ENHANCING KENYA’S COMPETITVENESS IN GROWING INDIA’S MICE BUSINESS

India is one of Kenya’s top tourist source markets.

Kenya is aiming at increasing its performance in this market through increasing arrivals of high value tourists. India’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) segment offers an opportunity to achieve this. Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has implemented several MICE related initiatives and wishes to share with the Kenyan travel trade some insights gained so far.

 India has over 35,000 travel agents who compete quite aggressively for business. This is partly because there are low and few barriers to entry in India’s travel sector. Indian travel trade really do not specialize on niche segments and therefore take business opportunities from both the Leisure or MICE segments.

Indian trade dealing with the MICE segments compete on pushing large volumes and low margins, hence offers are mainly price driven. Small to medium sized agents generally do not handle MICE business as their bargaining power is diminished in favor of the larger operators that deal with large volumes. Small and Medium size agents can also compete effectively from this differentiation. This differentiation will be primed on pitching experience value rather than on price. Kenya needs more Kenyan Destination Management Companies (DMCs) applying this experience value approach.

Considering that price largely drives travel demand in India, the Kenyan trade would need to be continually cautious of being pitted against each other in price wars. This arises when Indian agents are keen to compare DMCs price offers over the experience promised. Such a scenario portends the risk of destroying Kenya’s MICE business from India. This is why it is important for Kenyan DMCs to remain vigilant to arrest a price spiral that would shift Kenya from being a buyers’ market to a price taker.

Kenyan DMCs are invited to position destination Kenya correctly to their partner agents in India as a premium destination offering unrivalled value from authentic experiences all year round. This will enlighten India agents to differentiate Kenya from the usual menu of popular MICE destination offered to India corporates.

Feedback on Kenya experiences from Corporate Buyers

Corporate buyers were recently hosted on a fam trip and enjoyed unique experiences in Nairobi, Mombasa and Maasai Mara. In a post trip feedback session, the corporate buyers reported that they had superior satisfaction levels that exceeded their expectations.

They noted that Kenya is a great destination that is ideal for small MICE groups of about 200 people but most ideal for intimate top executives, top and mid-level management.

Kenya was also seen as an excellent incentive destination for a corporates’ value chain partners and top performing staff.

In comparison to other MICE destinations, Kenya was noted to be relatively more expensive than the European, Asian or Middle East destinations. This was attributed to the need for the services of a DMC in Kenya to execute the package. The buyers also pointed out some factors that make Kenya a great MICE destination. These are:

  • Easy visa processing
  • Excellent flight connectivity to Nairobi and Mombasa
  • Indian cuisine is found in all touristic destinations. The pan-Indian cross section of dishes and cooking styles is of high quality and delectable for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
  • Wildlife experience is a thrill owing to huge concentrations of diverse and unique wildlife in breathtaking landscapes and horizons. The good mobile network coverage and connectivity in Kenya allow for live streaming experiences from hand held gadgets to family and friends back in India.
  • Kenya delivers inspired meetings in the bush in an Out of Africa style surrounded by wildlife and pristine nature.
  • The multi-experience Kenya Coastline allows for mixing of serious business with lazy relaxation and encounters with the culture as well as the warm and friendly people of Kenya. Kenya’s coastline has pristine white sandy beaches that are coral reef protected with warm waters, cool breezes and opportunity for spa experiences.
  • The vibrant metros of Nairobi and Mombasa offers business and leisure pursuits with great nightlife; and easy and convenient connection to all parts of Kenya.
  • Opportunities for memorable unique experiences that include experiencing wildlife in several themes in Nairobi, shopping, the Light and Sounds show at Fort Jesus Museum, bush sundowners and dinners, Maasai village visit and a meeting with the village chief, dances and purchase of beaded items.

Gaining competitiveness in increasing India MICE business:

In order to enhance Kenya’s competitiveness in increasing MICE business, Kenyan DMCs should avoid engaging in price wars through undercutting each other. Indian corporate buyers are willing to pay a premium price for a great experience.

Nairobi hoteliers and DMCs further need to empower tourists to experience Nairobi by day and by night. This would be achieved by advising them appropriately on what the city has to offer.

The trade should also work with KTB in addressing any negative perceptions pertaining to Nairobi.