The leading tourism trends in 2016-2017 include a move towards adventure and active travel and an increase in the Millennial segment of the total market of travelers. From diving with sharks to African safaris, Millennials and other travel demographics are looking for authentic and memorable tourism experiences.
With its plethora of unique tourism activities, African countries have benefited from the above trends. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism GDP in Sub Sahara Africa grew 3.3% in 2015 and the 10-year outlook for the region projects 5.2% growth through 2026. It is also worth noting that approximately 60% of African tourism comes from the US, UK and France.
In order to cater to and attract these travelers, tour operators in East Africa must adopt digital payments.
Benefits of Digital Payment Solutions for Tour Operators in East Africa
Digital payment solutions, such as online payments, mobile money and mobile points of sale (mPOS) bring a number of significant benefits that are especially advantageous for East African tour operators:
Integration of digital payment methods via a trusted payment service provider (PSP) ensures a high level of security for online and mobile payment receipt by tour operators. PSPs that comply with PCI DSS level 1 standards offer the highest level of protection against online fraud. These PSPs also provide additional services such as, real-time risk monitoring, security breach identification and updated black lists which further protect transactions.
Online payment solutions, as well as mPOS solutions, do not store customer payment details locally, creating a highly secure environment for traveler payment. Tour operators who offer this service can increase the volume of online bookings, as travelers will feel more confident and comfortable completing payments.
Improved customer experience
Today’s tech savvy travelers expect a seamless experience, from researching an attraction all the way through to booking and payment. Integration of an online payment platform on your website will enable potential customers to make reservations and pay for their visit in advance. It also enables customers to pay for their visit in their own currency and choose their preferred method of payment, further improving the user experience.
Mobile payment methods, such as mobile wallets, mobile money and mPOS, also help to enhance the customer experience. These provide customers with the ease and flexibility to book and pay for excursions quickly, easily and safely on-the-go, further increasing customer satisfaction from the booking and payment process.
Larger customer base
Tour operators that integrate digital payment capabilities can expand their reach, as these make it possible for them to easily accept bookings from more customers worldwide. Domestic sales will improve as well, as Africans are the leading adopters of mobile money, claiming 64% of all mobile money accounts.
Integrating digital payment solutions will also result in an increase in revenues, thanks to the above advantages (security, customer experience and market reach). mPOS solutions offer an additional opportunity to increase bookings and revenues, allowing tour operators to upsell additional activities, tours or services while on location, be it an additional trip later in a visitor’s stay, or an added attraction on the current excursion.
Tour operators show take advantage of the digital payment trend, today
According to PhoCusWright, by the end of 2017, 52% of all travel bookings in Europe will be done online, and 45% in North America. Mobile bookings are also gaining popularity internationally, with 34% of global online bookings done via a mobile device in 2015 according to Criteo, and an estimated 60% of the US originated online bookings will be completed over mobile devices in 2017 according to eMarketer.
These trends along with the fact that two thirds of Millennials are comfortable planning and booking their entire trip over a mobile device, according to Think with Google, should hasten African tour operators to adopt digital payment solutions. With tour and activity providers finding that online booking service integration leads to a significant increase in bookings, tour operators should make this important move sooner, rather than later, in order to keep up with their target markets’ preferences and enjoy the many benefits these solutions provide.