Tourism and hospitality players could benefit from a new online platform that allows visitors to share their travel experiences while sector players can use it to market their holiday packages.
The social network platform, created by Ugandan techpreneurs, was launched in the Rwandan market last week, after a similar event in Kenya.
The platform known as deiplaces.com allows members to create accounts where they can share their travel experiences around Africa.
“Across the globe, African representation is currently minimal,” said Paul Bamutaze, the business development manager of Deitechnologies International ltd, the company behind the platform.
“Most of the online travel platforms are western world-centric,” he added during the product launch.
The web-based platform works like Trip Advisor but focuses more on social networking. Members connect with fellow travel enthusiasts and share about their experiences by creating what is known on the site as “places.”
The places can be anywhere a person is at a given time such as a school, hotel, business, clinic or restaurant.
“Through this platform, Rwandans can market their country by talking about different places worth visiting,” said Dr Bamutaze, adding that national parks, towns could use the site to give potential visitors detailed information.
Despite the intention to market African cultures and attractions, some players wanted to know the difference between deiplaces.com and other existing social networking sites.
The tech entrepreneurs said dieplaces.com allows users to create places.
“The platform purely promotes tourism in Africa as a whole through its business and tourism concepts,” said Moses Matovu, the product manager.
One of the benefits for platform users is the opportunity to access fast and detailed information about events, places, services, prices, and people.
Many local hospitality firms have an online presence, but experts say they are not using the Internet effectively to connect with travellers and provide enough information that would attract visitors.
Content on the platform includes videos, pictures and text, while visitors can rate the places they visit.
“As you create places on the platform, you are also able to stay connected with friends and can plan different events on the platform,” said Mr Matovu.
The tech company hopes to make the platform appealing to Africans, but it will have a huge task to increase its user base. It claims to have about 5,000 users, but this has not been independently verified.
Dr Bamutare told Rwanda Today that they are mostly targeting university students across Africa to promote their countries.