A study conducted by GN Research in Ghana’s capital city, Accra has revealed 81 percent of hotels do not have a website or up-to- date one as well as an active facebook account for review by both domestic and foreign travelers.
The research conducted over a period of almost two (2) months revealed that, out of a total of almost 500 hotels located in the Greater Accra region, only 93 have functional websites, of which 51 hotels regularly update them. 84 hotels also have facebook accounts but more than 50% are dormant.
Only 20 out of a total of 284 budget hotels also have websites but more than half do not update them. Only 20 of these also have facebook accounts, of which 11 are dormant.
The situation for guest houses is no different as just a little above 20% of the 54 engaged have websites but about 80 percent regularly update them. About 28% have facebook accounts, of which over 50% are however dormant.
With 1-star hotels, only 27% out a total of 84 have websites but less than 10% regularly update them. Only 18% in this category also have facebook accounts with less than 5% keeping them active.
Nevertheless, almost all 3 to five 5-star hotels in Accra have regularly updated websites and Facebook accounts. This includes Kempinski, Labadi Beach, Mövenpick Ambassador, Fiesta Royale, La Palm Royal, Novotel, Alisa, M Plaza, Oak Plaza, the African Regent and the Royal Richester Hotels.
Some 57% of 2-star hotels located in Greater Accra region have websites but only 36% regularly update them to meet the needs of travelers. 47% of hotels in this category have facebook accounts, of which more than 60% actively engage prospective clients on their page.
These also include Coconut Grove Regency, African Royal Beach, Airport View, Airport West and Maxlot Hotels.
The hotels without websites (generally Ghanaian-owned) site the excuse of being interested in only domestic clients and/or their facilities remotely cited from the airport and therefore unnecessary to run a website.
Only a few renowned hotels (predominantly with international partners) are thus currently benefiting from the increase in international tourist arrivals in the country. In 2014, Ghana recorded the highest growth in traveler numbers – 37% from neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, 30% from Italy and 29% from the Scandinavian countries.
In an interview with JOY BUSINESS, the Head of GN Research, Samuel Kofi Ampah explained the current situation where most hotels have no website could therefore affect the potential growth of Ghana’s tourism and hospitality industry as well as investor confidence in the economy.
“The advent of internet technology has proved useful in the hospitality industry across the world. Consumers have increasingly been using the Internet to search for accommodation-related information on hotel websites,” Mr. Ampah said.
“An investor might come in with a budget and if he/she is unable to have first-hand access to relevant information on hotel accommodation and location to help him decide how many days he could spend in the country, it does not promote whatever growth agenda for the industry and the country at large. It is against this backdrop, GN Research sought to understand the importance of establishing a content-rich and user-friendly websites by Ghanaian hotel industry players with this study” he added.
Online reputation is currently regarded a major driver for hotel performance in many advanced and emerging economies. Most travelers use online sources to take decisions on hotels they may want to lodge in rather than the usual recommendations from friends and work colleagues which later turn out to be a wrong choice.
A vibrant hospitality industry is generally said to impact directly on the development of any economy, by creating jobs and generating foreign exchange and tax revenue for the government.
According to Mr. Ampah, the Ghana Tourism Authority must thus as a matter of urgency move to ensure that hotel facilities in the country necessarily establish websites and regularly update them on their operations.
“We have done this research to show the Tourism Authority that we still have a long way to go if we want to promote tourism in the country. The authority’s mandate is to promote tourism which requires making checks easier for tourists and investors. It therefore only needs to engage the hospitality industry players to impress on them the need to incorporate this international best practice in their operations for maximum benefits to their operations and the economy as a whole,” he concluded