Research Key

The Assessment of Buffet Services of Hotels in the Limbe Resort Town

Project Details

Tourism and Hospitability Management 
Project ID
International: $20
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Analytical tool
 MS Word & PDF

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1.1 Background to the Study

Buffets are a form of meal service where guests typically pick and self-serve food in an all-you-can-eat manner. Buffet-style meal serving is a very popular method of serving food in the hospitality industry and an important part of the service quality in hotels (Merrilees, and Herington 2007).

Buffets typically contain one or several stations with a variety of dishes completing a full meal course; typically starters, main courses, deserts, salads, cheeses, and fruits. Buffet-style meals increase hotel performance directly through guests’ spending (Tanford and Suh 2011) and indirectly through higher guest satisfaction and reduced service staff costs.

Buffets allow easier and quicker meal service and offer guests choices (Cohen and Avieli 2004). Such self-controlled serving influences guests’ expectations and leads to higher levels of satisfaction with the hotel service (Merrilees, and Herington, 2007).

Breakfast buffets are one of the most important factors that contribute to a guest’s decision to book a room at a particular hotel. Major hotel chains seeking to remain competitive nearly universally offer them, partially out of fear that their absence is more notable than their presence.

As a result, guests have grown accustomed to daily smorgasbords that include colorful platters of fruit, sizzling waffle irons and the wafting aroma of freshly crisped bacon.

McCleary and Wearer (1992) indicated that good service is defined on the basis of identification of measurement behaviours that are important to customers. Zemka and Albertcht (1995) suggested that quality service plays an important role in defining a restaurant’s competitive strategies and identified systems and strategies for managing service.

Quality constitutes a complex and multidimensional term particularly in relation to the area of service provision (Tzorakoleetherakis, 1999). When quality is used in relation to service, it mean series of actions that takes place for the sake of the customer with the aim of satisfying needs and is used by the customers almost simultaneously with their production and offer (Chitiris, 1991).

Quality of food has a positive influence on customer satisfaction; study finding suggested that food quality was the most influential predictor of customer loyalty in restaurant or hotel choice.

Mattila (2001) indicated that the top three reasons for customers to patronize their target restaurants or hotels in the casual dining sector were food quality, service and atmospheric environment. Specifically, food quality was the most important attribute of overall restaurant service quality and is expected to have a positive relationship with customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Tourists consume more food than at home and eat more imported food than at home (Gössling 2015), thus increasing the tourism-related environmental impact on the destinations (Hunter and Shaw 2007).

Given that food consumption is a key tourist experience, it is likely that tourists try different kinds of food and do not like some of them. This leads to more food being wasted than at home. It is currently not known, however, which fraction of the hospitality-generated food waste is caused by tourism.

One reason for this information not being available is that tourism related food consumption and its environmental implications have not been extensively researched to date (Gössling and Peeters, 2015).

Higher demand for food and increased plate waste negatively impact the environment. More food needs to be produced, transported, stored, and processed. Producing 1 kilo of vegetables, for example, causes between 0.036 (carrots) and 28.5 (tomatoes) kilos of CO2e.

Transportation adds between 0.015 (tomatoes) and 0.725 (grapes) kilos of CO2e (Gössling, 2011). These figures increase as food is prepared and then disposed into landfill, where food waste releases various greenhouse gases, including methane, which is 25 times more harmful than CO2 (EPA 2016) and one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector” (UNEP 2013).

Other environmental impacts of food demand in tourism include water and land use. Negative social impacts of providing buffet-style meal service include food obesity and overconsumption (Kuo and Shih 2016).

In Europe, hotel industry is a segment that feeds about 85% of tourism in Europe. The industry has grown by 3.5% annually over the last 7 years, with an increase in average spending per customer of more than 2%, according to Oriol Peña, Head of Operations at HI Partners.

According to the travel professionals gathered at the October edition of the Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum, the geopolitical situation of the Mediterranean area has greatly distorted the implicit growth in the demand for hotels, with the greatest increases being concentrated mainly in Spain and, to a lesser extent, in Greece to the detriment of destinations such as Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia. Oriol Peña said:

“The hotel industry was underdeveloped in terms of strategy and positioning, focusing on a general offer centered in the first place on multi segment customers, with a very standard range of complementary services and in properties with large stocks of rooms (Meas, 2014).

This trend is changing and in recent years, the offer started to fragment in search of specialization, both in the provision of services such as buffet services. He explained that this happens because there is a great demand for niche products with a profitability up to 175% higher than regular products.

For example, in Europe, food and wellness resorts are expected to grow 50% above the rest of standard products in the coming years. Another example is the inclusion of Villas and Branded Residences within more premium products, which is allowing optimizing the room inventory achieving much higher (Wat, 2003).

Compared to other types of catering services, the ability of the hotel industry to generate additional income (food, and beverages) is very high. In some cases, they can account for 65% to 70%, which in terms of total revenue per year implies a clear advantage to this type of products compared to lifestyle or family products outside the resorts sector, whose sales are much more linked to the rooms (at least 60% to 65% of them). 

Oriol (2014) states that currently, hotel industry in Europe is facing a transformation process in order to get adapted to new products, services, and distribution trends. These trends are generated by a changing base of clients that continues in growth by providing services in varieties and diversity in food services.

Regarding the brands and operators, it is also a rather fragmented sector, especially in Spain, where international brands coexist with domestic brands of global presence, as well as local and private label operators whose distribution is mainly controlled by tour operators.

They have guaranteed certain business levels during recession, but on the other hand “the tour operators prevent the hotels from taking advantage of the moment of the market cycle we are currently on,”

Although  Africa  is  the  least  visited  region,  its  share  of  the  global  tourism  market  is  increasing and the extent of the industry’s penetration has increased while Europe and North America tend  to  have less  dynamic  growth  (Brown  and  Hall,  2008).  In  2006,  Africa  as  a  destination showed  the  greatest  growth  at  8%  whilst  Europe  and  North  America  were  at  4  %  and 5  % respectively where one of the main reasons, is to have a taste of African dishes (Brown and Hall 2008; UNWTO, 2008).

In 1998, Africa received 25 million arrivals, which was an increase over 23 million tourists of 1997. These numbers of international tourist arrivals  are  concentrated  in  small  number  of  destinations  in  the  north-west  and  south-east  of the  African  continent. 

North  Africa,  with  35  percent  of  the  regional  total  and  southern  Africa, with 30 percent, attracted two-thirds of the total tourist arrivals, while East Africa received 23 percent, leaving only ten percent for West Africa and three percent for Central Africa (Rogerson and  Kiambo,  2007).

The  leading  destinations  for  African  tourism are  shown  to  be  Egypt  and South  Africa  (Mitchell  and  Ashley,  2006).  Between the four main African regions, the industry was worth an estimated $73.6 billion in 2005.

According to the WTTC forecast, Africa will grow fourfold between 1995 and 2020. Of that growth in tourist arrivals, Southern Africa, and South Africa in particular, accounts large share of the increase in visitor numbers.

Cameroon is becoming more attractive and it owes that to the boom of its tourism and hospitality sectors. This said, the country must list tourism as one of its major sources of revenues given that it contributes greatly to its GDP.

It all started with the 2016 Women African Cup which was hosted in the country, and also the engagement of the State, via the ministry of tourism and the private and public investment programme, ahead of the 2021 African Football Cup of Nations, also to be hosted in the country.

For these events, the government decided to renovate its hotels and it services (Sawa hotel, Mont-Febe…), and tap into a growing number of tourists in the country. Private actors are also involved in this process to diversify the sector’s offer, as they also want their share of the cake.

Indeed, these actors take part to renovations, as well as construction and expansion projects with six new public 4 to 5-star hotels to be erected by end of this year (Shacky, 2013). Some local private actors engaged in the trans-formation of Cameroon’s hospitality sector are Djeuga Palace, La Falaise, Akwa Palace, Krystal Hotels & Resorts, all plan to build 4-star and 5-star hotels in Yaoundé and Douala.

With this, it is obvious that hotel standards in Cameroon will rise to international norms thus improving the country’s attractiveness. Limbe habours a number of resorts areas such as Seme beach and a couple of hotels such as Fini hotel, Park hotel just to name these few.

Most of these hotels are a three-star tourist resort with large rooms, chalets and spacious suits to match its modern unchallenged international standards. They offer both African and European dishes with buffet on every sundry with drinks of assorted kinds.

These hotel have for decades catered for people who have shaped destinies of Cameroon by hosting historic events like the Reunification of the two entities of the country and accommodate most tourists.

Hence, as tourists or customers patronize their services, there are bound to be issues that might either make the customer to get satisfied or unsatisfied. Therefore, this research is designed to assess Buffet services in the Limbe resort town.

1.2 Statement of Problem

It is believed that, buffets as a style of food service, are concerning for at least two reasons: buffets increase food consumption and consequently food production which might often lead to food wastage.

Both, greater production and more food waste cause environmental problems and food wastage might occur probably, the quality of the buffet is of doubt full quality. Consequently, when the buffet services is not of good quality, this might lead to food wastage which is a major contributor to the overall environmental impacts of tourism.

However, buffets can also increase food service cost because more food is consumed and more food is taken, but not eaten. At buffets, people tend to overload their plates due to the wide variety and abundance of displayed food available to them, at no extra costs.

However, in some of these hotels in Limbe, the researcher witnessed an event where guest were not satisfied with the services delivered to them where some did not finish their meals and this caught the attention of the researcher which is to assess Buffet services in hotels in the Limbe resort town Limbe.

1.3 Research Questions

  1. What are the various types of foods served in the Limbe Resort town?
  2. How effective are the various services offered?
  3. What are the various challenges faced in providing Buffet services?
  4. What are the proposed solutions to better the Buffet services offered

1.4 Research Objectives

1.4.1 General Research Objective

The main objective of this study is to assess Buffet services of hotels in the Limbe Resort town

Based on this objective, the following specific objectives were formulated

1.4.2 Specific Research Objectives

  1. To identify the various types of buffet services served in hotels in Limbe resort town
  2. To examine the effectiveness of the buffet services in hotels in Limbe
  3. Challenges faced in offering buffet services
  4. Proposed solutions to better the services
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