The COVID-19 Business Info Hub spoke with David Gonahasa, an African tourism enthusiast and CEO of Tripxio, an SME that has built a unique solution to help tourism businesses survive through the serious effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the lessons SMEs in the sector can learn from to ensure their survival post-COVID.

What have the effects of COVID-19 been on the tourism sector?

From the onset, 2020 screamed opportunity for Uganda tourism. The year on year growth trend was expected to continue, and operators were looking to drive sales as high as possible in anticipation of a possible slowdown caused by 2021 being an election year.

Four months into the year, the entire tourism sector, which contributes 7.5% of GDP, shut down due to COVID-19. The largest hotel chains have laid off staff, some operators are completely bowing out, and according to Uganda Tourism Board, about 460,000 jobs are on the line. The lockdown will soon be over, and people will travel again; however, for some operators, the damage may be irreparable. It could be up to a year before international tourists, who have long been the core backbone of the sector revenue, start to flock Uganda again. Without these visitors, operators that start over will still be in the eye of the storm and will have to be at their most innovative to navigate this period.

What does survival look like?

Sector specialists expect that tourism will restart with domestic and regional market bookings and that eventually international tourists will return. This brings up questions around how to target the domestic market and whether the market is sufficiently large to keep the sector afloat. Targeting domestic and regional tourists may be a viable option for operators to not only create cash flows post-COVID but also start to rebuild destination confidence, particularly since most people (including international tourists) will travel to places where other people go.

Is the market sufficiently large? Yes. The African Development Bank reports Uganda’s middle class makes up 18% of the population, which is about 7.2 million people. The same report places the upper-middle-class number at about 1.5 million individuals. This would indicate that there are over 1 million Ugandans likely to be able to afford to pay for tourism or experience-related products, as well as groups like schools and churches.

What is important is changing the mindset around domestic or regional travel and finding new ways of communicating customer experience. Local tourism operators have long been reluctant to focus on the domestic market with the viewpoint that “Ugandans don’t travel.” This view is now gradually changing to “Ugandans prefer to travel to international destinations as opposed to local National Parks.” Data from Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) that indicates that 49,000 Ugandans traveled to the Emirate in 2018 may confirm this view when taking into account that this is larger than the number of East African Residents who traveled to most Ugandan National Parks in the same year. The value to the potential domestic or regional tourist traveling to a Ugandan National Park needs to be effectively communicated – and that means highlighting things like price, convenience, scenic beauty, and the customer experience that can be expected. Marketing should focus on being empathetic and relatable – it is not the time for “come to my destination” type marketing. The #TravelTomorrow campaign is one to ride on.

How can industry players practically re-invent themselves post-COVID?

In more developed markets, tourism is highly fragmented and specialized. Products are tailored to suit the target audience’s needs and desires. This innovation creates differentiation and relevance for operators. It drives consistent bookings. In Uganda, tourism is still characterized by product homogeneity, Operators sell the same National Park deals, for the same number of days, and in many cases, even for the same price. For competing operators, conversion comes down to how much an agent has to spend on marketing or how well networked they are.

A few recommendations to consider include:

Rethink and redevelop products.

Operators should:

  • Identify their target customers. Who are operators selling to?
  • Understand their motivations to purchase tourism or experience products. Are they looking to relax? To engage with culture and history?
  • Build products around that, ensuring that what are you selling and why they should buy from you are clear.

Rethink distribution & digitalize business operations.

With an effective technology solution, an operator can start distributing packages and promotions for later dates, accept installments, and start to guarantee revenues. Business survival calls for improving efficiency across many areas, primarily product distribution, conversion, and maximizing customer spend. Digitalizing tourism sales and operations is one way to achieve this, enabling front end e-commerce and back end operations capabilities.

Digitalization has for long seemed very expensive and out of reach for many operators; however, there are a number of solutions today that will allow an operator to achieve this at a fraction of the cost. Tripxio (hello@tripxio.com) is one such solution that helps businesses develop, distribute, and sell tourism and experience products online. It allows businesses access to e-commerce websites, itinerary builders, digital marketing, and bookings and payments systems, and generally enables them to manage back-office operations and customer relationships all in one place. This solution is a software as a service model, which implies a limited cost of acquisition to the business with the benefits of running an in-house technology team.

Get creative about marketing and public relations.

Marketing and public relations activities should not stop for agents, even if travel is limited. It is pertinent to remain visible and use this time to build customer expectations. Marketing should focus on being empathetic and relatable – it is not the time for “come to my destination” type marketing. The #TravelTomorrow campaign is one to ride on. Communicate what your business is doing to be better post-COVID and what inclusive tourism strategies are being implemented to ensure sustainability not only for the business but also for nearby communities. Answer questions like “What is the business story? Why does it matter?” As the lockdown is loosened and people start to travel, show that people are coming to your destinations. This will drive confidence, and more visitors will come. If you are unsure of how to craft this kind of messaging yourself, there are numerous communications professionals out there that can support this process.

 

 

 

Engeri eby’obulambuzi mu Uganda gye biyinza okufaanana oluvannyuma lw’okusimattuka  ssennyiga omukambwe.

Omukutu gwa Covid-19 Business Info Hub gwayogerako ne David Gonahasa, ng’ono mwagazi nnyo ow’eby’obulambuzi mu Africa ate nga ye nnannyini kitongole kya Tripxio ng’eno SME eyagunjizzaawo enkola ey’enjawulo okugezaako okuyamba abaddukanya emirimu gy’eby’obulambuzi okusobola okusimattuka embeera ya ssennyiga omukambwe. Gano ge gamu ku masomo abali mu ttabi ly’eby’obulambuzi ge basobola okuyiga gabayambe okusigalawo oluvannyuma lwa Covid.

 Eby’obulambuzi bikoseddwa bitya embeera ya ssennyiga omukambwe?

Mu ntandikwa, omwaka 2020 gwali gusuubirwa okuba n’omukisa ogw’amaanyi mu by’obulambuzi bya Uganda. Enkulaakulana ebaddenga ebeerawo buli mwaka yali esuubirwa era ng’abaddukanya eby’obulambuzi beesunze okukola ennyo olw’okuba baali basuubira nti ate omwaka ogunaddirira ogwa 2021 ebintu biyinza obutatambula bulungi olw’okuba gujja kubaamu eby’okulonda.

Ng’omwaka gwakatambulako emyezi ena gyokka, ettabi ly’eby’obulambuzi nga lino likola ebitundu 7.5% ku mugatte gw’ebintu byonna ebikolebwa mu ggwanga (GDP) lyaggalwawo olwa Covid-19. Wooteeri ennene zisazeeko abakozi, ababadde baziddukanya abamu ekintu boolekedde okukivaamu era okusinziira ku kitongole ky’eby’obulambuzi mu ggwanga (Uganda Tourism Board), emirimu egikunukkiriza mu 460,000 giri mu lusuubo.

Omuggalo gunaatera okuggyibwawo era abantu baddemu okutambula nate, wabula eky’ennaku kiri nti abamu ku baddukanya emirimu gy’eby’obulambuzi bayinza okuba nga bakoseddwa nnyo era nga kizibu okuddamu okwetereeza. Kiyinza okutwalira ddala omwaka mulamba ng’abalambuzi abava ebweru w’eggwanga tebannaddamu kuyiika mu ggwanga sso ng’ate be babadde bakwatiridde eby’enfuna by’ettabi ly’eby’obulambuzi ebbanga lyonna. Abagenyi bano we batali, abaddukanya eby’obulambuzi bajja kusigala nga bali mu muyaga era nga kijja kubeetaagisa okubeera abatetenkanya ennyo okusobola okuvvuunuka akaseera kano.

Okusimattuka kufaanana kutya?

Abakugu mu ttabi lino basuubira nti eby’obulambuzi bijja kutandika na katale aka wano wamu n’emiriraano awo oluvannyuma abalambuzi abava mu mawanga ag’ebweru balyoke bakomewo. Kino kireetawo ebibuuzo ku ngeri y’okuluubiriramu akatale kano n’okukakasa nti kanene ekimala okusobola okubeezaawo ettabi ly’eby’obulambuzi.

Okuluubirira abalambuzi aba wano mu ggwanga wamu n’emiriraano kirabika nga kisobola okukolera abaddukanya eby’obulambuzi, ssi kubaleetera buleetezi ku kasente wabula n’okuddamu okuzimba obwesigwa mu bifo byabwe olw’okuba abantu abasinga (ng’ogasseko n’abalambuzi abava ebweru) beeyunira nnyo okugenda mu bifo ebyettaniddwa abantu abalala.

Akatale kko kanene ekimala? Bwe kiri. Okusinziira ku alipoota ya African development Bank, Uganda erina abantu abalina enfuna ey’ekigero abawera 18% nga be bantu obukadde 7.2. Alipoota y’emu era eraga nti abantu abalina enfuna esukkulumyeko bawera akakadde 1.5. Kino kiba kitegeeza nti banna Uganda abawerera ddala akakadde kalamba balina obusobozi bw’okusasulira eby’obulambuzi, kuno kwogatta n’ebibinja ng’amasomero wamu n’amakanisa.

Ekikulu kwe kulaba nga tukyusa endowooza zaffe ku by’okutambula wano mu ggwanga oba ku miriraano wamu n’okuzuula engeri empya ze tusobola okwogerezeganya ne ba kasitoma.

Abaddukanya eby’obulambuzi wano mu ggwanga ebbanga lyonna babaddenga tebafaayo kutunuulira katale  ka wano nga balina endowooza nti “banna Uganda tebalambula”. Endowooza eno egenze ekyuka n’efuuka nti “Banna Uganda bettanira kulambula bifo ebiri mu mawanga ag’ebweru okusinga okulambula amakuumiro g’ebisolo agaffe aga wano”

Bwino okuva mu kitongole ekiddukanya eby’obulambuzi e Dubai (Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing) alambika nti Banna Uganda abawerera ddala 49,000 be baagenda mu kibuga Emirate mu mwaka gwa 2018 asobola okukakasa endowooza eno, bw’otunuulira embeera nti omuwendo guno gusinga ogw’abatuuze b’obuvanjuba bwa Africa abaalambula amakuumiro g’ebisolo mu Uganda mu mwaka gwe gumu.

Abalambuzi aba wano wamu n’ab’emiriraano beetaaga okunnyonnyolwa obulungi omugaso gw’okulambula amakuumiro g’ebisolo aga wano, kino kiba kitegeeza okubatangaaza ku bintu nga emiwendo, obwangu, obulungi bw’ebifo n’ebirala bingi ba kasitoma bye baba basuubira. Akatale kalina okunoonyezebwa mu ngeri eraga okufaayo ennyo ku ba kasitoma ate ng’obalaga nti bagasibwa mu kintu ekyo. Kano si ke kadde aka “mujje mulambule ku kifo  kyaffe” wabula enkola eya #Osobola okutambulako enkya” y’eriko kati.

Abali mu mulimu gw’eby’obulambuzi bakoze batya okwezza obuggya oluvannyuma lwa Covid?

Mu butale obwakulaakulana, eby’obulambuzi bikutulwakutulwamu nnyo ate nga biddukanyizibwa okusinziira ku bumanyirivu. Ebintu biteekebwateekebwa okubeera nga bituukagana bulungi n’obwetaavu bw’abo abasuubira okubikozesa. Enkola eno eyamba okuteekawo enjawulo wamu n’okukola ebintu ebituukiridde obulungi ekiyamba abaddukanya ebifo okubeera nga buli kaseera bafuna abaagala okugendayo.

Wano mu Uganda eby’obulambuzi bikyali mu mbeera ey’okuba nga bifaanagana; ababiddukanya bonna beesigama ku kulambula makuumiro ga bisolo, okumala ennaku ezifaanagana, emirundi egisinga nga n’emiwendo gye gimu. Mu bantu abavuganya, enjawulo bagifuna kusinziira ku muwendo gwe baba batadde mu kulanga oba ku ngeri gye baba bazimbye emirandira gy’ebintu byabwe okusobola okufuna akatale.

Bino bye birowoozo ebitonotono omuntu by’ayinza okutunulamu;

Ddamu olowooze wamu n’okuzimba by’otunda

Abaddukanya emirimu gino basaanye bakole bino;

  • Tegeera abantu b’oluubirira. By’otunda oyagala kubiguza ani?
  • Manya ebibasikiriza okubeera nga bagenda okulambula. Banoonya kuwummulako? Baagala kutegeera bya buwangwa wamu n’ebyafaayo?
  • Zimba ebintu byo nga weetooloolera ku nsonga ezo, otegeere by’otunda wamu n’ensonga lwaki bateekeddwa okubikugulako.

 

Ddamu olowooze ku ngeri y’okubunyisa ebintu era olowooze ku kukwasaganyiza emirimu ku mutimbagano

Ng’ofunye enkola ya tekinologiya ennungi, abali mu mulimu guno basobola okutandika okugaba ebitereke wamu n’ebirabo eby’okukozesebwa mu maasoko, okutandika okuddiza ku ba kasitoma (promotions) , okukkiriza abasasula mu bitundutundu basobole okutandika okuyingiza ku ssente.

Bizinesi okusobola okubeerawo kiba kyetaagisa okulongoosa enkwasaganya y’ebintu mu bitundu eby’enjawulo naddala mu kubunyisa ebintu,  okusikiriza abakyalira website yammwe wamu n’okusendasenda ba kasitoma okwongera ku nsaasaanya yaabwe. Okukwasaganyiza emirimu gy’eby’obulambuzi ku mutimbagano y’emu ku ngeri eyinza okukusobozesa okubituukiriza kubanga emirimu osobola okugikwasaganyako okuva ku ntandikwa ppaka ku nkomerero.

Okukwasaganyiza emirimu ku mutimbagano kibadde nga kya bbeeyi era nga bangi tebakisobola, naye kati waliwo engeri nnyinji omuntu mwasobola okuyita okufuna enkola eno ng’ataddemu ka ssente katono.

Tripxio y’emu ku by’okuddibwamu ebiyamba bizinesi okukula, okubunyisa wamu n’okutunda eby’obulambuzi ku mutimbagano.

Esobozesa zi bizinesi okukwatagana n’emikutu gy’eby’obusuubuzi ku mutimbagano, abateekateeka eby’entambula, okunoonyeza obutale ku mutimbagano, okukwata ebifo wamu n’eby’ensasula nga kw’otadde okukwasaganya emirimu gyonna egyetaagisa mu kifo kimu (abakozi ab’omunda wamu n’abo abakwatagana obutereevu ne ba kasitoma)

Kano kaba ka software akatagula buwanana naye nga kayamba okuba ng’olina tekinologiya owuwo gw’okozeseza mu kifo ekyo.

Beera mutetenkanya mu kunoonya obutale wamu n’okuzimba enkolagana n’abantu ba bulijjo.

Obwa kitunzi wamu n’okuzimba enkolagana n’abantu ba bulijjo tebisaana kukoma newankubadde nga mu kiseera kino okutambula kutono ddala. Kya mugaso nnyo okusigala ng’olabika era kozesa obudde buno okuzimba ba kasitoma bye bakusuubiramu.

Akatale kalina okunoonyezebwa mu ngeri eraga okufaayo ennyo ku ba kasitoma ate nga obalaga nti bagasibwa mu kintu ekyo. Kano si ke kadde aka “mujje mulambule ku kifo  kyaffe” wabula enkola eya #Osobola okutambulako enkya” y’esaana okutambulirako kati.

Tegeeza abantu bizinesi yo by’ekola okusobola okubeera nga yeeyongeddeko oluvannyuma lwa Covid na bukodyo ki mu by’obulambuzi bwe mugezaako okuteeka mu nkola okusobola okukakasa okubeerawo kwayo wamu n’okw’ebitundu ebyetooloddewo.

Ddamu ebibuuzo nga “olugero lwa bizinesi eno luli lutya? Lwaki yeetagisa?” omuggalo bwe gunaagenda gukkakkanyizibwa abantu ne batandika okutambula, mulage nti abantu bajja mu bifo byammwe. Kino kijja kuzimba obwesigwa era abagenyi abalala bangi bajja kusobola okubeeyunira.

Bwoba teweekakasa ngeri gy’oyinza kuteekateekamu bubaka buno ku lulwo, waliyo abakugu mu by’empuliziganya bangi abasobola okukuyambako mu kukikola.