The Simple Things Hotels in Ghana Are Getting Wrong and How They Can Get Their Act Together.
The view outside my room at Busua Beach Hotel is calming. I can see the broiling sea waves a chalet away, look transfixed at the green grass on the lawn and gaze contentedly at the coconut tree hoping one fruit would fall. I can do all this calmly whilst waiting for the hotel reception to send me the WiFi details for my room. Its been 45 minutes now. A second call to enquire again led to another, ‘Please I will call you back. They just brought the list.’ I wish I were on holiday whereby WiFi would be the least of my problems but no, this is a business trip so WiFi is at the top of my list on ‘Things To Have Whilst In A Hotel On A Business Trip’ ( a list I just mentally created).
What is happening to the hotel industry in Ghana? I may not be a Hospitality graduate but I have lots of clues and ideas on what the hotels aren’t paying attention to when it comes to their guests and their needs. Guests like myself. They are getting so many things wrong in their service delivery and its been going for years now and it’s a shame that nothing or very little has changed with regards to any solutions to these mishaps if i may call them that.
1. Inexperienced hotel staff or staff who just don’t care about guests
I took time out and visited the much acclaimed newest hotel in Takoradi; Best Western Plus Atlantic Hotel just this weekend to have a change in scenery and environment. Amazing structure I had to say; beautiful spacious surroundings with a blend of African and Western artworks. After spending an hour at the terrace with zero waiter attendance (oh wait! A waiter came to collect my menu which I had picked up from the bar just to go give to new arriving guests to the terrace bar) I left to find lunch as it didn’t look like I was going to get anyone to feed me and take my money whilst doing it. A friend had called earlier and when I disclosed my location he asked me to get the hotel rates for couples for him. I walked to the reception desk to get the rates. Two smartly dressed ladies stood behind the giant counter. This was how the conversation went.
Me: ‘Hi please can I get your rates?’
Receptionist 1: ‘Our rates?’
Me: ‘Yes for two.’
Receptionist 2: Do you mean our honeymoon package?’
I paused. ‘Yes for honeymoon.’ (Of course she checked my ring finger)
Receptionist 2: ‘Oh ok. Let me check for you.’
The two receptionist start rummaging through their desks and opening layers of brown envelopes. I stood there patiently and stared at the golden yellow apples and pastries on the counter wondering if they were free for all.
Receptionist 1: ‘Madam, please fill this form.’
I shook myself out of my reverie and stared at the white form which looked more like a feedback form. ‘I just want the rates.’
Receptionist 1: ‘Yes. You fill it, they will call you on Monday and give you the rates so that you can discuss with them on it.’
I shook my head slightly at the irrelevant form and filled it. As I filled it, Receptionist 1 calls someone and speaks in Twi asking Mr. Nobody where the rates were. ‘Its on the system?’asks Receptionist 1 and she starts typing something on the keyboard. I was done with my form. I handed it back to her and she assured me I would be called. I did my best to smile and walked out. As I write this its 6:28pm Monday 18th August and no one has called me. And I doubt anyone will.
What was wrong with this picture? Poorly trained hotel staff and lack of communication. How can this be corrected?
- Hotel rates should be easily seen by any potential guests coming into the hotel. This can be easily typed out and laminated into a flyer or brochure. Or a wooden mount with wooden slots having the prices inscribed or pasted on them since the dollar rate keeps sliding up and down. I don’t know how many stars Atlantic hotel has but these are the little things that drives people away to hotels who don’t boast of many stars but are doing the right thing.
- Training of hotel staff is a basic requirement of any hospitality service delivery company. Or is that now obsolete? The receptionist just showed total ignorance of how the system works and their attitude was a display of having not being trained on what the computers were there for.
2. Inattentiveness to Rising Health Issues
There is a cholera epidemic in Ghana, maybe more densely located in Accra thanks to overpopulation. I have used three washrooms in three different hotels in the past one week and all did not have toilet seat sanitizers. Actually I think its only my workplace where I have seen toilet seat sanitisers installed and used. Even in the face of the Ebola crisis, I am yet to see any signage or fully installed hand sanitizers at key areas in the hotels. I noticed a tiny hand sanitizer at the reception of Busua today. Hotels are areas where travellers from around the world stay overnight on business trips or for longer periods during holidays. You would have thought they would be more proactive on health issues.
Advice to hoteliers (free)
- Create signage at key areas where hand sanitizers have been placed to remind people to use them. A tiny bottle can easily escape anyone’s eye.
- Invest in mounted hand sanitizer dispensers which are more visible.
- Toilet seat sanitizers or sanitizing seat wipes are easily available on the market. Please get some.
3. WiFi is a NEED for Business Travellers not a WANT. Don’t be Chisel with it.
21st Century Ghana and we are living like 20th Century where having a mobile phone or internet was a luxury. Hotels in Ghana act like WiFi is a luxury when really it isn’t. Aside La Villa Boutique in Osu, I don’t know of any hotel which provides free WiFi. Its 6:57pm and I am still waiting for my WiFi details which I called for two hours ago. Now I feel like I have to beg for WiFi for my own room. The hotel staff act very protective when it comes to their WiFi. Sad.
There’s always a solution:
- Once a guest checks-in provide all the necessary details including WiFi log-in details before they get to their rooms. This way you wont inconvenience the guest having to call reception repeatedly asking for connection details.
- Lounge internet access can be given to prospective guests who use hotel lounges for their meetings. For example an hour free access wont let the hotel go bankrupt. It will rather remind the users of this service and when someone needs a referral to a hotel, guess which one gets mentioned? Word of mouth referrals is being underestimated by hotels.
These and many more things are going wrong with hotels in this country. Our tourism industry needs resurrecting and restructuring and I guess I was even more mortified when @Kwabena sent me this photo. Probably explains a lot.
Its 7:11pm and I still haven’t received my WiFi details and no one has called to give me feedback. I might as well make a cup of coffee and stare at the phone.
Is there any hotel in Ghana which you have stayed in and can recommend for excellent customer service with free WiFi and other praise-worthy services. What solutions do you think our hotels need to revive themselves from the complacent slumber they are currently in? What is HAPPENING to our service industry???