Assessment of the Factors Affecting Performance and Management of Banqueting Services in Five-Star Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya.
Maranga, V. N.
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Traditional revenue sources in hotels are threatened by both the reduction in tourist turnover and unexploited domestic market. The sub-optimal performance of banquet services as revenue centres in hotels have, however, been attributed to a combination of factors including inadequate seating capacity, theft, overcrowded venues, insecurity, insufficient equipment, unattractive changes, exodus of customers to lower star hotels and lack of effective management. The objectives of this study were to: - (1.) assess the revenue contribution from banqueting services, (2.) determine factors affecting banqueting services, (3.) identify problems faced by managers in banqueting management, and (4.) determine management operations of banqueting services by 5 star hotels. Data for this study were gathered through, interview schedules, questionnaires, observation checklists and secondary documents from sampled establishments. Both random and purposive sampling procedures were used to identify ninety-eight respondents in Nairobi. Correlation analysis was used to test relationships between variables. The results indicated a significant variations of revenue derived from banquet services, with highest being 68% and lowest 20%. The total revenue generated from banqueting services was Kshs.404, 114,769.00 (million) in the year 2004. Results showed multiple bookings in one day, with corporate clients spending over Ksh. 500,000.00 in one function. There were differences in the number of mean guests attending the banquets between hotels and within hotels (p-value =0.07). A majority of hotels (79%) recruited casual staff with a ratio 2:1 to permanent staff. This reflected a notable dependence on casual staff and yet no established scheme existed for casuals incase of accidents. These findings indicated a worrisome and questionable ability of the casual staff to offer effective and successful service as no formal briefings are given prior to the start of service. Though there is erratic demand for banquets, 64% experienced a large turnover between the months of September and December. A logistic regression was used to assess the relationships between the independent and dependent variable. Results (p-value =12.504) indicated that large turnover of clients is dependant on seasonality. The prices charged (p-value= 9.32) were not proportionate to portion sizes served. Although insecurity has increased due to rising crime rates, hotels have a legal duty to provide "reasonable care" for the protection of guests and staff. Theft (5%) was found to have a very low effect on banqueting performance due to the busy environment of food and beverage and complexity. Although pilferage was found to be minimal at 2%, it was higher in alcoholic beverages than in food. Determinants of optimal revenue include; bargaining power of clients, client loyalty, sufficient capacity and spacious venue. Other factors influencing the service are converting restaurants into banquet halls during the day and the same into restaurants at night. Some hotels tactfully use yield management in low season. The hotel industry needs to diversify and improve banquet products and services, monitor the security of the guests and identify training needs of both the casual and permanent staff. Conclusively, banqueting services are a significant source of revenue as they contributed enormous income to the Hospitality sector.