Economies in developing countries like Uganda are embracing e-commerce now that internet is increasingly becoming available. Internet and ICTs have made trade, communication, traveling easy and punctual.
Hoteliers in Uganda are equally catching up with the trend. Their customers, many of whom come from Europe, United States, Asia have gone digital. Hotels have adopted online booking to make it easy and attractive for international travelers.
In this spirit, Forest Cottages located at Plot 17/18, Naguru Hill, Bukoto, kampala is using the internet to lure and enable their customers to book for accommodation, conferencing rooms and other facilities provided at the hotel. The hotel is a providing a 15% discount to customers who book online.
In this interview, Dhaval Macchar, the General Manager of Forest Cottages, speaks to this news website elaborating how the internet is softening their operations especially on the side of enabling customers access their services with just a click of a few buttons. Read on.
In what way has the internet revolution empowered business growth for hotels?
In last 5 Years Internet has played an extremely dramatic role in business growth of Hotel industry globally and in Uganda. Almost each & every traveler is engaged in any sort of online search before they go for either official tour or for leisure.
Online booking is emerging as an enabler in the hotel business, how is it boosting rooms’ occupancy and the entire hotel business in the hospitality industry?
As I said, every traveler is engaged in online search before traveling. Actually what happens is, by doing online hotel hunting, travelers get many options to compare with personal requirement, preference & budget.
While searching the right option as per these factors, Online Travel Agencies (OTA) like Jumia Travel, Expedia, booking.com to name a few help a lot. On these OTAs, travelers can see all the facility of the hotels.
Travelers can now check out a hotel’s facilities like different Restaurants, conference rooms and accommodation rooms, recreation and entertainment before booking and traveling. These factors help hotels to boosts the occupancy and revenue.
How do you see the future evolving with e-commerce in Uganda's tourism sector especially for hoteliers?
We can say future evolution of e-commerce is even more positive and going to be more competitive. We are in an era of e-business. People no longer move with lot of cash while traveling. Everything works online including bookings for accommodation, full conferencing facility, car hire, Tours & Travel up to the Payments. So e- commerce works like a fertilizer in hotel industry.
What merits are associated with booking online for customers?
Before finalizing the choice of hotel, majority of guests are looking at several factors. Factors like budget, location, accessibility, security, facility and most important Guest Reviews. For example if the traveler’s budget per night is $80 and his or her official work is in Kololo, the guest will never book a hotel which is located on Entebbe road even if the hotel is under his budget.
Rather he or she will book in a hotel near Kololo with a combination of good reviews and a good budget match. He will get a hotel in Kololo and its surrounding areas like Bukoto. So the criterion of choosing a hotel has lot of factors connected.
What precautions would you point out for customers to consider?
Cyber crime is on high now days, so all the guests should take care when using credit cards online. You need to make sure you are using secure payment gateway while paying online.
From your experience, what informs an online customer to choose your Hotel?
Our online customers do choose us because of positive guest reviews, budget rates, safari style accommodation with comfortable facilities and of course the forest. Forest Cottages is the only place in the heart of Kampala where you can feel like you are somewhere up country. You don’t feel like you are in Kampala.
Our place is like a real tropical forest, lush green full of nature, till date we have spotted more than 25 spices of birds at forest cottages and grows 9 different type of fruits in our forest. There are many more reason to choose us
Why do consumers prefer booking online with travel agency or directly with the hotel?
Many customers do it to make sure their bookings are confirmed without any changes. There are many online travel agencies that are prepaid - where pay in advance, that way you are sure that your booking has been confirmed and will not be cancelled.
At the same time, some guests don’t want to go for prepaid booking and want to enjoy flexibility of duration of stay, mode of payment, free cancellations and the most important best rates. Such guests prefer to go for direct booking with hotel. And returning guests do prefer to go for direct hotel booking.