Thursday, June 16, 2016

Competition or Collapse? How International brands influence the success of local Hotel enterprises in Africa

Many international hotel chains are flooding our continent to do business, find new opportunities in a different market and grow. The introduction of these brands offers many customers and travelers a diverse array of amazing hotel options. For the many already existing local hotels, this move may seem detrimental to their business growth and development. Many local hotel brands are now used to dominating this under tapped market therefore facing competition from the international brands who have  an endless list of advantages: heavy financial backing, advanced technology, superior products, the group chain effect and seasoned marketing and management professionals. Understandably, the success of local businesses is considered as being in grave danger when international brands surface. The multi-million dollar question here is; does the introduction of international hotel chains bring collapse or competition for the local hotel businesses? Jovago assesses the various factors involved.
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The introduction of major international hotel brands or chains like Hilton, Marriott, Kempinski and Movenpick instantly causes a certain level of trembling among local brands; most of which may not have the power to compete. However, with high technology and exquisite decor, facilities and services; come high rates. Comparably, as the international chains charge exorbitant rates in foreign currency, many luxurious local brands provide an alternative for those who cannot afford the luxury of spending several thousands of dollars on a night’s stay. This is a great benefit for the local brands as many local travelers as well as middle to low income international travelers will prefer to stay in a good hotel with an affordable price, rather than stay in a fancy hotel for a very high price. The local businesses win here!

What this also means is that, very high standards are set by these international brands and the local brands are obliged to step up a gear or two to be able to compete at the highest level. Where there is no competition, many of the bigger local entities enjoy monopoly over the relatively smaller hotels in terms of size, quality of service and facilities. Standards are not really adhered to the fullest and everything seems okay. Immediately there is an introduction of one or two international brands, standards are set very high and the local brands need to upgrade to match up and be able to compete for the very few valuable customers. Facilities are then upgraded to meet modern international technological standards. Staff are also trained to become professionally equipped to handle international clients to their satisfaction. This is good for the industry in general.

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Another very important aspect of this battle is marketing. If it is possible for international brands to enter the local market, why isn’t it possible for local brands to attract international customers? Many local brands tend to learn new marketing strategies so as to aid them market beyond this continent and attract international travelers as well. These travelers may be used to the international brands and may be open to trying out local hotels when they intend to travel to a particular country. Through OTA’s like Jovago, travelers are able to access a wide range of local hotels and compare with what they already know to be able to make informed choices. This also gives opportunities for some of the very best local hotels to partner with the international chains and enjoy the unending benefits that come with it.

Finally, instead of seeing the influx of international chains as a recipe for collapse, local brands must just see this as a ‘’wake up call’’. It is time to upgrade their facilities, train staff and adhere to standards. This only makes them competitive and at least in business until they are ready for a total take-over, partnership or massive upgrade. With all these factors, the hotel industry in Africa will only benefit from the introduction of international brands. Local brands will not collapse if they maintain the right practices and learn rapidly. The future is only bright.

Credit : Jovago


President Mahama Loses Mother

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President Mahama
Mother of President John Mahama, Abiba Nnaba has died, Starr News has learnt.

She is reported to have died at the SSNIT hospital in Accra Tuesday after a protracted ailment.

Starr News has learnt the late Nnaba Mahama will be buried later today in line with Islamic tradition since she was a committed Muslim.

Click 'Photos' to see the picture of the president's mother.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Travel and See; Why you can't afford to stay in one place

On countless occasions, we are posed with a very significant yet intriguing question. Why travel? The reason why many people do not see the essence of travel is because they are either too comfortable where they are or they simply do not see the need to travel. In travel lies a permanent solution to many of life’s most pertinent problems. Jovago, Africa’s leading online hotel booking portal brings you a few reasons why you just cannot afford to stay in one place.
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1. Eye opener - Those who do not travel the world, just live in one place. Their lives are a static routine of events and repeated ambiences. Traveling opens your eyes to a host of new things, new people, culture, cuisine, lifestyle and a different side of life. When you travel, you see things that ideally you may not see in your home destination. If you do not travel, your eyes are literally just closed. Travel and see, then you will understand.

2. Creating meaningful relationships - Traveling helps you to create meaningful relationships. At home, most of the relationships we have are between us and our family, friends or loved ones whom we have known forever. When you travel, you network, establish new contacts and create relationships that last a lifetime. These are people you might not meet anywhere else in the world. Therefore, make the most of it. You might need them someday.

3. Adventure - Life itself is an adventure. Exploring new avenues or venturing into the world of the unknown is itself a great piece of adventure. When we travel, we are often faced with expectations of the things, places and people we will meet and live with in the destination we are headed. The expectations may either be met or there may be huge disappointments. Whatever the case maybe, there is simply no adventure in your comfort zone. Get up and move, you will find out that there is great adventure in it.

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4. Amazing stories - Every traveler has a story,most of which are ‘super stories’. However some of these stories are just nothing to write home about. We create our own stories when we travel. There is absolutely no new story when you stay at home. It’s just the same old routine. When you travel around the world, experiences come your way that make the travel stories worth listening to. From loss of luggages to misinterpreting a language to the different culture shocks, you will definitely have one or two great stories to tell.

5. Dreams come true – Every dream can become a reality only if you work towards it. Everyone dreams at a certain point in their lives. Sometimes they come to pass. At other times we just ignore them. However we choose to handle our dreams, it is clear that achieving a particular dream is very fulfilling and there is great joy and satisfaction in it. Many people dream of a vacation or a travel to a very fancy destination. How to get there is usually the problem. The motivation to actually live your travel dream is the first step fulfilling that particular dream. So go on, let your dreams come to life!
Credit : Jovago


Top 7 wedding / honeymoon taboos to consider before getting married

There are many things which are considered as taboos in our daily lives. In whatever we do, we are often guided by a strict set of religious customs prohibiting or restricting certain practices. Weddings or marriages are not left out. There are several marital taboos that many couples must consider before tying the knot. Let’s have a look at a few of these.
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1.      Not having a well structured budget - One of the greatest disservices a couple can do to themselves is not preparing adequately for the wedding in terms of finances. Most of the problems arising on the wedding day has to do with poor planning. Not having a well structured budget makes room for overspending which causes severe problems after the ceremony for the newlyweds.

2.                Not having a bachelors party or bridal shower - In the past, this wasn’t so much of a big deal and a would-be groom or bride could decide not to have a bachelorette or bachelors party and get away with it. These days, emerging trends have made it a taboo not to have a bachelors party or bridal shower on the eve of the wedding. These parties are usually considered the last nights of freedom for either couple. A time to have that kind of fun for the very last time.

3.                Men should not wear engagement rings - We are so used to seeing only the bride wear both an engagement ring and a wedding ring that it is quite unimaginable to see a man also wear two rings. Actually it is considered a taboo for the man to wear an engagement ring as it is considered as a thing for women. So the men only wear a wedding ring while the women wear both.

4.                Women proposing to men - This is a great taboo in many parts of the world. It has become a worldwide debate that seems to have no conclusion. Many believe that it is the sole responsibility of the man to propose love and marriage to the woman. This is generally accepted in many parts of the world hence the stance that when a woman proposes to a man, it is a taboo.
      
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5.            Taking the woman's last name or the woman keeping her own last name - It is definitely ‘’abnormal’’ to see a man taking the last name of a woman after marriage. Although sometimes some women are allowed by their husbands to keep their surnames as part of their name, this practice is also not very common. The ideal thing is for the women to take up the surname of their husbands hence any deviation from this is considered a taboo.


6.                Couple must not see each other on the day of the wedding before the ceremony begins - This taboo is an old but very stringent one. Under no circumstance whatsoever is either the bride or groom allowed to see his/her partner on the eve/day of the wedding before the actual ceremony begins. This is an old taboo that actually still holds and is observed to the latter by many couples.

7.                The wedding rings must not fall - Why would you even allow the most important pieces of Jewellery to drop on that day? These two rings are always handled with care. Most people entrust it in the care of the best man but in some rare cases, the page boy. Using the page boy as the carrier of this important item makes it very susceptible to the fall which is considered as a very bad omen.

Credit : Jovago



5 memorable Souvenirs to Get From Ghana

Memories! We always love to keep the very best of them. Whether memories of days spent with other loved ones or trips, travels and vacations.The best way to keep memories is undeniably through pictures and videos. However, there is another great way to keep memories of where you have been before. Souvenirs are just a great way to remember that special moment or the fun times you had at a particular destination. Jovago takes you through 5 memorable souvenirs to get from Ghana.

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The Ghana Flag - When you mention Ghana, there is one thing that symbolizes the country. This is the Ghana Flag. The colourful piece of history and heritage that stands out among others with great meaning. Carrying the National Flag of Ghana with you back home truly proves that you were in Ghana and gives you that superb feeling of reminiscing about the great times you had here. You can hang it in your bedroom or on the walls of your living room. The mere sight of the flag brings shivers down your spines.

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Weavings - This is definitely not exclusive to Ghana but it has all the trappings of a very unique art that Ghanaians have. Beautifully designed and crafty woven colourful baskets are a good take-home souvenir for anyone that visits Ghana. They are everywhere and come at very cheap price depending on where you choose to buy from.

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Kente - This is a unique woven Ghanaian cloth that carries so much respect, dignity and history. It is woven in a loom and comes in various iconic patterns and colours. It is popular among the Ashanti’s and has royalty written all over it. You cannot be in Ghana without buying a piece of Kente cloth.



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‘’Ahenema’’ - Another exclusive traditional Ghanaian souvenir that will remind you of Ghana anytime you wear it. This is a beautiful hand made royal pair of sandals, usually worn by Kings and Royals or on very special occasions. They come in different colours and designs for every occasion. Funerals, weddings, naming ceremonies, festivals etc all have their own ‘’ahenema’’ that go with it. Treat your feet to the Royalty and feel like a King or Queen walking in Ghanaian feet anywhere you are in the world while giving you the best memories you had in Ghana.

Branded items - These are usually the smaller items or pickables that you can get everywhere especially at the airport. They are often branded with the Ghanaian flag or the coat of arms. These include cups, scarfs, t-shirts, balls, caps, bags etc. You can buy as many as you can for friends and family who you left behind. Drinking from a Ghana branded mug or wearing a beautifully made Ghana branded t-shirt tells everyone about your affiliation with the country and gives you great memories of your time there.

You cannot travel without picking a souvenir. When you leave Ghana after a great trip down here, you take away very unforgettable memories. These memories are best remembered when you have something that constantly reminds you. Taking a few gifts back home to the loved ones you left behind makes them feel loved, appreciated and stirs up their interest to visit Ghana as well.


Credit: Jovago

Top 6 economic ways Startups can increase their fan base on Social media

Many entrepreneurs often say that doing your own business is a ticket to success. . Although starting your own business is never easy,hard work and determination certainly land entrepreneurs into a desired point..With the more globalized world and technology , there comes a time  to quickly grow any business . Social Media looks like it's the answer to many startups with very little or no marketing budgets. Realizing this, many start ups create official social media pages reaching out to clients not only in their locality but around the world. Africa’s leading online hotel booking website,Jovago points out 6 economic ways  startups can increase their fan base on social media.
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1.    Share useful and valuable content - Many startups make the grievous mistake of confusing the art of making their social media pages attractive and fun with posting ‘’junk’’ or otherwise unnecessary content. Not everything is worth putting out there. Social media followers are such that, they expect companies especially startups to post more promotional content. Surprise them.It has been observed that a 80/20 rule works for most startups to rapidly increase number of followers and get their brand name very well known. Posting about 80% non promotional  useful content and 20% promotional content will significantly improve how the official page is observed in the eyes of followers. Posting a variety of content also makes the page not boring but very interesting. Sharing visual content is also the most effective way to get attention from fans on social media. What they see is what gets them interested. People are interested to see other people hence sharing messages in a picture will get more views than written messages.


2.               Giveaways - ‘’Answer to win’’, ‘’Predict and win’’, ‘’Like and share to win’’ are few of the many things that get social media fans to like  and follow official facebook pages. When they have no idea what your startup page is,the best way to get their attention is to give something away for free. A quiz or predict & win competition is usually a good pick . It gets people interested in the brand and gets them to like and follow the social media page. Occasionally  it's very effective to give out free things or discounts to increase number of followers. The more free stuff people can get from being on your pages, the more they are interested to stay on the page and share the page.

3.               Promote social media presence everywhere - Many startups are content with the few thousands of fans they acquire in a short while. Do not stop! Make sure you promote the pages everywhere. Cross promotion helps a lot. For instance, you can promote your facebook page on twitter and your twitter page on instagram and vise versa. Also at events, in email signatures and other branded paraphernalia, you can promote the various pages. Let people know these pages exist. They have a medium to reach you through this.
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4.               Partner other bigger brands/personalities - The world of social media doesn’t exist in isolation. All the big accounts with millions of followers and likes started with a few tens and hundreds.In order to get a strong foundation, you need to partner with some of the bigger companies whith huge social media fan base through events or projects. By doing that, their fans automatically become your fans. Whoever trusts their pages,trust your page as well.Use influencers,celebrities and people with big accounts to increase the popularity of  your brand.

5.                Interact - Social media is all about interaction. Always be in the position to respond to fans comments,messages and posts.Whatever their concern may be,you should be there to help them find solutions. Also make sure to find and interact with people or brands who have similarities like your franchise. Chat,comment and let them feel you are not too far away.

6.                Hire a dedicated Social Media Manager - This may not be so economic afterall but the benefits are just overwhelming.Hiring a dedicated social media manager means that you have someone in charge. In the past, social media was not so much recognized thus there wasn’t a need to dedicate one person to managing these pages. However,in the modern day business world,it has evolved into a very useful marketing tool. With workload and expectation at very high levels,getting someone whose sole job it is to ensure the growth and sustainability of your pages seems a great bargain. Social media trends change regularly hence instead of getting someone to handle it as a part-time side project, dedicate a member of your staff to it.It is rewarding.


Credit : Jovago


Book now, pay later; why OTA's are the way forward

Online travel agencies popularly known as OTA’s are a collection of businesses designed to work both independently and collectively with hotels and travel related bodies to ensure the improvement of the hotel and travel industry, as well as provide amazing and affordable options for many travelers from all walks of life; with different tastes and preferences. In the past, the marketing and sale of hotel rooms used to be solely by the hotels themselves. Ocassionally, hotel marketing was done via media platforms and offline.
However, in the wake of ecommerce and online marketing, OTA’s have emerged as a major driving force in the hospitality industry and are recognized as the way forward. Jovago examines ways that OTA’s are beneficial to both hotels and travelers below.
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-First of all, OTAs have all of the inventory under one roof. This makes them the number one go-to place for any traveler. OTA’s give options. With companies such as Jovago having an inventory of over 25,000 hotels in Africa, travelers now have the world of  hotels literally  in their palms. With a wide array of options to choose from, you cannot get it wrong with the choice of  hotel when travelling. Price and facility comparison is also something that OTA’s give you with just a few clicks.

-OTA’s also make search and reservation easier. When booking directly from a hotel website, guests or travelers do not have recommendations to book other hotels if the hotel they desire is fully booked or rooms are unavailable for particular days. However, with OTA’s, even if your preferred hotel is unavailable, you are given many similar options to choose from. So without having to stress over what to do next, you can just find a new hotel and book right away.

-Massive deals and discount promos regularly. Although many hotels give discounts off their room rates or come up with packages sometimes, the weight of these discounts cannot be compared with those of OTA’s. Many of the Travel Agencies give very good discounts and offer amazing deals on special occasions, festivals and events. Also, since there are several hotels listed on these OTA’s, it provides for competition between these hotels in terms of who gives the least discount and who gives the most. This is beneficial to the guest as a room that may be more expensive on the hotel website may be far cheaper on the OTA.

-Search Engine Optimisation. Many OTA’s now pay for SEO. Google ads and other SEM tools are now used to make them very visible on webpages. Most of them want to be the topmost hotels on any search which makes them go extra miles to spend huge sums on SEO and SEM. Trackable links also give social media users and news readers direct access to so many options.

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-Customer Reviews. On hotel websites, we find reviews by customers that have utilized the facility and services in the past. Before they book a room at a hotel, many guests usually want to find out the experiences of others who have used the hotel. On OTA’s, you find a regular update of hotel reviews from many different hotels and this will inform you on the best choice to make based on other people’s experiences.

-Increased sales and Productivity. For relatively no cost, hotels who get listed on OTA’s get extra brand awareness and marketing. They are assured of reaching new guests that the hotel may not acquire on their own. OTA’s drive traffic to hotels and bring them extra guests which increases profitability and productivity.

As a matter of fact, OTA’s have inventories of more than 250,000 hotels around the world, which brings both travelers and hotels to one place. If you haven’t used an OTA before, the time is now. Do not stress yourself while you can simply contact an OTA and get things done.

Credit : Jovago


Not all about money: 5 cheap ways to plan your next travel

Let your memory be your travel bag. Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage. Many people tend to think that only the rich are capable of traveling or going on vacations. They are mostly skewed to the ideology that life is expensive and it takes a fortune to book flights, hotels and live in other countries while exploring and having a bit of fun. Fortunately, this is not the case at all. One can have a very memorable travel with very little money. Find below 5 cheap ways to plan your next travel by Jovago.
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1. Research and Decide quickly - Decision making is by far the greatest challenge to every traveler. Making that concrete decision to move out of your comfort zone is sometimes very difficult. A lot of research and thinking has to go into it before a final decision is made. Many are times  travelers end up spending too much money on travels or do not travel at all because of the fear of overspending for a few basic reasons. Not knowing where to go, what to do and not having a proper plan makes you spend too much money. Plan ahead of time, draw an agenda and cost every single item. You will realise that you can travel for less. Also, making the decision early helps you make arrangements in advance and be ready for contingencies. If you delay, you might have to pay premium charges for express services.

2. Choose a unique destination - Very often, when we think about traveling or holidaying we are skewed towards the very famous countries and very popular destinations. However, a critical look at many travelers itinerary makes it vivid that, depending on the time or season you travel, you can choose some very cool but unique destinations that offer similar value for cheap. Ideally, many tourists would want to visit Lagos, Nairobi, Cairo, Accra and Addis Ababa. The question is simple. Are there equally beautiful cities with amazing tourist attractions that come with rich culture, history and tradition? The answer is a big YES. So, instead of spending more money on the usual expensive destinations, take time and choose a unique destination that may give similar value. It is cheaper!!!


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3. Be flexible - Rigidity only means more spending. Any traveler who doesn’t open up to change and adaptation is usually destined for excessive spending. After all is said and done, it is the success of the trip that matters. Eat local food, blend with the locals and do the cheap stuff that the locals do for fun. Eating in an expensive restaurant or attending a fancy night club is okay when you have millions to spare but thing about the chunk you will be saving if only you go with the adventure. Have fun without having to blow money. Adjust to situations. There is obviously no place like home. You won’t have it the same way as it is back home. Manage to use very little to have the most fun.

4. Don’t be extravagant - Many people misconstrue showing off with comfort. They are two very distinct things. Whenever we travel, we tend to pay a lot of attention to comfort. This is actually very important because in as much as we want to have fun and adventure, we also need to feel at home. Many travelers however almost always confuse being comfortable with being extravagant. There is a way to get comfortable yet spend very little. There is absolutely no need whatsoever to overspend in booking a very fancy hotel when you can find cheaper accommodation for a satisfactory value. It is true that you should spend on making yourself happy but spend wisely. Avoid shopping in big malls and expensive shops when you can buy the same stuff online for cheaper.

5. Last minute deals - This is a two edged sword. It works both ‘’for’’ and ‘’against’’ many travelers. Getting last minute deals may work for you. Most airlines and hotels usually provide last minute discounts for travelers which may range from a little percentage off to whooping half price discounts. Waiting for a last minute deal may help you save a lot on flights and hotel accommodation. On the other hand, waiting on last minute deals may be detrimental. Last minute flights and hotels may be expensive as seasons approach. Mostly, reservations made before summer are much cheaper than those made very close to summer holidays. Just check your calendar and pick the right time to travel and make reservations when you feel the price is right.


Home sweet home; 3 key reasons why travelers abroad should return frequently

‘’Greener pastures’’ is largely the major reason why many Ghanaians travel abroad.Staying away from your home country is certainly not the best as it comes along with more negatives that positives. However,many travelers have their own reasons for not returning home in a long time. Coming home is probably the most intriguing aspect of every traveler's life. Jovago looks at a few key reasons why travelers abroad should return frequently.

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1.      DEVELOPMENT - In sub-saharan Africa, development is a word that is very important to many countries. Investment and self sufficiency largely contributes to development of many countries. Although it may take a considerable amount of time for many African countries to get anywhere close to Europeans and American countries, the growth is steady and with consistent improvement, we will get there.However, development plays a very major role in a country’s overall success and it has proven to be a very key reason as to why many expatriates should return frequently.There is a big question that many local people pose to travelers and expatriates all the time.Why don’t you want to come home? The answer is mostly the same.Africa is not as developed as the western world. By looking at how far we have come as a continent, it is quite expedient to note that development is one of the key reasons why Ghanaians abroad should return frequently.Massive development in technology,tourism and the economy means that Ghana has once again become a great place to be. Virtually all franchises (banks,telecom ventures and business) have opened branches in Ghana. Returning also means you indirectly contribute to this development  by being taxed on purchases made in Ghana. Don’t stay away for too long. Visit a few times and help develop your country of origin.


2.                KNOW YOUR ROOTS - Many Ghanaians were not born here in Ghana. Others travelled outside the shores of this country at a very early age. Many others travelled for greener pastures and have since not returned. Whatever the reason for travel is, once in a while, it is great to return and know your roots especially if you have never been back in a long time. Knowing where you were born or your hometime gives you a certain level of closure and exposes you to your real roots and the place from which you came. You get to learn and experience the rich culture,heritage and tradition of your own people. You get to hear the stories and history behind your place of birth.Even though you may have made a life and settled down far away in a different country, occasionally coming home to visit is good. You may decide to come during major festive periods like Christmas,New year or the many community based festivals.

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3.                FAMILY LOVED ONES - Unless you run away or travelled because you wanted to get away from a situation or some people forever, family and friends are good enough reasons to come back home.No man lives in isolation and no matter how many new friends you make, it cannot replace family. Always remember that you left people who love and care about you back at home. Visiting only makes the already existing strong ties even stronger. If you have been struggling to find motivation to come back home and visit, just think about how much you have missed your family and loved ones. Think about how you haven’t seen them in a long time. Think about the joy when you finally reunite. Think about the good old days and how much fun and excitement there was when you were with them. Then make that trip back to your homeland.


Credit : Jovago


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