The Sunday Mail
THE gig economy and sharing economy have become increasingly popular in the tourism industry in Zimbabwe, offering unique opportunities for branding and marketing.
The gig economy refers to a labour market where individuals work on a temporary or freelance basis, often via online platforms. On the other hand, the sharing economy is a system where individuals share resources such as accommodation or transportation with others for a fee.
In the context of tourism branding in Zimbabwe, the gig economy has been utilised in various ways. An example is the use of freelance tour guides and local experts.
With the rise of online platforms such as Airbnb Experiences and ToursbyLocals, tourists can now book for personalised tours with local guides who have in-depth knowledge of the local destinations.
This does not only provide a unique and authentic experience for tourists, but also supports the local economy by providing income opportunities for individuals in the gig economy.
Another way the gig economy has been utilised in tourism branding in Zimbabwe is through the use of social media influencers. These individuals have large followings on social media platforms and are hired by tourism companies to promote destinations and experiences to their audiences.
This form of marketing has proven to be effective in reaching a wider audience and creating a buzz around tourist destinations.
The sharing economy has also been embraced in tourism branding in Zimbabwe. An example is the promotion of homestays and guest houses through platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway.
These forms of accommodation offer tourists more authentic and local experiences, while also providing income opportunities for the local hosts.
They have become increasingly popular among budget travellers. In addition, they have helped to diversify the tourism offerings in Zimbabwe.
Additionally, ride-sharing or ride-hailing services have also gained popularity in Zimbabwe, providing tourists with a convenient and cost-effective way of getting around the country.
However, transport operators offering these services are expected to observe the following to achieve high performance:
Showcase local culture and heritage: Transport operators are encouraged to incorporate elements of local culture and heritage into their branding. This could include using traditional designs and patterns in their vehicles, showcasing local music and cuisine and promoting cultural events, including festivals. By doing so, they can create a sense of authenticity and uniqueness for tourists, making their travel experience more memorable.
Emphasise safety and comfort: Transport operators should prioritise safety and comfort in their branding efforts. This could include highlighting the safety measures taken by their firms, showcasing modern and well-maintained vehicles, and promoting comfortable travel experiences. This will not only attract tourists but also give them a sense of security and comfort during their travels.
Promote sustainable practices: Sustainable tourism is becoming increasingly important for travellers, and transport operators are encouraged to play a significant role in promoting this.
They can brand themselves as environmentally responsible by using eco-friendly vehicles, promoting responsible waste management practices and supporting local conservation efforts.
This will appeal to conscious travellers and contribute to the overall branding of Zimbabwe as an eco-friendly destination.
Collaborate with local businesses: Transport operators are encouraged to collaborate with other local businesses — for example, hotels, restaurants and tour operators — to promote each other’s services. This will not only create a network of support for each other, but also showcase the diversity of experiences Zimbabwe has to offer. By working together, these businesses can create a cohesive brand image for Zimbabwe as a whole.
Leverage on digital marketing: In today’s digital age, it is crucial for transport operators to have a strong online presence. They can use social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to showcase their services and engage with potential tourists.
They can also partner with popular travel bloggers and influencers to promote their services and reach a wider audience. This will be beneficial to both tourists and the local economy by providing income opportunities for drivers.
In terms of branding, the gig economy and sharing economy have allowed a more personalised and authentic approach to promoting tourism in Zimbabwe. This is achieved through utilising local individuals and resources.
Tourists are able to experience the destination in a more intimate and meaningful way. This has helped to create a unique brand for Zimbabwe as a destination that values and embraces its local culture and community.
However, there are also challenges and
risks associated with the gig economy and sharing economy in tourism branding in Zimbabwe.
One major concern is the lack of regulation and oversight, which can lead to issues such as safety concerns and unfair competition.
It is important for Government and
the tourism industry to work together to establish guidelines and regulations to ensure sustainability and ethical practices in these economies.
The gig economy and sharing economy have become integral components of tourism branding in Zimbabwe.
These economies have provided unique opportunities for promoting the destination and creating a more authentic and personalised experience for tourists.
The country has also made progress in renewable energy development, with the goal of achieving 30 percent renewable energy use by 2030.
However, it is crucial for the Government and the tourism industry to address any potential risks and challenges to ensure sustainable growth of these economies in the tourism sector. This includes initiatives to protect the environment and promote responsible tourism practices.
Charles Mavhunga co-authored textbooks in business enterprising skills and is currently studying for a PhD in Management at Bindura University of Science Education. He can be contacted at: [email protected], Cell: 0772989816.