How has a single, vague idea following a chance meet up, translated into a curated, experiential, burgeoning travel behemoth?
Turnup.Travel is not here by chance or a stroke of luck. It’s been working hard over the past two years here to fulfil a need and provide a solution: how do we cater to this massive pool of young people in Kenya who view travel as a necessity – not a luxury, while seeking out immersive travel experiences.
Turnup.Travel understands that we’re really not interested in being bogged down by the hassle and detail of planning – we just want to GO and make some great memories.
Muthuri Kinyamu is one of its founders, and explains how the concept of Turnup.Travel came about:
Not one event led to this but a series of interactions with travellers and industry leaders. In 2016, the Kenya Tourism Board sent out a call for applications for content creators to submit a proposal to manage their social media channels… I put a team together and did a proposal and we got selected for the 3 month campaign which took us to Mara, Amboseli, Diani, Kilifi, Kisumu, Tsavo West and towards the end – Mombasa for a weekend at Voyager Beach Resort when Chris Brown was in town. That’s the weekend I met my roommate and now co-founder – Brian Gatimu…
The trip resulted in conversation – about challenges, how to package experiences for millennials and a potential future in the business. The team now comprises of Brian Gatimu and Head of Content Mike Njeru. But they are always looking to partner up, and gain inspiration from their friends or networks on social media:
We always prefer to see new places from the eyes of locals and onboard like-minded friends to help us organize trips. @Owaahh proposed the Last Ride in the Lunatic Express, and shared the History of architecture during Nairobae IG Tour, Jammy of ‘Life In Mombasa’ helped us put together Mombasa Instagram Tour, Swahili Gal curated ‘Island Invasion’ in Lamu during the annual cultural festival. The recent Iten IG Tour was actually an idea of Michelle Katami and Naomi Mutua who helped us put together the trip and onboard the partners…
So how do young Kenyans travel? Is it markedly different from how it used to be, and is money our number one consideration?
Contrary to what many think, price comes second to service as a priority for Kenyans when they travel. A social media post about a holiday by a friend could trigger a potential traveller to research more about a destination on YouTube, look up reviews, search Instagram hashtags, find hotel deals through an online travel agent and finally a booking.
And brands seem to be increasingly more willing to put their money into what had perhaps been considered too risky a venture:
In 2017 alone, Turnup Travel has been the official travel partner for Diner En Blanc, Lamu Cultural Festival, Rusinga Festival and Diani Beach Festival by teaming up with other partners. 2017 was certainly our first big year as we quickly reacted to sophisticated demands from our clients, spotted opportunities fast and engaged our partners in unique ways. We also got to do some work and collaborated with big brands like Nivea, Safaricom, Tecno Mobile, Tusker, Sportpesa, Pernod Ricard, Peperuka, Renault, Diani Reef, Skyward Express and new entrants like Silverstone Air for their route to market and launch new routes. Corporates are starting to understand that travel is a huge touch point for millennials, value immersive content as we move from product-centric to customer-centric campaigns, and are embracing revolutionary changes in buyer behaviour by tapping into their lifestyle.
Muthuri’s top 5 local destinations?
Life, just like your bucket list, is like a sandwich so let’s stuff it up with the best ingredients.
1. Tsavo West
2. Turkana – origin of mankind. Welcome back home! Also drive up to Moyale 😊
3. Takawiri Island (This is the Diani of Western Kenya so please take my word for it)
4. North Rift Circuit – Iten, Kerio and Baringo (it’s curvy and beautiful)
5. Lamu – Shela is charming and then there’s so much tranquillity in Kipungani.
If I had the lowest budget, what would you recommend? (Locally)
Be spontaneous (over-planning stalls things) – you can do short and action-packed weekend getaways rather than the long vacations and the typical end of the year holiday.
1. Do self-catering apartments
2. Travel off peak – instead of April, August and usual December.
3. Stay in KWS bandas and camping in our premium parks.
4. Instead of brunch in a 5 star with friends, why not carpool and go to Kajiado for example? Drive down to the geothermal spa? Go to Machakos for lunch? Do bird watching etc or go catch the sunset somewhere – often the best things in life are free 😊
And what if money is no object? (Locally)
I often travel for the views so I’d probably go back to Finch Hattons where you can see the sunrise on one side, Kilimanjaro and Chyullu hills dotting the horizon on the other side. Tsavo West is my favourite park.
Ol Jogi in Laikipia. It’s $ 210,000 per week for 14 people so perhaps for a birthday plan?
Elsa’s Kopje in Meru
Sleep under the stars at Loisaba in Laikipia
Mara Engai – I just want to go on a game drive in their safari vehicles.
Can someone fly me to Samburu, Sasaab and pick me up from Mt. Ololokwe?
This is the year I take on a hot air balloon ride in Mara and Skydive in Diani.
Turnup Travel recently held its second ‘Nairobae Instagram Tour’ with support from Artcaffe, Four Points Sheraton – JKIA, Point Zero Coffee, Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey, Peperuka, Redbull and a host of other sponsors.
Check out the highlights!
All images courtesy: Turnup.Travel.