marketing communication in the growth of beach hotels in Limbe
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The research study is composed of five chapters. The first chapter deals with introductory part that contains background of the concept, statement of the problem, basic research questions, research objectives, research hypotheses, scope of the study, significance of the study and definition of basic terms. The second chapter includes the literatures relevant to the study. The third chapter discusses research methodology; the fourth chapter is all about data presentation, analysis and interpretation. Finally, the fifth chapter is all about summary, conclusion and recommendation.
Over the years, it has been a well-known for the fact that hotel services are established purposely to providing food, drinks and accommodation services in a relaxed environment that will make the guests feel at home and at a profitable price. As a matter of fact, such organization needs to create awareness about their products and services by adequately informing the target market as well as continually reminding them through every available means of communication (Yusuf, 2012). Therefore, tourists or guests tend to make decision on choosing a hotel facility based on the available information at their disposal. Today, these hotels adopt various marketing communication strategies in order to increase its customer patronage.
Communication revolution started from moveable printing press to renting of Billboards in 1867, marketing was all about shouting out loud to the mass. Communication gets a bit more personalized as marketers gets into the homes of consumers through radio ads, TV ads, phone calls, and Telemarketing. Around 1950s, Marketing Communication was developed and use by business and non-business organizations and till date, it still plays a significant role in today’s world (Kitchen, 1999). In 1973 marketing communications becomes a tad more personalized with the introduction of computers, mobiles phones and most importantly, adoption of 2G internet. Things like Search Engines and Search Engines Optimization open up new avenues for more personalized marketing opportunities, Google introduces Analytics taking marketing communication new level.
In the 1970s pre-digital era, traditional WOMM is simply the occurrence of when a satisfied customer gives the brand on oral or written recommendation. With the difficulties to reach wide range of people, business owners were in need of tangible way of maximizing their profit; in response print communication was utilized for marketing. Due to the fact that print communication are easily ignored, tossed to the side or thrown away, the internet was created, and social media platforms were developed for digital displays. Digital media can refer to an encoding of content that includes changing audio and video input into a digital media format (Shah, 2017).
This evolution has been most rapid since the founding of the digital marketing in 1988 with the evolution of the internet. The commencement of internet marketing takes us back to the 1960s, shortly after that, almost all innovative electronic applications was introduced just about the late 70s (Turban, King, Lee &Viehland, 2004).
Today digital marketing allows brands to focus their efforts on their ideal buyer and build a community around their product or service (Rodrigue, 2018). According to kemp, (2018). The number of internet users in 2018 is 4.021 Billion, up to 7% year by year, meaning there is a massive market on the internet for brands to select their target in a particular area. Online marketing communication covers a wide area and thus promotes an extensive reach of advertising to a broad audience. Marketing communication approach is one of the most significant marketing developments that occurred in the 1990s and the shift towards the approach is continuing as we began a new century (Duncan, 2014). In today’s increasingly capitalist global economic environment, the balance of power in marketing transactions is presumably in favor of customers who are expected to judge and sanction businesses through their purchase preferences. This globally accepted powerful position of the consumer leverages on the famous 21st century Marketing philosophy that “the customer is the king”. By extension, this modern marketing ideology urges every institution to develop product and service offers based on the exigencies of the revenue-driving stakeholders (customers). Marketing Communication is the backbone of businesses to day in the 21st century (Derick, 1992).
The importance of MCs in contemporary business environment has been growing and its impact has been observed in various aspects of organization performance and in meeting various objectives of an organization. It is considered as a key element in creating a firms competitive advantage and hence increases sales and profit while saving time and money. (Naeem et al, 2013). According to Kotler (2006), one of the keys focuses of effective marketing strategies is successful development of MCs tools such as advertising, public relations, sales promotion, personal selling and direct marketing among others to optimize the communications impact on target customers. MCs allows businesses especially tourism enterprises to have access to global markets/audience, by providing new opportunities to export a wider range of goods and services and by improving the internal efficiency within the firms. Marketing communication promotes the business, make it stand out from rivals, attract customers and generate brand awareness. Roughly 6 in 10 customers make their booking choices based on information they find online, to this social media marketing offers a low-cost, high Return on Investment (ROI) opportunity because it can reach much-needed audience. Through effective marketing communication in hotels it can lead to increase in bookings and improve both their overall return on investment and profitability.
According to statistics from the World Tourism Organization (2016), Spain is one of the main tourist destinations in the world. Within Spain the archipelago of the Balearic Islands is the second most important tourist region of the country (after the region of Catalonia), one of the main tourist destinations of reference worldwide, and one of the main poles of tourism related knowledge. In 2018 the Balearic Islands received 16.583 million tourists (of which 13.86 million were international tourists and 2.723 million national tourists), which generated a total of 16,365.3 million euros in revenue (BRAND Tour Project, 2017). The progress success and prospect for growth of Belenaric Island can partly be attributed to the effective utilization of marketing communication techniques tools such as internets to portray the image of the resort in the form of adverts and promotion to the world at large.
Marketing communication has been used and it is still been used in beach hotels and resorts in Europe and many part of the world. For instance, in Mediterranean Island and the Atlantic coasts, marketing communication has been used in beach hotels such as the Balearic Island, the Canary Island and the Malta Island ( Christie et al, 2021) just to name a few. In the Mediterranean island of Malta, marketing communication has been use by the Iya beach hotels and resorts in La Valetta. Malta Island which is located at the beach offers a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea. In regard to the communication campaign objectives of Iya beach hotels and resorts, their touristic objectives are set at three different levels namely: corporate communication and marketing, the primary marketing objectives and most importantly, marketing communication objectives (Fill & Jamieson, 2011).
To add to the above, the adoption and usage of marketing communication in the marketing campaign objectives of Iya beach hotels and resorts helps to maximize profit from its hotels operations. The marketing communication established Iya as a premium hotel group in the Island of Malta and it therefore stands out from other luxurious five star hotels in terms of delivering values. All these achievements of Iya beach hotels amongst others were done through the spread of awareness among all targeted customers segment, consumer education, and consumer motivation through its websites (Kennaugh&Cindym 2013).
To add, in North America particularly in the United Mexican States with the construction of Federal Route 95 México city-Acapulco the wealthiest inhabitants invested in building hotels. The Mexican Government, in comparison with other western nations in the development of touristic sites and hotels, transformed and occupied the coastal area of the Acapulco Bay in what is now called Acapulco Dorado. The Mexican Government developed the Hotel Pierre Marques at the Revolcadero beach, a property of oil tanker Paul Getty (Carr, 2010).
The socio-economic dream of the Mexican Government to make economic progress in hotels developed in comparison with American and other European nations was only realize through the use of effective marketing communication in projecting the image of their hotels. The Acapulco brand remains in the minds of citizens of Mexico and other countries, even though there are other destinations that sell and promoted sea, sand, and sun (Bergeret-Muñoz et al, 2014). Currently the destination is on a critical route, sometimes it arises, even when there is a strong competition with other sophisticated beach destinations there is always an increase in touristic activities. The beauty of Acapulco, the warm waters of the sea and its orography that allows the spectator (tourists) to have a view of the landscape, continue to affect the national market positively, creating fantasies, imaginings, seductions and keep looking for the hedonic, without forgetting that Acapulco is one of closest tourist destinations of the Valley of Mexico and other priority cities, of the centre of Mexico.
Over the years, the hospitality sector in Cameroon has spread over the country and now a ready market unlike before due to the increasing knowledge of the population about the services rendered. Not only has been a ready market but it has embraced the different marketing communication techniques which are advertisement, sales promotion, digital marketing. Today, Cameroon has many hospitality industry competing for growth in their sales and marketing share superiority they include; Hilton hotel, Mount Febe, Mountain hotel, Hotel seme beach, Atlantic Beach Hotel, Hotel Elabe Marine, Grand Thornton. With this mix, these organizations must have highly specialized marketing communication strategies that gives them better growth and that also gives each of their products a competitive advantage. This study relates to the impact of marketing communication in the growth(in sales volume, profitability, revenue and size) of selected beach hotels in limbe.
The trading environment in Cameroon, as is the case globally, has changed dramatically in recent years (Dewa, 2014). There has been a significant economic and social change in the cities, towns or rural areas which altered the ability, perception and behavior of customers as regards hotel services. The needs and desires of the customers have changed in various ways and so has the consumption of products varied from customer’s service and product quality.
Clearly, beach hotels in limbe has employed various marketing communication strategies as follows, branding, advertising, sales promotion and others. Within the Limbe City which is our case study, marketing communication has been made used of in many of its beach hotels with the aim of enhancing the image of the hotels. But however, Wunnava and Leiter (2008) note that the rate of adoption and usage of marketing communications in Limbe beach hotels among which we have Fini hotel, Musango Beach Hotel, and Atlantic Beach Hotels has been very slow. This can be attributed to the following challenges: insufficient technological awareness, and scarce resources. The same scenario is common with other tourism enterprises in Limbe not only limited to beach hotels as they faced enormous challenges in the adoption of effective marketing communication to enhance the growth of their enterprise.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
Limbe municipality 1 and II is endowed with rich natural resources with good prospects of developing the economy and generate revenue with increase of tourist, but this is not the situation on the ground. If this resources are well exploited it will attract more tourist who will eventually need accommodation by so doing affect the growth of the hotel. It has been noted that the hospitality industry is one of the fast-growing service industry in the world. This justifies the high level of competition existing among the stakeholders involved (Lockhart and Drakakis-Smith, 1997). The level of competitions within the hotel industry has increased so much in the recent decades, to the point that it poses a threat not only to new and old hotels. This has led to very slow rate of hotelier in Limbe I and II municipality as compare Douala and Kribi.
This low growth rate could be as a result of: The state of the hotel’s infrastructures, the absence of promotional activities like seasonal promotion, and the hosting of special events(sporting activities, kids play area), adventure activities fishing trips, scuba diving, amenities like fitness centre, shuttle, these go a long way to make the customer stay enjoyable, limited financial and human resources because of too much dependence on visitors (tourists), the adverse effects of the Anglophone crises which limit the visit of tourist and Covid-19 on the activities of Beach hotels in Limbe. For instance, the Limbe beach hotels are located in Fako division, in south west region of Cameroon which is at the heart of the Anglophone crises.
This problem is further justified by the narrow specialization of advertising techniques like short videos, stories and live videos, chat bots and location of the beach hotels, poor management and lack of awareness and insufficient trained experts.
These challenges are making it extremely difficult for beach hotels in Limbe to effectively use marketing channels in their organization. If these lapses are not solved, it will have negative consequences to the beach hotels in Limbe such as: it will lead to economic backwardness, slow development in the country, slow the e-commerce activities operations management leading to poor customer satisfaction in tourism services rendered by beach hotels in Limbe, poor training and development, ineffective use of an online platform for selection and recruitment leading to inefficiency of workers (Piabuo, Piendiah, Njamnshi&Tieguhong 2017).
One way through which hotels can effectively combat these short comings and competition is through marketing communication (MC). Unfortunately, these beach hotels are not using marketing communication to their advantage. It’s as a result of that this study to develop a frame work through which the growth of beach hotels can be assessing using marketing communication. Furthermore, there is little research on marketing communication. A previous study by Etoundiet al (2016) focused only on “Challenges and Perspectives of Developing a Digital Economy in Cameroon:” but did not address the state of marketing communication adoption in Limbe which the current study hopes to fill. Other studies like that of Ndille& Belle (2014) focused on “Managing the Limbe Floods” but did not delve into the effect of marketing communication to the growth of beach hotels in limbe. It is only recently that the attention of researchers has been drawn to the issues of E-Marketing in the tourism and hospitality enterprises. Few studies such as: Truong &Bhuiyan, (2009) have identified the Determinants of E-Marketing Adoption by Small and Medium Enterprises in African Countries. No studies have worked on the effect of marketing communication on beach hotels in Limbe.
1.4 Research Questions
The research questions are subdivided into general and specific research questions.
1.4.1 General Question
What are the Values of marketing communication in the growth of selected beach hotels in Limbe?
1.4.2 Specific Questions
- What is marketing communication in the management of selected beach hotels in Limbe?
- What are the positive impacts of marketing communication activities on the growth of selected beach hotels in Limbe?
- Are there problems faced by Beach hotels Limbe in carrying out marketing communications?
- Are there any policy recommendations to be made in the marketing communication of Beach hotels in Limbe in order to enhance their growth?