Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Senior Business Reporter
THE Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe has entered into a partnership with an ICT company for the development of a booking engine that will increase online hotel bookings and grow revenues. Speaking on the sidelines of the Association’s annual congress held in Nyanga last week, HAZ human resources committee chairman Mr John Chidzomba said the booking engine would place the hospitality industry on the international map.
“HAZ has been working with Place of Stone, on the design of the booking engine we call ZimVoyager.com. It will compete with other booking engines like expedia.com, agoda.com and trivago.com but this one is designed in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“We expect this engine to work because it is a locally produced software and we are on the ground to update information. International booking engines are sometimes out of date with information and promotions but when we use a locally developed programme, we can update prices and hotel features constantly to keep tourists interested in our products.”
Zimvoyager.com is expected to be operational by March next year as the developers are finalising the modus operandi of the engine. Mr Chidzomba said the engine will be open to HAZ members as well as other small operators who had found it expensive to go on international booking engines.
“Small operators will also have an online reservation, which will be connected to the booking engine thereby allowing them to receive bookings online. Our small operators were not able to go on the international booking engines in the past, but this one will make it affordable them,” he said,
He said while the engine would first service HAZ members, other operators who are registered with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority would be able to use it for a fee. The engine is expected to work well with ZTA’s e-marketing strategy to aggressively market destination Zimbabwe on digital platforms. The world over, hotels are embracing digitisation as a new way of increasing their revenue and enhancing customer experience as well as increasing hotel revenues.
Market watchers believe that when hotels take their business online, they have the ability to make themselves visible to a larger customer base, as customers can make easy comparisons of available hotels in the area they want to visit.