Adoption of the internet as a growth strategy by small and medium sized tour operators in Kenya
Tourism is one of the six key pillars for growth under Kenya's vision 2030 and hence, this sector may be a primary means of realizing the goal of economic development of undeveloped regions. Small and midsized tour operators have a less dramatic influence on tourism volumes, but can still significantly affect the path of development by putting a new area or type of product on the map. It is vital for them to remain competitive and the use of internet and communication technology has been found to improve business competitiveness with the internet providing the opportunities for SMEs to compete on equal terms with larger organization. In spite of the internet's potential, most of the small and medium sized tour operators do not view the internet as key to their business strategy for growth. The aim of this study was to investigate how small and medium sized tour operators are using the internet in the strategies they adopt for growth. This study focused on the list of membership of tour operators from KATO. KATO has grouped its members into six major categories, (A to E and associates) depending on the gross annual turnover. A sample was drawn from each category and based on this a sample size of 100 tour companies was selected. A self-administered open and closed ended questionnaire was utilized in collecting primary data from the field. A total of 77 usable questionnaires were obtained. Both descriptive and inferential analyses were carried out. The study found out that tour operators mainly adopt market development and product development growth strategies for growth. Tour operators use internet to a great extent to enhance communication between their organization and stakeholders and in exploring and approaching new customer segments. The main purpose of deploying internet was for internal and external communication. Internet supports tour operators in overcoming the disadvantage of them being small to reach customers by taking advantage of low cost advertising, bringing new services to the market and quick and efficient expansion entry into new geographical markets. They have focused a lot on regional and international advertising but not much on establishing new distribution channels. The finding support past research that whereas firms perceive use of internet as important they do not use the internet to its full advantage for growth.