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Thierry presenting at the KATA breakfast
Thierry Dongier presenting at the KATA breakfastt

Having an online or mobile presence is a hot topic for travel agencies in Africa.

Amadeus’ Thierry Dongier, Head of online sales, Middle East and Africa, recently discussed how retailers can unlock the digital world at the KATA Industry Meeting in Nairobi. Also in attendance from Amadeus at the KATA meeting were Senior Vice President of Amadeus Middle East and Africa Antoine Medawar as well as Amadeus Kenya Managing Director Mathieu Dutrisac, and the Sales Team led by David Chipinde.

Dongier shared the most current online trends with travel agents as well as some of the solutions Amadeus has to offer for agencies who want to take their business online.

Did you know that only five percent of bookings are made online across Africa? Click To Tweet

In Kenya, this number drops to just one percent. For those who are online, the reality is often disappointing, Dongier explained. These travel agencies invest in online technologies but see very few bookings in return.  Why is this?

One of the reasons could be that the website design is not living up to the customers’ expectations, however, the most important reason is often that the investment made to promote the website is insufficient.

The truth is that you can have the most beautiful shop, but if your shop is located in a back alley with no foot traffic, it’s unlikely to be successful. The same is true for online travel agencies. Click To Tweet
Antoine (left) and Mathieu (right) at the KATA breakfast
Antoine Medawar (left) and Mathieu Dutrisac (right) at the KATA breakfast

The large OTAs of the world invest at least 25% of their revenues in advertising alone with their total marketing budget exceeding 40%.

Skift reported that for the first six months of 2017, Priceline’s performance-advertising spend was up 23.5 percent compared with the year-earlier period. Expedia does not disclose quarterly ad spend specifically, but direct marketing costs increased 28 percent, and that would be a good approximation of its growth rate. This suggests that 2017 digital ad spend for Priceline is on pace for $4.3 billion, and Expedia for $2.9 billion.

These figures are a clear indication that your chances of driving bookings through your online channel and getting a good ROI are close to zero without Digital Marketing.

Going online also requires that travel agencies adopt a completely different mindset. This means the travel agency’s leadership needs to be completely engaged in the process and drive it. The agency will not only need the right resources in terms of people but also in terms of budgets.

For travel agencies who want to start the exciting journey of taking their agency online, Amadeus has developed unique solutions for agents to inspire and service their customers throughout their journey. We will help travel agencies grow and diversify their business by offering anything from ready-made solutions to fully customised solutions as well as guide travel agents in their online journey.

“Amadeus can help you get digital and be profitable by offering you apps, websites, flights,hotels, merchandising and many other options,” said Dongier. “However, it’s important to remember that being online is not simply having a .com. There are different ways to go digital, whether your focus is Corporate, B2C, mobile or web. The best approach is to start with your customers and expand from there.

L to R: KATA CEO Nicanor Sabula, KATA Chairman Mohamed Wanyoike, Amadeus Snr Vice President Middle East & Africa Antoine Medawar, Amadeus EA MD Mathieu Dutrisac
L to R: KATA CEO Nicanor Sabula, KATA Chairman Mohamed Wanyoike, Amadeus Snr Vice President Middle East & Africa Antoine Medawar, Amadeus EA MD Mathieu Dutrisac