Mass customisation as a business strategy for five star hotels in Nairobi, Kenya
Khayiya, Rosemarie Ayuma
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Mass production as a paradigm of marketing management has dominated the world industrial production. Competition and changing consumer tastes and preferences show that, mass production is not enough to keep businesses going. Companies are shifting from the paradigm of mass production to mass customisation. The purpose of the study, therefore, was to establish the suitability of mass customisation as a business strategy for five star hotels in Nairobi, Kenya. To achieve this, the study sought to: find out the level of awareness of the mass customisation concept among five star hotels; establish customers' attitudes on the utilisation of mass customisation; identify factors which enhance or retard the application of mass customisation and determine factors that influence the length of stay and reasons for visiting the five star hotels. The study used a descriptive survey design. The target population were all the fourteen five star hotels in Kenya. The study limited itself to Nairobi. Three questionnaires and interview schedule were used to collect the data. Socio-demographic data was analysed by use of percentages and frequencies. Relationships between independent and dependent variables were analysed using cross tabulations and Chi-square tests. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine the best predictor variables for length of stay and reasons for visiting the surveyed five star hotels. This study established that there was a difference in the levels of awareness of the concept of mass customisation among the surveyed five star hotels, with some hotels being more aware of the concept than others. Findings of the study also revealed that mass customisation aspects varied on the degree to which they influenced the length of stay and reason for visiting the five star hotels. Though all the variables considered did contribute to length of stay and reasons for visiting the five star hotels, not all were significant on Chi-square analysis. Some of those factors which were insignificant under Chi-square tests were found to be significant in the multiple regression models. Additionally, controlling specific variables not only made tea/coffee making facilities and healthy eating options critical predictors of the reason for visiting the hotels, but they also made significant contributions to the model. This research also established that hotels were not flexible enough to accommodate customer requests not normally provided for. Finally, findings showed the awareness levels of mass customisation varied across hotels and customers were not allowed to input in the design of products, implying that hotels were insensitive to customer requirements. Mass customisation is also not yet fully conceptualised by most of the five star hotels, and most hotels have not internalised the basic tenets. Based on findings, it was recommended that: hotels involve customers in the design of products to ensure tailoring of products to customer needs; due to the fact that customers are diverse in their needs, it is practically impossible to have all the necessary facilities and expertise to meet these needs, which then calls for outsourcing and/or consultancy; the hotels need to be flexible and dynamic to adapt to an ever changing environment.