Locally, it is reported that 37% of travelers search for flights using smartphones, whilst 43% search for accommodation using their smartphones. Tourism is a key sector in Zimbabwe currently raking in at least a billion dollars in forex receipts. Approximately, 90% of all tourist travel is searched online whilst most travel decisions are based on reviews of other travelers. This sets a powerful precedent for the crucial importance of having mobile apps that create convenience so as to bolster growth in the tourist industry.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) partnered with Accoleisure (Pvt) Ltd to come up with the Accoleisure app. The app was released onto the Google Playstore on 29 March 2018 and was officially launched on 10 December 2018. Accoleisure stands for Accommodation & Leisure; the app is available for Android & IOS devices so far. You can download it free of charge from the Google Playstore.
The app is an accommodation & leisure tour guide that provides full contact details of tourism operators or service providers to Zimbabwean local & foreign tourists. The app enables one to do the following:
- Access accommodation listings & compare services
- Access emergency contacts in case of emergencies
- Hire out vehicles for easy travel logistics solutions
- Be up-to-date with entertainment shows happening in Zimbabwe
- Buy tickets to events & live shows
- Explore & choose safari activities
- Search through restaurant listings
I took the liberty to familiarize myself with the app, to see it for myself. Thus, I shall be giving an account of my encounter in navigating through the app.
Visual Design (The User Interface)
First thing I must mention is that the user interface is pristine, it’s so beautifully designed. They integrated the ergonomic & aesthetic aspects so expertly with transition animations that are quite user-friendly.
Simplicity & Ease of Use
You can navigate through the app, finding your way easily. The menus & the options are straightforward & easy to understand. Can one easily & quickly figure out how to use it? Yes! The simplicity & ease of using an app is encapsulated in whether or not one can use it in short quick bursts between tasks. Which in this case is, yes you can, plus the processing speed is quite impressive as you don’t have to wait for too long waiting on a click request to process.
BASIC FEATURES & FUNCTIONS
Once downloaded the app syncs & saves all the data into your mobile device. Thus, the app will work offline, ruling out roaming & data charges.
The app has a pop-up side menu that is rich with key information:
This features important details on entry formalities, Zimbabwe visa requirements, culture, security, customs concession, currency, health requirements, pets, bank hours, public & school holidays, hotels, fire arms, motor vehicles, driving in Zimbabwe, transport & tours, weather, what to pack, electrical appliances, airports & border posts operational hours. There is also a detailed account of health & safety issues, what to pack, how to get around, visa & immigration issues and a distance chart.
There is a built-in link to an online currency converter.
Other information included
Terms & conditions of use of the app are laid out, contact details of Accoleisure, list of their partners and links for purchasing tickets, participating in polls & your account link for the app.
Then there is an on-screen scroll up/down menu with the following features:
When you press on this option, you are presented with a list of natural landscapes & man-made tourist attractions. I did feel, however, that the lists aren’t yet fully comprehensive as there are other attractions that aren’t included. When you press on an attraction, you get its name, mobile contact, email address, web address, location & its brief profile. I also noticed here that not all details were available under each attraction. When you press on the floating (+) button, you get links to view more, chat now, call now, get directions & purchase tickets. Some links are not yet fully functional and I also noticed that for many attractions, prices weren’t readily available. (This, in my opinion, is probably because the app is still in its formative phases).
The lists of activities are categorized as follows: conservation, adrenaline, adventures, family friendly, high wire thrills, game drives & hideouts. When you press on an activity, you get its name, mobile contact, email address, web address, location & its brief profile.
Functions & Events
These are segmented as film premieres, outgoing & parties and shows. This is a great feature which needs to be constantly updated to ensure virtually all current functions & events are included here. I mention this because I noticed that currently not many of them were available here.
Under this section music events are classified as jazz, gospel, dance/electronic, Zim dancehall, Afro-pop, sungura and hip hop. I recommend this classification be broadened plus the section needs to be populated & updated constantly.
Here there is listing of various accommodation options from hotels & lodges to resorts and houseboats in resort towns. Again, I recommend that the section be populated more to include more accommodation options available. Prices must be readily available & up-to-date at all times.
This is a listing of restaurants, pub ‘n grills and coffee shops in resort towns.
Under this section there are travel options for flights, car rentals, taxis, buses/coaches and shuttles
This section is categorized as cricket, soccer, swimming, rugby, golf, boxing & tennis. Currently no listings available and there is need for broadening the categorization.
Here it features contact details of ambulances, road-side assistance, fire brigades and ZRP.
This is undoubtedly a very innovative app for the local tourism industry. Overall, I will give it a 9 out 10 rating & would recommend travellers to download & use it.