By Josephine Wawira
The hotel industry is characterized by seasonality, which plays a major role in determining customer behavior. Seasons are categorized as Low, Green, and High/Peak, with each associated with different expectations and demands. They result to variation in tourists’ arrivals both domestic and foreign to destinations ranging from beaches, safaris, parks, just to mention but these.
The highest season (usually during the festive period like December for most regions), attracts more tourists than other seasons, and its recurrence has resulted to perpetual trends in the hotel industry. Yet, while one would expect that industry players have adapted to the pattern over time, others still find themselves caught up in the cross road of meeting the high tourist demands, and providing high quality and personalized services.
It is therefore essential for hotel owners to understand the seasonality of the regions they operate in, so that they can run their operations efficiently by for instance upgrading their infrastructure and facilities well in advance. Daniel Makau, the E-Commerce Manager of Sentrim Hotels Kenya, sites provision of weekly and weekend promotional rates/packages, creation of demand through added value, as well as provision of customer loyalty programs as some of the best practices for hotels during the high seasons.
Sentrim Hotels and Lodges boasts of various properties across Kenya, offering accommodation in destinations such as the coastal area of Mombasa, Masai Mara, Amboseli, Tsavo, Elementaita, Samburu, and the capital city of Nairobi. The properties range from hotels to lodges and camps, providing diverse options for vacationers. “Our diversity has also gone a long way in encouraging domestic tourism through increased awareness of Kenya’s most attractive destinations, most of which we have strived to pitch tent. We are experiencing increased bookings from both domestic and foreign, repeat and new visitors especially this festive season; and expect the upward trend to continue in the coming year,” Daniel further says.
However, the high season excitement is not without a set of budding challenges, which he attributes to varying reasons “especially a last-minute booking culture among most travelers. We also have short-stays guests or on transit particularly in the city hotels. Thus, to maintain full occupancy rate, we always ensure guests have best customer experience for positive reviews, referrals, and customer retention.”
Going forward, hotels can maximize on all seasons and especially the festive/high season by adapting various strategies such as the provision of last minute deals. Simplifying same day bookings by for instance ridding credit card and complicated guest requirements as well as provision of non-refundable special deals – Bed Only, can also help retain a full occupancy rate.
To achieve this, hotels are encouraged to embrace digitalization as a vital part of improving revenue generation in all seasons. For instance, hotels collaborating with Jumia Travel should incorporate its technological tools including the extranet App for both mobile and web, to give managers more flexibility and independence in running the business.