This morning I was having a discussion with a friend of mine on the tourism industry.Every thing is on hold he said,we need to find other things to do for now. I could feel his pain.

Truth is the tourism industry and the aviation industry complement each other. If one struggles the other too is bound to struggle. With the current travel restrictions due corona many businesses in the tourism and aviation industry are struggling.Many are faced with the scare of folding up.The aviation industry will need about two years to get back onto it’s feet fully. Even when the travel restrictions are lifted they’ll have the physiological and financial impact of the pandemic to deal with. Most people will still be scared of travelling or won’t have the money as other things will take priority hence won’t travel. It will take time to heal from that fear.

My suggestion to him was, start nurturing the local market.He was quick to point out that the local market wasn’t as lucrative. Many locals don’t travel let alone have the money to travel for adventure. I totally agree with this but this is so because tourism hasn’t been sold to them. The western markets we see were built over time.Travel is a habit which then grows into culture.Its the responsibility of businesses in the tourism sector to nurture this habit and later turn it into a culture they can then earn from. That’s what happened in the west, they built from scratch and now travel is a way of life. Something they can’t do without like going to church on Sunday for Christians or watching football on a weekend for football lovers..Your taught into this and doing it repeatedly it becomes a part of who you.
Many times we say Ugandans don’t save but surely they do. Atleast they spend the the little they have which is good for any market. Spending on tourism isn’t just high up on their priorities of expenditure. They spend on drinking, they spend on cars, they spend on building, marrying and other things that rank high on their priorities. It will be upon tourism players to make sure they rank so high among those priorities. In the west buying a car isn’t a bigger priority than travelling. I know its not easy but it needs to be done. Any business that’s building to last has to start with building its own internal market (foundation) before it starts looking at other outside markets. It’s a hard job and may take years but they need to start from somewhere. How do you have some of that money Ugandans spend on other things get spent on you too. The best way to do this is educate them about your business and relate it to their life and how it’s important.
We have had to do this as a company (YOUNG TREPS). Before launching we did a survey about business consulting in Uganda and the results weren’t that encouraging. I don’t recall the exact figures but less than 15% thought consulting was important and even went a head to pay for it. About 55% thought it wasn’t really all that necessary and worth paying for. In short we concluded we were dealing with a market that didn’t appreciate the service we were looking to offer and this was majorly due lack of knowledge.We accepted that people can’t appreciate what they don’t understand. So we set out to use customer education as a marketing tool. Like Steve Jobs once reckoned, the best and most effective marketing strategy is educating your clients. So we started a blog and all we did for a whole year was write about business. Enlightening people on what we called “the other way” of doing things/business.
We compared our other way to their way. Now they had something to compare with. Now they had a new perspective because all along all they knew was their old way. Now we had a new way and slowly by slowly they started seeing the difference and asking themselves the critical questions from a more informed position. During that process I personally wrote about 3 post/articles a day, 90 a month and 1,080 pieces a year. We never asked any one to come buy anything but showed them what we called the other way of doing things through these pieces that touched on various topics from book keeping, formalisation, taxation, business planning, pricing,hiring, marketing among others. Two years of dedicated education and we started seeing clients and inquiries. We set out to do the heavy lifting which we continue to do till to-date other than scramble for the few avaible clients in the market. Before we start going after foreign clients because having strong local base was vital for us. You can’t launch a missile from a canoe.
I recall the days we didn’t get people booking consultations even when they were free. Then we started seeing people and started pricing. Started with 20k,50k and now 100k where we average atleast 10 consultations a month and growing. This has taken us over four years of focusing on educating and building our own clientele from nothing. It’s paid off, continues to pay off and I believe will be the pillar of our business growth going foward. Besides the consultations we have people signing up for our main services like business registration because now they understand the value of doing so.Research because now they understand the need to understand the market before they dive right in. Accounting services because they now know why they should have their finances in order. Website and app development because they now no better. This wasn’t the case in the start.
I know it’s easier to got out for already finished products/low hanging fruits (clients) but some times the easy way isn’t the best way long term. Most times you have to go out and create your own clients from scratch if you are looking long term and sustainability.
Educating your customers is the best way to do so and the best way to market.
Jaluum Herberts Luwizza is a Speaker,Writer, Columnist with the C.E.O Magazine and Contributor with the Nile Post.He is also a Business Consultant with YOUNG TREP East Africa’s No.1 Business Management and Consultancy firm that helps people start and grow profitable businesses.
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