Twenty years ago, aspiring travellers started planning a leisure trip by first picking up a travel brochure or contacting a travel agency, but for the most part, this is no longer the case.
Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG), has unveiled an integrated web and mobile application RTG Gateway. The government has expressed optimism that both domestic tourism will increase and international tourism industry will attract 10 percent of foreign currency inflows in 2018. This increase is backed by the international branding efforts and adoption of new technology.
RTGgateway is first for the industry from a local player, but visitors have been using similar services like AirBnB and TripAdvisor. The service is expected to promote domestic tourism by increasing prominence of smaller brands in the country, while providing convenience in service delivery across value chains.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira, who officially launched the application.
In her speech, the minister described the product as a pioneering innovation that will bring convenience to the tourism industry.
“Today marks an epic moment as Rainbow Tourism Group launches the RTG Gateway Mobile and Internet App. I am informed that this indeed is an industry first. I therefore commend RTG for pioneering the adoption of technology, which is set to revolutionise the way customers transact and access tourism and other products. Global trends have shown that business in the more developed countries is now being conducted predominantly on Internet-based platforms,” Mupfumira said.
In 2017 Bookings by Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) grew by 15% but mainstream travel agents also accounted for a 4% increase.
Travel agents need to have a strong and interesting online presence, not just because most Millennials are starting to research online, but also because they’re a fairly interested market and are more likely than older travellers to start their travel journey with an agent.
“This is an industry first and a good way to revolutionise the way people transact, it is a good step towards increasing access to tourism by everyone that is Zimbabweans here and those in the diaspora,” she said.
RTG CEO, Mr Tendai Madziwanyika said accessibility of the tourism industry will be enhanced via the application that enables users to view tourism products, make bookings and pay online, among other benefits.
“We have adopted a co-opetition approach to doing business by partnering with competition in both restaurants and hotels. This allows the customer to have a world of options to choose from” he said.
The RTG Gateway App already has 200 partners signed up, which include 40 restaurants, 30 private houses, 72 virtual partners, shuttle transport services providers among other hospitality products and service providers. About 80% of the partners are located in Harare, whilst the rest are found in Kadoma, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
Products and services available on the RTG Gateway App are as follows;
- EATS; Users can access 50 restaurants (RTG and non-RTG) offering a variety of tantalising cuisine from Traditional, Chinese, Indian, to South American. 80% of the restaurants are located in Harare, with the balance found in Kadoma, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. The App gives the user an option to choose to book a table, order and collect from the restaurant or a delivery to their location within the specified radius. At present, delivery is only possible from restaurants that are resident in RTG hotels.
- Gifts; The gifts tab offers an array of products to choose from for an array of special occasions. With over 30 listed products, users can purchase accommodation and holiday packages, meals, chocolates, flowers, jewellery and spa treatments. There are over 30 products which are set to grow as more partners list their products.
- Hotels; This tab has RTG hotels and RTG Virtual Partner Hotels and lodges. Currently 115 properties are listed on the App, with a geographical spread that covers the entire country. Launched in 2014, RTG Virtual is a partnership platform between RTG and selected hotels, lodges and tourism activity companies in Zimbabwe.
- Homes; Following the AirBnB model, this tab allows users to book a stay in a privately owned residence at very competitive prices. 40 homes are currently listed on the App. Recruitment of partners is ongoing with this number set to grow by year end.
- Liquor online; A selection of high end spirits and wines is on offer, which include Johnnie Walker, Famous Grouse, Glenfiddich whiskeys, and a variety of imported wines including Nederburg. Once payment has been made the user can collect their purchase from the Rainbow Towers Hotel & Conference Centre.
- Online Auctions; Launched in 2015, this platform allows customers to bid, win and pay for accommodation, conferencing and banqueting packages online at affordable prices.
- Events & Venues; In partnership with event organisers and promoters, users can view the trending events in the city, book and pay for their tickets on the App.
- Airport transfers; Users can book and pay for their airport transfers via the RTG Gateway App.
Payments are processed through the Paynow platform, using any of Visa, Mastercard, Zimswitch, Ecocash and Telecash.