Located in the Southwest of the Kenyan border is one of Africa’s most famous and essential wilderness areas, the Masai Mara. It is renowned for hosting a large fauna diversity, including the Great Migration, which secured it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and one of the Ten Wonders of the World. The world may know Masai Mara as the home to the lions of ‘Big Cat Diary’, the mighty Masai warriors and the destination to some of the most luxurious safari lodges.
The reserve is named in honour of the Masai people, the ancestral inhabitants of the area, who are also known among the tourists as the ones protecting the travellers and the lodges against the untamed beasts of the wilderness.
What attracts the tourists to this remote wonder is the uniqueness of the reserve, the fact that it is one of the rarest ecosystems on earth that remains unspoilt, with even the lodges and camps built to bring the rough and rugged ambience of the savannah landscape. The reserve is perfect for tourists who love a break from city life and experiencing complete digital cleansing with a true escape from modern life as we know it.
But in a world heavily reliant on technology, this raises the question, is digitalisation completely unviable in the heart of the savannah?
Technology in the savannah: Compatible or not?
Using hospitality technology in wilderness lodges can significantly enhance guest experiences and streamline operations. However, before technology implementation, it is crucial to consider the following factors.
Identifying the needs of the lodges
It is essential to assess the property’s specific requirements, including the guest demand, operational challenges and areas where technology can add value. Understanding the lodge’s size, budget, infrastructure, and other operational needs to find a technology solution that aligns with them is essential. User-friendly systems that can manage reservations, operations and facilitate seamless employee communication should be prioritised.
Finding the right solutions for the savannah
Implementing a navigable Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution can help oversee all operations. Selecting the right solution ensures smooth workflows and uninterrupted operations.
- An on-premises enterprise resource planning system can centralise information, manage reservations, room availability and other front and back-end operations without the need of the cloud. Considering solutions that can handle payments in different types of currencies is a plus.
- In regions like the Masai Mara, on-premises inventory control and supply chain planning assist in managing supplies sourced from outside the Savannah.
- For those not looking for an ERP solution, Property Management Systems (PMS), Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, guest service applications and other management modules could be considered.
- Integrated solutions ensure smooth flow of data between multiple departments, ensuring accuracy and consistency of operations.
Facilities with minimal disruptions
Choosing technology that requires minimal infrastructure is another step in building harmony between technology and the environment.
- Opting for solar-powered initiatives wherever possible to reduce energy consumption and wastage.
- Incorporating design elements that blend with the surroundings, such as natural materials and earthy colours.
- Preparing all stakeholders—the employees of the lodges, guests and the local community—through awareness and education for seamless technology installations, operations, and maintenance.
Responsibly forward: environmental, social and governance
Sustainable adoption of technology is a must when protecting the untouched treasures of the world. All stakeholders must move forward in sync with the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals of operations so that even the most innovative solution will have a minimal environmental impact.
Assessing the environmental impact
Companies, brands and suppliers need to consider the environmental impact of technology when integrating new-age gadgets into an ecosystem. Energy-efficient devices and solutions such as solar powered operations, low-energy appliances and smart power management systems are better options in areas such as the Masai Mara where electricity is not always available.
Establishing social standards
Being sensitive to the local community is essential. Choosing suppliers that value and respect the local culture and ways is essential in establishing the right partners.
Effective and transparent governance
Sustainability efforts need to be transparent. Through partnerships with local communities, hospitality suppliers and brands can create opportunities for skill development, job creation, and cultural preservation. Technology-driven initiatives nurture both environmental conservation and the growth of nearby communities.
Finding the balance
Even in the heart of wilderness, harmonising technology with nature is achievable through collaboration among all stakeholders—hoteliers, guests, employees, local communities, and industry experts. The goal is to evaluate technology’s effectiveness and its impact on a nature reserve.
Hospitality technology integration should aim to preserve the originality of a destination for tomorrow, foster understanding and establish a harmonious coexistence with nature.
Vice President – Marketing
An internationalist with a diverse background in marketing and supply chain management, Tanya currently serves as Vice President, Marketing at IDS Next Business Solutions. Tanya is responsible for all marketing and branding activities within IDS, including development and execution of marketing strategies and plans to help take the company to it’s next level.