Operational strategies used by church guest houses in promoting domestic tourism through conferencing in Nairobi, Kenya
Kwenga, Japhet M.
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The purpose of this study was to establish the operational strategies used by church guesthouses in promoting domestic tourism through conferencing in Nairobi. The study aimed at filling the knowledge gap of the conferencing business in the church guest houses, since most studies have only been carried out in commercial hospitality institutions. Based on modification of Ehrenberg's framework, the study sought to: (1) establish the operational strategies that church guest houses used in promoting domestic tourism through conferencing in Nairobi. (2)Asses the buying criteria and perception of customers of church guest houses (3) Identify the challenges facing conference business in church guest houses, and recommend strategies for business improvement in conference tourism. The study was carried out in Nairobi western region where most of the church guesthouses are located. Purposive and accidental sampling methods were used to carry out the study focusing the respondents with the required information. Structured, non-structured questionnaires and observation checklist were used to collect the data. Qualitative mode of inquiry was the main mode employed in this study though minimal quantitative mode was also used. The data, which was in narrative form, was analyzed through qualitative data analysis technique. The results showed that church guest houses employed a range of operational strategies to promote domestic tourism through conferencing. These strategies included provision of both physical and technical conference facilities, they are located in quiet isolated areas which are ideal for conference activities, have well organized human resource structures, they have also put in place some limited business promotion methods, also they have employment some pro-leisure tourism techniques and have employed various means to finance their businesses. Assessment of the buying criteria and perception of customers in church guest houses revealed that: quiet and isolated locations, good physical and sufficient technical conference facilities, excellent service by qualified staff and fair prices influence the customers into conference business with these guest houses. The results also revealed the challenges and recommended strategies for business improvement in conference tourism. Based on the findings of this study, it is adequate to conclude that operational strategies employed by the church guest houses to promote domestic tourism trough conferencing are effective but need to be restructured and modernized. It is hoped that the findings of the study will provide information on the role played by church guest houses in promoting domestic tourism through conferencing in Nairobi. This is vital to researchers wishing to carry out studies on conferencing industry, especially within church guest house. It will also provide information to policy makers such as Kenya Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC), Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), Ministry of Tourism and other tourism industrial players, so that they recognize church guest houses as a viable sector of the hospitality industry.