Bridge to Destinations: The Role of Travel Agencies in Hospitality Industry


Are you planning for a holiday getaway this year? Honeymoon or just a family feel good retreat? Chances are that you will most likely use tours and travel agency. The agencies are transforming the hospitality industry, the relationship between holidaymakers and holiday resorts. Kenya's hospitality industry has grown exponentially in the recent years despite occasional shocks her and there as result of high octane politics and terrorism. The prospects of the industry have been further enhanced by infrastructure projects being undertaken in and around tourism hotspot areas across the country. While more initiatives are still under the sleeves, the progress made so far has enticed investors, both local and international, who have trooped in to tap into the country’s hospitality potential. A Knight Frank report released in March corroborates this and it indicates that Kenya is top a destination in Africa for the super-rich.

The trailblazers of this rising fortunes are the tours and travel agencies. They form the key pillars of the industry that includes transportation from one place to another in form of airlines, train trips, cruise ships, tours and many others. Under the banner of KATO (Kenya Association of Tour Operators), the tour agencies have been the driving force of Kenya’s tourism. The association brings together over 400 tour and travel operators.

There are countless safari opportunities in Kenya and in the greater East Africa. These range from traditional safaris in the wild and visits to coastal paradises like Sultan Palace and mountaineering. The unlimited options of tour destinations and the logistics of getting there can be overwhelming for an ordinary holidaymaker. Tour operators function as intermediaries in the tourism distribution system linking producers and consumers. Their expertise in packaging tourism products allows for more offerings to a wider range of tourists wants, taste as well as preferences.

The net effect of this is that the tour and tours operators now wield a lot of power. Being the first point of contact with tourists, they greatly influence their choices on the destinations and accommodation. While there is a potential for conflict with this higher balance of power that pits them against the accommodation providers, there is a lying opportunity that hasn’t been fully exploited. There is the need for accommodation providers to form enduring partnerships with the tours and travel agencies. For instance, if you buy a holiday home at Sultan Palace, you can work sign a memorandum of understanding with the agent recommends your unit to tourists visiting Kikambala or the greater Kilifi coastline. When they successfully market the unit and the tourist takes residency, then you can extend some form of commission, resulting in a win-win scenario for all involved. This synergy model has already driven growth in the short-term rental segment making it the best performing out of the existing segments in the real estate industry.

Other than partnering investors in holiday accommodation should move beyond the tours and travel operators and forge alliances with conference organizers. Nevertheless, there is still more to be done to overcome existing challenges. A spotlight should be focused on improving hospitality distribution channels. In foresight, the hospitality industry is indeed destined for greater heights. Tours and travel agencies and investors in holiday homes or other categories of accommodation should gear themselves for the oncoming boom.


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