Interview With The Yellow Pages Kenya Managing Director Pedro Gomes On The Relaunch Of TravelDiscoverKenya.com
I recently had the privilege of attending the relaunch of the Travel Discover Kenya (TDK) website by Yellow Pages Kenya. TDK is one of Kenya’s most comprehensive digital travel resources as of this writing that is aimed squarely at the local tourism market. Indeed, Kenya as we know has had a rough time in tourism in general where international tourists are concerned so many local travel destinations are increasingly relying on the local market to thrive.
Therefore, it was really awesome to get an opportunity to interview Pedro Gomes who is the Managing Director of Yellow Pages Kenya which is the company behind TDK. Pedro was kind enough to share his perspectives on how TDK aims to make a difference in Kenya’s tourism sector going forward given the increasing uptake of local tourism. Here is the interview we had:
MK: What informed the decision for Yellow Pages Kenya to invest in developing a digital destination for travel in the form of the TDK website?
PG: This is just but a complement to the already existing print edition ‘Travel Discover Kenya’ guide which the company publishes at the beginning of every year. The decision to invest in the TDK website was spurred by a few major factors, one being that a lot of people today access information, via their mobile phones, laptops, desktops, tablets, etc. So, basically, why not make this information easily accessible? The other factor was that the online platform is very flexible, in that we are able to feature the latest news and manage real time updates so as to keep the content fresh. This is also one of the reasons that the website is mobile friendly.
MK: As Kenya’s tourism has experienced major challenges over the past decade or so, where does TDK fit in?
PG: the TDK website has been tailor-made with the local tourist in mind. We as locals have such power to destroy or build the image of our country. We need to speak positive things about the unique features found in Kenya and this can only be done by people visiting these places, taking pictures, videos, and sharing these memories and posting these on TDK. We are ones who can authentically tell the stories about Kenya. We want to leverage the local perspective as opposed to the International perspective and thus the target local tourists. But this does not mean that the information posted on TDK cannot be accessed by the international markets, it is.
MK: Exactly how does the partnership between TDK and TripAdvisor work and how does this add value for all stakeholders?
PG: TripAdvisor is a globally recognized brand so TDK partnered with TripAdvisor so as to give people the chance to give feedback in terms of rating the places they visit in Kenya. A lot of people take TripAdvisor reviews very seriously and this in essence helps local hotels, restaurants and everyone else who supports the tourism industry to not only market themselves but to also improve in areas highlighted by the feedback.
MK: Where do you see TDK going in the next 2 to 5 years? How will it evolve to serve stakeholder interests as far as tourism in Kenya is concerned?
PG: TDK is already bigger than anything we could have imagined! I say this in confidence as we have the backing of our experience and the contact database that the Yellow Pages Kenya has built over the years. TDK is NOT a competitor to any stakeholders in Kenya’s tourism industry but a platform to avail this information for free. We envision TDK as a digital travel destination that serves both the local and international markets since one can visit and explore many of Kenya’s diverse tourist destinations. They can also share pictures and videos on TDK. All the contacts and the information related to this industry is readily available. All stakeholders in the Kenya’s tourism sector will benefit from TDK as traffic will be directed to the respective tourism contacts.
MK: Since you launched the enhanced TDK a couple of weeks ago, what has the response been by tourism stakeholders in Kenya and in uptake in general?
PG: Stakeholders asking us how they can maximise their exposure and tap in to the ever increasing traffic. Great feedback is being received due to attributes such as the website being mobile-friendly, as well as simple and easy to use. We are also receiving pictures and videos from people wanting to share their experiences with other tourists on TDK. This is what we envisioned the website to provide, a platform for Kenyans to discover new tourism experiences right here in Kenya.
MK: What does it take for a tourism business to be included and reviewed on TDK? How often is your content updated to reflect the very latest market information for travellers?
PG: All businesses in Kenya’s tourism sector can be automatically be reviewed and added to TDK – we just need to direct their attention there which is why it is very important to work with ALL stakeholders to provide us with rich and unique content about their businesses. New content streams in every day through the pictures and videos shared by the public so credit is due to them. We also have a team that is constantly working on the website to update fresh content and integrate requests received from stakeholders.
MK: Does TDK intend to eventually become a full-service online travel agent or OTA going forward given that you have so much local tourism content?
PG: No this is not our intention, Yellow Pages Kenya has been a pillar to assist businesses by providing useful information so as to reach the masses. Our main work is to do what we do best – provide a platform that has all this information for free where TDK is concerned.