The immediate impediment to the drive for increased Domestic Tourism appears to be the view held by the majority of Zimbabweans that tourism is an elitist activity which should be the preserve of the super rich and foreigners. If they get free time, the should rush kumusha (the rural home) to be with their loved ones. This is the mindset we need to shift, inch by inch, until the majority of our people see the benefit of tourism.
My concern in this blog, however, is to cure the misplaced notion of those already converted that, simply because one is a Domestic Tourist, one deserves the best at the least cost, without considering the circumstances. This blog also aims to highlight those aspects of tourism marketing which the Domestic Tourist can take advantage of.
Domestic Tourists tend to have a chip on their shoulders – accusing tourism facility operators of treating varungu/vazungu or foreign tourists better than them. This, of course, is not true. It all boils down to the planning and handling of the reservation. The foreign tourist or the local and regional murungu normally books well in advance, states exactly what s/he wants and expects and on arrival simply gets the service he or she deserves and more.This is just delivering what has been promised and paid for. If you, the Domestic Tourist, book in advance, stating your requirements and expectations for your holiday, and pay for the services or arrange a manner of paying for the services and products, you will get superlative treatment and service delivery. Arriving in a resort town like Kariba or Victoria Falls, for example, as we see some people do, without a reservation or game plan over a peak season period is not a done thing. You are basically priming yourself for disappointment. It’s worse when you expect people to drop their prior commitments and demand that they attend to your needs. They are not being discouteous to you if they do not attend to you immediately, but they have prior and paid for commitments. Plan better. Plan ahead.
Know what you are reserving. Do not be surprised when you arrive at your destination. There are various accommodation classes, all catering to decided markets. It’s not often that one facility suits everyone’s requirements. This is where I derived the title of my blog. Often we see everyone wanting the best available in terms of luxury, even though one’s budget does not warrant that. Someone I know described this phenomenon as wanting a champagne party on a Chibuku budget. You see people insisting on getting the very best facilities at discounted prices over a peak period. Let me put this bluntly – this does not make business sense for the facility operator and if he or she turns you down, it is not because you are a Domestic Tourist with less money, but just that when one is providing a product/service of high value, one expects to be paid the right price at peak times. Let me go on to explain seasons.
Seasons in Tourism
If you watch the market trends closely, you can enjoy these luxurious facilities at reduced rates during the Low Season. Tourism has Low, Medium and High Seasons. During High Seasons ( also called Peak Seasons or In-Seasons), demand for a property and its services is highest. Maximum rates maybe charged at such times. It is not the best time to draw your Domestic Tourist card and attempt to get a discounted rate. You won’t be playing fair. Over Low Seasons, the demand is subdued.When demand is low for a service, operators would rather lower their rates than lose out completely. The reasoning behind this is simple. Guestrooms are perishable products. Once a night is not booked, this represents business lost forever. Due to this perishability, operators would rather offer Specials or Discounts in order to mitigate against the loss. They cannot stockpile a room night to sell later, so they devise innovative pricing, promotion and planning schedules which the Domestic Tourist should benefit from. Watch for these. As a rule of thumb, all school and public holidays are Peak Seasons.
Both tourism facility operators and the Domestic Tourist should embrace technology. You need to find each other easily, at the click of a button. The operator should stay up-to-date with market trends. Such an operator shall be discovered, booked and be remembered for offering top class service. So should be the Domestic Tourist. It should be easy to find pertinent information on digital platforms on the destination one wants to visit or the particular facility one booked. If I am not mistaken, the Zimbabwean government has decided to lower duty on smartphones in order to increase data usage. Embrace technology and enjoy making informed choices.
I will be bringing more tips next week. Till then, keep the champagne on ice – we will celebrate later this year.
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Laiton Kandawire is a Kariba-based Writer and Blogger. He is also an established Kariba Destination Planner, Incentive Travel Organizer and a certified ZimHost. He sits on the Boards of Kariba Publicity Association and Kariba Development Trust. His media training enriches his writings. Laiton can be contacted on +263 772817733 and +263773920858 (WhatsApp as well) or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.