What you need to know:
- We are not just about travelling, we are about having fun and putting down great experiences with each trip.
- Among the unique things our package offers is a different experience, even if it's a location that you've visited before.
Muthuri Kinyamu is the 29 year old co-founder of Turnup.Travel and one of the Directors at Saffir Africa.
How did the idea of Turnup.Travel come to be?
I was the team captain of the Kenya Tourism Board Great Migration social media takeover and I met my now co-founder, Brian Gatimu, at Voyager Beach Resort during one of the trips in October 2016.
The Mombasa Raha trip impressed us so much that we at once had the idea of curating new travel experiences for the average Kenyan who had been to Naivasha too many times to count.
Brian is a photographer, actor and content producer. I am a marketing professional.
So we decided to come together to form the travel company of the future that would be part tour operator, holiday concierge and tourism content production house all under one umbrella.
In the beginning, all we wanted to do was put together great trips, unpack hidden gems and document unusual experiences. We also wanted to introduce new packages to the market and as outsiders of the industry we could see unique things around us that were often overlooked by traditional tour operators and online travel agents - we thrive in between there.
We believe the travel agent of the future will be a content creator and we've heavily invested our capabilities on the digital front to offer full-service solutions to individuals, corporations and counties.
Why the name Turnup Travel?
It's "Turnup" which means show up and "Tembea" – i.e. to travel. Turnup.Travel is our name and our web URL too and it communicates directly to the client what we are about.
We are not just about travelling, we are about having fun and putting down great experiences with each trip. Among the unique things our package offers is a different experience, even if it's a location that you've visited before.
In simple terms, going by yourself or via another travel agent to location X is completely different from going with the Turnup.Travel team. That is the underlying value we offer to each trip participant. Over 80 per cent of millennials say that they'd like to experience new places from the eyes of a local and are drawn to live experiences.
We see ourselves more as enablers and a platform of self-expression transforming your dream to memories and connecting our clients to places, events and causes that they are most passionate about like sports, culture, food, fashion and a slew of other things. Who else does a 24-hour city experience with over 75 people freely roaming around with cameras to showcase the beauty and realities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Diani, Lamu, Rusinga, Turkana and Iten? We unpack a new county or city every month. We've demonstrated the relationship between film and tourism to showcase the diverse beauty and products the country has to offer through our popular monthly Instagram Tours.
We're a lifestyle brand, maybe a lifestyle mindset and a new way of getting more out of the ordinary trip. We've built a community of like-minded travellers who are looking for something different than the usual standard packages.
To them, travel is a statement about the freedom to be and get personalized service at great prices. So yeah, want to turn up? Let's travel!
We've also given brands access to our platform and tours to reach and reward their customers so you're likely to win a phone, get free Safaricom airtime for your data, a cab on standby for the day, some beverages and cool swag when you come to one of our trips. We go a mile further to delight our clients with surprises.
For the first time, we've introduced wine tours in Kenya in partnership with Rift valley winery at Morendat Farm where you not only taste the wine but spend a day in the vineyard with the winemaker and viticulturist learning new things. Turnup.Travel teamed up with Too Early For Birds to transform the travel experience in Kenya, incorporating storytelling and giving more meaning to the sites we visit, cast the spotlight on our rich culture and heritage through Tour Early For Birds - Travelling Theatre and Stage Production.
Again, this demonstrates our versatility and understanding of what our target market is interested in or curious about and we hope to take this to other places.
In short; you won't find the exact same thing that we offer elsewhere and we do a different itinerary every time.
3. Why do you think Kenya is failing at marketing ourselves as a tourism destination?
We're pretty much new entrants and outsiders in the industry so we're questioning a lot of norms and myths. There's a loud wake-up call to innovate, test new products and focus on the experience. We have everything here so, first of all, we have to position ourselves either as a high end or mass market destination. We need to relook at our proposition to different source markets and package products tailored to different segments.
The idea of spray and pray strategies, expo circuit and playing safe is over. The tourism industry could use a bit of agility that you often find in the technology industry.
Oh, and can we stop with the Jambo Bwana? Guys have been doing the same thing for decades and expecting different results. What worked in the new millennium doesn't apply to this new generation of travellers.
There's a charm of the bygone era, the two-week African safari but consumers are looking to get more, do shorter trips more frequently.
4. What can we do better?
First, repackaging destinations for the new-age traveler. Millennials are causing shockwaves in the global travel industry and it is precisely this age group that we as a country need to calibrate our marketing efforts for.
Second, we don't utilize digital media as well as we should. Social media platforms have made destination marketing a totally different animal. There are so many markets that one can directly market to, with the simple aid of professional photos and videos. There are campers, there are backpackers, glampers, luxury travelers, surfers, safari lovers, bush lovers, beach addicts, adrenalin junkies and much more. All these respond to certain stimuli resulting in that booking being made, which is the end goal of any destination marketing campaign.
We should pry ourselves from old colonial methods of marketing. Our youth as a country is our greatest strength. The onus is on our tourism board to work with the new age of brilliant influencers who are travelling our country and showcasing it in very unique and exciting ways.
We have to rethink what we're offering people who've discovered a whole world out there on why they should come all the way - Kenya is considered long-haul destination so the proposition has to be equally compelling and not sold as "once in a lifetime".
5. Why does everyone think that travelling around our country is so expensive?
That's a perception as opposed to the truth but we have properties around in different categories. One of the reasons you should use a travel agent is because we can get you a place that fits your budget and is great value for your money. Other alternatives include self-catering options like Airbnbs, KWS bandas in parks, couch surfing, camping and homestays.
We like to use the phrase "the room service mentality". Holidaymakers in Kenya have been accustomed to packages being arranged for them. More often than not, traditional travel agents will not explore hidden gems that are easier on your wallet. There are thousands of properties in Kenya that cater for the budget traveler. There is a myriad of transport options to any destination. Most people need to make more effort in planning their holiday. Or they can simply contact us and we will give you some tips.
For example: travel off-peak. Instead of going on holiday during Easter go the week after. Develop a vacation culture where you can take a few days to explore and enjoy what's around for great rates. You don't have to go to Mara during the migration if you're looking to stretch your budget and have a great game viewing experience. Plan and book early to get the best rates and discounts that apply. Millennials are very spontaneous and Kenyans are last minute people in general. Last minute plans won't get you very far and will cause huge dents in your pocket.
Another tip: do self-catering, self-driving (or carpool) and go as far as you can.
Get familiar with local travel bloggers and vloggers pages. They do a very good job in creating content that is very useful.
6. What are some of your favourite local destinations?
In no particular order, that'd be Turkana, Takawiri and Watamu but we've not been everywhere so that could change next week. Every place has its vibe and charm!