active posting interesting facts about your firm and the venue you want to visit, do a search if the venue has a social media account, most of them have, post your links about visiting them on their accounts.
Step 6: Visit
When the day finally comes you surely will know if you are successful, if no one turns up, there is definitely something you have not done right go back and do everything again.
During the event make sure you allow the people to interact, take the lead make them know each other, and you can start with introductions and use games to make them feel comfortable. Remember to create a guest list if you can buy a visitors book and use it to take the contacts that are fine.
During the event be a person who thinks about the future, you have clients, you need to keep them and go with them to the next event, ask them where they would want to go next and consider their suggestions. Make sure they suggest someplace, make them feel part of the group and part of the organization.
Step 7: After the Event
Well, you had a successful event and have some clients in your book, it is time now to hold on them and make sure they will be with you in the future. Since you collected all the contacts you can use social media to make them interact more. They had found new friends and might like to continue knowing each other. Invite them to a chat app on any social media, create one and add them. Use mobile phone chat apps like WhatsApp and make them be active.
Step 8: Plan for the Next One
They will be eager to do something new, suggest something new, some place to go and watch the reactions, then do it advertise and now you will get even a larger number, repeat the process and that is how we made it be one big tour firm in the country.
That is it easy yeah, we have done this for some like 10 times and are still doing it and we are not tired.
There are things learned from doing this, remember I am a Tech guy and not a hospitality or tourism guy, I manage the companies social media accounts and I am a SEO expert and configure blogs for my other clients, but I have managed to keep ahead in the tourism industry long enough to understand the workings of the industry. That is being A Smart Kenyan.
TEMBEA KENYA: Embrace Domestic Tourism in Kenya
What I learned about Domestic Tourism in Kenya:
1. Youth tends to go to such events more than any other group, so in our planning, we have managed to choose places where the youth will interact freely and benefit from the experience.
2. Kenyans in general like group activities and this is the major banking of our firm, unlike foreigners or another tourist who come to Kenya with their families, our fellow countrywomen and men want to have fun with friends and strangers or colleagues.
3. Kenyans too want to visit places they have never visited or local tourist attractions, this is contrary to the general perception held by many that we don’t visit our country.
4. It takes time just like any other business to become where they are, be patient and be smart as a Kenyan.