E-Tourism Frontiers was created from many years of experience of working in online consultation with both public and private sector Tourism bodies in emerging markets with a proactive model of affordable, accessible and locally appropriate events and training.
We provide training to both National Destinations and regional and city Destination Managers in South Africa, Kenya, Jordan, Greece, Qatar, Mozambique, Palestine, Uganda, Rwanda, Zanzibar and many more. We train not just in the skills and techniques for online management and marketing, but also help destinations to develop strategies and campaigns and to find locally available and appropriate solutions.
Our Approach is simple but very effective:
- We undertake in depth audits and clinics of your online and social presence and use these to help develop a plan to upgrade and improve your digital strategy.
- We help evaluate and define tourism products and experiences and identify the right target markets for them
- We show you how to develop the right content to communicate these experiences to these markets
- We help identify the best channels to deliver this content to the right audience
- We show you how to measure and manage the results
- We help to develop a long term sustainable strategy for success in the future
Why is this important for Destinations? The global domination of online sales has created over US$400 Billion in annual sales. Data clearly shows that the crossover point between rising online sales and descending offline sales has passed as Europe and Asia follow the trends that have revolutionized the US Travel trade. A recent poll of departing international travellers shows a remarkable 98% using online as their primary source of information- and with a global average of over 60% of all travel now distributed online- it has become the predominant channel for sales.
Yet many emerging markets are excluded almost entirely from this business. A survey of many most emerging tourism economies shows that actual online conversion of sales, either directly of via intermediaries is virtually non-existent. In Africa for example, less than 5% of all travel is sold online.
This is a clear example of Larry Irving’s “Digital Divide” theory, by which technology widens the poverty gap between technologically able business communities in the developed world and a new generation of “information have-nots” in the developing world. In some countries, e-commerce is illegal, and banks cannot (and in some cases are not willing to) accept online payments. This is a major block to the basic ability to carry out ICT sales- and must be overcome.
While some tourism economies have invested in large scale, information rich, destination sites which have achieved high search rankings and visibility, very little has been done to move them beyond information only status. There has been little investment in targeted contextual marketing, and only limited attempts to develop public- private sector partnerships for conversion of traffic to sales through portals. This is matched at a private sector level by a lack of investment in inventory management, online reservations systems or CRM technology, or even in use of dynamic. This also presents a threat of developing inequitable sales models, by which inventory in form of package sales are commoditized and sold on by foreign based operators.
Social media, blogging and consumer generated media trends that have become vital tools in the promotion of travel generate a great deal of discussion and media on Africa, but without proper management and encouragement of user generated content or conversion models this does little to generate any direct business.
Yet there are relatively simple ways to reverse these trends. Online tourism has become a booming business, and the digital divide represents a vast potential for commerce, investment and infrastructural development. For travel intermediaries, technology firms and marketing media, this is a rich new frontier. But this needs to be regulated, sustainable and equitable, to prevent the predominance (through lack of educated decision making processes and strategic planning) of inappropriate or exploitative business models. Equally, there is a need for a level online playing field to be sure that SMEs and community based and eco tourism ventures are not left behind and find solutions for representation in portals and regional partnerships, and e-commerce solutions to allow equitable distribution.
There is a clear need for extensive public-private sector partnerships and shared resources and initiatives.
We have seen numerous success stories emerge from our events – and will see many more as we bring these markets online.
By bringing together key players to be educated, informed and inspired at E-Tourism specific conferences, and including international intermediaries, technology and service providers, we can create a shift in local business cultures and practices, encourage strategic investment and planning and generate business.