Have you explored shared economy for firm growth?

Young Japanese tourists board tour vans at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Young Japanese tourists board tour vans at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A report released last month on how Kenyan millennials travel has revealed that 51.1 per cent prefer to travel in groups, seeking shared experiences even with strangers, in a trend now influencing the marketing strategies of travel companies.

The findings, from destination marketing company, Saffir Africa, come as research points to shared activities as a growth opportunity. According to consultancy firm Juniper Research, the ‘shared economy’ was worth Sh1.8 trn ($18.6bn) last year and is estimated to reach Sh4.07 trillion ($40.2bn) by 2022.

In the case of Kenya’s millennials, the ideal is experiences and activities shared with up to 10 others.

“Smaller groups are not favoured, neither are groups bigger than 10 people,” reported Saffir Africa.

This drive to travel in groups is fueled by the chance to engage, mingle, share and socialise with others in a way that the younger generation rates as more fun than travelling in smaller groups.

This focus is already fueling the rise of different types of travel tours, such as the one-day trips organised by travel company Tembea Places, which places emphasis on sharing its fun times on social media.

“The first trip I organised was last year to Lake Magadi and it just was among friends; during the trip I took numerous photos to highlight the fun experience. When I organised the second trip, I used the photos as a selling point on our social media pages to show consumers the adventure that they will enjoy while on a trip with us.

We also focused on the activities that we would have on the day in a bid to emphasise bonding and interaction while on the trip,” said Denis Gachoki, founder, Tembea Places.

The strategy was successful, 75 per cent of the people who signed up for the trip were strangers who had seen the photos on social media and were attracted by the idea of being among people with whom they can interact and share similar interests.

“In a trip, we can have 28 people, some of them are repeat travellers who enjoyed their previous experience, but on every trip more than 50 per cent are new travellers, who saw our advertisements on Instagram and wanted to have that experience, share it and interact with new people.”

Besides travel companies, accommodation companies are also using shared experiences as a marketing strategy to attract consumers. They offer the ‘home away from home’ experience whereby consumers can stay in a stranger’s house as a local, rather than in a hotel room where they are a tourist.

For instance, Airbnb, an online hospitality service where people can rent space in people’s homes emphasises in its advertising the unique experiences and social interactions consumers can enjoy in different areas around the world, with locals, by choosing it services over staying in hotels.

The building factor in the shared economy market has been trust, as consumers become comfortable with sharing products and services with strangers.

But in a PwC survey on the sharing economy, 69 per cent of consumers said they would not trust a sharing-experience company unless recommended by someone they trust.

- African Laughter