Determinants of selection of non-classified hotels by business guests in Mtwapa town, Kilifi County, Kenya
Kivuva, Alex K.
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Non-classified hotels which comprise small hotels and guest houses are important accommodation providers as they offer limited services and products as compared to the classified hotels. Through guest satisfaction they can achieve repeat business and also get new business through word of mouth from previous guests. If they do not provide quality accommodation product and guest satisfaction, then they must be ready to suffer low occupancy levels. The challenge is for the hoteliers to know exactly the determinants of selection of hotels by business guests. This study aimed to establish the determinants of hotel selection by business guests, the level of guest satisfaction with the hotel products provided and their future expectations concerning the hotel products. The research is beneficial to hoteliers in gaining a greater understanding of the determinants which influence the selection of hotels by business guests. The study site was Mtwapa town in Kilifi County (Kenya). This location was chosen because of its popularity with both international and domestic travelers. The study focused on the non-classified hotels in this area which at the time of data collection numbered to twenty five. Out of this number, three were used for pretesting and out of the remaining twenty two, fifteen were examined. Random sampling was used to select the fifteen hotels which were included in the study. Out of the fifteen hotels selected, twenty guests from each hotel were selected systematically and included in the study. This added up to 300 respondents. The study adopted a cross-sectional descriptive survey design. Guest hotel selection and satisfaction was the dependent variable while the independent variables were location of the hotel, prices, core product provided, consistency of product, customer service, strategic control and hygiene and quality. Primary data collection was done by use of a structured questionnaire which the researcher administered to business guests. Data analysis was done by use of SPSS version 10. This was done quantitatively using t-test, Pearson correlation and multiple regression. Presentation of the analyzed data was done in form of graphs, histograms, pie charts among others. The findings indicated that business guests were dissatisfied with the hotel products provided by non-classified hotels in Mtwapa town. Such issues as cleanliness, staff professionalism, speed of guest service, recognition of returning guests among others had low satisfaction levels. For instance, 97.9% of the respondents were not satisfied with recognition on their return visits. About 95.7% of the respondents were also not satisfied with the speed of service offered to them in various service outlets. It was also found out that guests look at various attributes of the hotel product before they make their choices. They look at such issues as accessibility and location of the hotel, that is, whether it is easily reachable. About 86.2% of the respondents said this was a strongly important consideration. Guests also looked at cleanliness of the hotel, through past experience and/or through word-of-mouth from friends and relatives. About 71.6% of the respondents pointed out that this was a very important consideration. Other important elements considered by business guests included room security (74.1%), staff professionalism (37.6%), restaurant services, and conference services among others. The outstanding determinant was found to be guest room comfortability (94.6%) while the least important was availability of business services (10.2%). The study recommends that hoteliers should strive to provide quality accommodation product to meet guests‟ future expectations of improved cleanliness and hygiene, room facilities, staff performance, restaurant services among others.