Tourism Sector in Kenya: An Overview of Travel Agency Pinnacle (K) Travel & Safaris

Lyz Mbugua shares her assessment of the tourism sector in Kenya and gives an overview of Pinnacle (K) Travel & Safaris Limited, a travel agency based in Nairobi, which was established in 2004. She also discusses competitive advantages and shares her vision for the future of the company.

Interview with Lyz Mbugua, Director of Pinnacle (K) Travel & Safaris Limited

Lyz Mbugua, Director of Pinnacle (K) Travel & Safaris Limited

What is your assessment of the tourism sector? What are the latest trends? Is the sector competitive?

The tourism sector is very competitive at the moment. There are many travel agents, but also many airlines who do not want the travel agents. It is quite difficult to be in a business where you may not be wanted. When you try to make money, you cannot because the airlines are often making decisions that are not right for us. We need to do more than just air tickets to make profits.

What does Kenya offer? How does Kenya stand out from other destinations?

We want to be recognized not just in Kenya but outside as well. We want to make packages that target not only people who have money but also those people who want to see something different but cannot afford it.

Kenya has a lot to offer, but we are not well known. Out there, people only think of us as good runners. We have beautiful beaches, beautiful safaris. We have all the animals apart from those that cannot survive here. We have mountains for people who like to mountain climb. We have small lakes and bird watching as well. Many people come to Baringo just to watch birds. We would want to sell all that as a package. There are a lot of people out there that do not know what Kenya has to offer.

What makes your company different?

We are very well known and we are very efficient. We are time conscious. Everything we do is about excellence. We make sure that from the beginning to the end, the customer is satisfied. On top of that, we run 24/7. You can call us at any time. Anyone that refers us to their friends mentions this. If you want someone who will pick up their phone all the time and change your flight whenever you need, then Pinnacle is the place to go.

What do you offer?

We do conferences, although they are not as popular as they were two or three years ago. We also do team building. Now that the year is coming to an end, there are a lot of companies that do not know where to take their staff. We can organize and also find a facilitator.

Why do you offer affordable travel packages? Do you have an edge in terms of tariff?

There are many Kenyans that would like to go to the Masai Mara. There are people who live in Nairobi that do not know that Mombasa has a beach. I want to offer affordable packages even for the local person. For those that earn very little money, there is now the SGR that only costs 1,000 shillings to Mombasa. You do not have to fly or travel by road if you are afraid. We can make very affordable packages now that can reach the real Kenyans.

Who are your clients?

Most of our target clients are corporate. We also sometimes work with the government, but payment is an issue. Our big clients are JohnsonDiversey which is a multinational, Globeleq, NIC Bank, Equity, TransCentury, Avery East Africa. We also do tickets outside of Kenya such as Rwanda, Tanzania or South Africa.

What is your international reach?

We work with everyone. Sometimes, though, it is more expensive to buy tickets from another country. Before, you could actually sell tickets from where you were sitting for someone somewhere else and it was competitive. But now, because everyone is trying to make money, everyone has their own local arrangements. For those people whose head office is in Nairobi, we can do their tickets.

What awards and recognitions have you won?

We were well recognized, especially a few years ago when business was good. Since the elections in 2017, business has not been as good and the economy is not doing very well. Before then, we were amongst the top 100 and in 2017, we were number 15 out of the 100.

How long have you been in business?

We have been in business since 2004.

What is your vision for the company in the next two to three years’ time?

We want to be recognized not just in Kenya but outside as well. We want to make packages that target not only people who have money but also those people who want to see something different but cannot afford it. We want to offer affordable packages.


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