‘We do not take the Nigerian market for granted’
With three hotels, the Oak Plaza Hotel Group is pushing the frontiers of indigenous hospitality brand in Ghana. The group is also extending its campaign across the West African region and beyond to woo tourists and businesses from the region to experience its exciting offerings, and spend money within the region.
In one of such strategic marketing campaigns at the Akwaaba African Travel Market, which held in Lagos last September, Semira Anku, sales & marketing manager, Oak Plaza Hotel-East Airport, Accra, speaks to Obinna Emelike on the hotel group’s innovations, new developments, exciting product/facility offering, clientele among other issues.
How focused are on building an indigenous brand with Oak Plaza Hotel?
We are excited with the success of Oak Plaza Hotel. So far, it has been tremendous. Visitors and Ghanaians all know the Oak Plaza Hotel brand. A few years ago, we resolved to build an indigenous brand rather than relying on a franchise brand because our management believes that as Africans, we can do it.
We are looking forward to people buying the Oak Plaza Hotel brand even in Nigeria, Benin Republic and all other places we hope to expand to. So far, the efforts at doing our own thing have been fruitful. Currently, we won Best Three-Star Hotel award continuously for two years in Accra. This year, we are yet to see who will win it, it has been very good, and the feedback is good. But there are more rooms for improvement because if you are fighting with a giant then you have to be ready. But we believe that as part of our mission, we want to expand in Africa and then gradually we can go into the international market as well.
Does your sustained marketing campaign in Nigeria suggest how big the clientele from the country is?
The Nigerian market is very important to our hotel business because we get a lot of business from Nigeria. We do not take the Nigerian market for granted because we get about 47 percent of our clients from Nigeria. The figure is quite high. This is made possible with the help of everybody. We have good working relationship with Nigerians and the media has been very helpful. But I think everybody has been highly supportive.
We have corporate clients and those who do business with us as well from Ghana. Obviously, the high patronage and repeat visits by our Nigerian clients are because we take very good care of them. For instance, after the Akwaaba fair in Lagos, I am going for sales scores. I do not just come for the fairs and leave; I am going to be visiting a lot of companies before going back to Ghana. It is part of the efforts from us at the sales department to build the market.
What category of guests are your Nigerian clients?
We get both business and leisure guests from Nigeria. However, we get more of the business because we get a lot of corporate clients who do business with us. I was just looking at a list of Nigerians that come to us and I see a lot of companies.
We do a lot of business and we do leisure as well. But it also depends on the season. For instance, Christmas is coming and obviously Oak Plaza has a special rate for families who want to come and do Christmas. So, you will see a lot of families coming in during this time and even during Easter period.
For guests who desire to know, what is the rating of Oak Plaza Hotel?
Oak Plaza Hotel is a three-star hotel, but we pride ourselves in giving four and five-star services. When you go online you can review us on TripAdvisor and others platforms. On these platforms, you will read things like very clean rooms, and friendly staff.
When you come to Oak Plaza you will feel that touch of personalized offering and that is what keeps us going because everybody now claims to be nice. As well, this personal touch is what you do not get in the bigger brands.
They are big, they do not do personalised service, but we have people who even wake up in the morning as early as 6am just to speak to our clients to ask them, are you okay?, did you sleep well?, do you need anything or do you have anything I need to do for you?, and all that. So, that personal life style we give in our hotel, which other brands do not have, is the reason why we get a lot of clients.
How big is the Oak Plaza brand in Ghana?
We are big and growing even bigger. At present, we have three properties in Ghana. But very soon, the hotel is likely moving into building more apartments, and that is why we have the first apartment, which is the Oak Plaza Suites; which is more of the luxurious apartments. So that is the focus now. We are going to help improve the current hotel and gradually expand into building of apartments.
We opened East Legon in 2003 and we opened East Airport in 2009. For the Oak Plaza Suite, we are officially going to do the soft opening soon. Oak Plaza Suite should be available for everybody from the end of September upwards. We have 82 rooms in our East Airport hotel, 12 rooms in our East Legon hotel and 20 rooms in Oak Plaza Suite, which is the luxurious apartment though some of them are one-bedroom suites, and two-bedroom suites.
Is Nigeria the niche market you are trying to capture now?
Yes, off course. We have some clients who come on a very long stay. But we provide everything that adds to the experience of our long staying guests because if you are in the hotel and you cannot have a kitchenette where you can cook, boil or do little little things for yourself, it will be boring. So if you have a client staying for a long time, you rather suggest they go into apartments or residences. But that does not mean we focus our attention on our long staying guests, we have guest who stay with us for three months, four months, because we have that homely feel. Of course, our staff relate with you in a very homely way. As a result of that, some guests are happy to stay with us for a long time. We even have clients staying with us for six months, eight months and all that, but they are happy.
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