Hotel type: According to the Ghana tourism board, hotels can be classified base on the management arrangement and hotels in Ghana mainly fall under the following broad classification; Independent, Chain and Franchise.
Independent hotels: Independent hotels do not have ownership or management affiliation with other properties. They have no relationship to other hotels regarding policies, procedures, financial obligations, management, accounting among others. They are usually registered as sole proprietor-ship or a private limited company whereby the owner decides on the standards, type of clientele and the tariff. They usually tie up with travel agencies and tour operators to sell their property against commissions
Chain hotels: Chain hotels are usually two or more hotels that come under the same management. In general, the more centralized the organization the stronger the control over the individual property. Some chains have strong control over the architecture, management and standards of affiliated properties. Other chains only concentrate on advertising, marketing, purchasing.
Franchise hotel: Franchise is a system in which the franchise owner grants another the right or privilege to merchandise a product or service for a specified return. Franchise Agreement is an agreement under which the owner operates a hotel as a member of chain of hotels, utilizing the brand image, name and goodwill and obtaining for a certain fee some services of marketing and operating nature support from resources of a large hotel as well as benefiting from advertising, sales promotion, technical and financial help.
Hotel size: Hotel size refers to the number of rooms. In this study the various categories on the basis of size are; Small hotel - a hotel with 25 rooms or less, Average hotel- a hotel with 26 to 50 rooms and Large hotels- a hotel with above 50 rooms.
Hotel Category: Ghana Tourist Board classifies hotels based on the quality standards adhered to by the hotels. Adherence to quality standards are signified with the award of ‘stars’. The minimum number of stars is one and maximum is five. Requirements for the granting of stars are consistent to the guidelines provided inside the cover of the Automobile Association (AA) and Royal Automobile Club (RAC). Below are hotel classifications according to stars:
One Star Hotels: they are small and independently owned with family atmosphere. Services may be provided by the owner on informal basis. They have limited range of facilities and meals are fairly simple.
Two Star Hotels: they are small to medium sized and offer more extensive facilities than one star hotels. They offer comfortable and well equipped overnight accommodation usually with an en-suite bath/shower room. Staff usually offers more professional presentation than at one star level.
Three Stars Hotels: These hotels are usually of size to support higher staffing levels and a significantly greater quality and range of facilities than at the lower stars. Public rooms are more spacious and the restaurant also caters for non-residents. All bedrooms are en-suite bathrooms.
Four Star Hotels: Hotels under this category provide some degree of luxury as well as quality in the furnishings, decor and equipment in every area of the hotel. Staff to guest ratio is high enough to provide services like porterage, 24-hour room service and laundry services. The restaurant demonstrate a serious approach to it cuisine.
Five Star Hotels: They provide spacious and luxurious accommodation matching the best international standards. The interior designs impresses with its quality and attention to details, comfort and elegance. Services are highly formal, well supervised and flawless in attention to guest needs without being intrusive. The restaurant demonstrates high level of technical skill and produces dishes to the highest international standards. Staff are knowledgeable, helpful, well versed in all aspects of customer care, combining efficiency with courtesy (Brody, 2009).
Level of Education: The level of education is categorized as Diploma, HND, Bachelors, Masters and PhD. The levels of education provided in this study are in accordance to Tertiary education provisions in Ghana.
Hotel Location: Ghana can be divided into three zones; the southern zone which comprise of Greater Accra, Volta, Central and Western: the middle zone comprises of Ashanti, Eastern and Brong Ahafo: the northern zone which comprises of Northern, Upper East and Upper West. In this study respondents are to indicate the location of their facilities according to the ten regions in Ghana
Part 2: Internet Marketing Dimensions
These are measures of all variables and names of the variables in data analysis. In this section of the questionnaires all the items scale are nominal and form of answers is Yes or No consistent with Sigala (2003). According to Angehrn & Meyer, (1997) each dimension of internet presence is further classified in terms of its technical sophistication (simple or advanced) and level of customization (low or high). They argued that sophistication reflects the degree to which specific characteristics of the underlying medium or dimension of the ICDT model are exploited, and customization reflects the degree to which the internet is used to provide individualized products and services to users. As stated in Chapter three of the study, High or low sophistication/transformation is used to indicate technical sophistication and level of customization. The letter “L” or “H” is added to each item to indicate that the variable is of Low or High sophistication depending on the extent which the item exploiting the interactivity and connectivity capabilities of the internet. However all the aspects in the Customer relation dimension are classified as high sophistication because to make use of them, requires the exploitation of advanced internet tools
24. Has your hotel created an online community for customers
25. Does your hotel solicit for feedback from customers via the internet
Transformation Product (TProd)
Provisions of items (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7) make use of sophisticated internet or multimedia tools and presentation techniques to gather data about users and recognize loyal customers and providing customized services to them. On the other hand item (1) is of low sophistication because; it includes setting up of simple web pages displaying information to users in an undifferentiated way.
Transformation of Price (TPri)
Item (8) is characterized as low sophistication because it involves static pages displaying different types of rooms on offer and their prices. Whereas Items (9, 10, 11, and 12) are classified as high sophistication because, their provision requires the exploitation of networking, informalization and interactivity capabilities of the internet to regularly change their prices online depending on demand, guest profiles, and/or give customers the opportunity to negotiate room rates online.
Transformation of Place (TPla)
The items (13 and 14) are characterized as low sophistication because they involve the use of simple internet tools to receive email request for bookings and promote hotel web site on the internet through listing on search engines and informediaries. Items (15 and 16) which includes the provisions of online bookings and secure payments are classified as high sophistication as their provision requires the use of higher and more complex technological functionality (Wen, et al., 2001; Zott, et al., 2000)
Transformation of Promotion (TPromo)
Items (17 and 18) reflecting the use of the Internet for advertising and for the provision of online promotions are classified as low sophistication since it involves the use of generic or simple Internet tools, whereas items (19 and 20) were characterized as high sophistication because they fully exploit the interactivity and connectivity capabilities of the internet.
Transformation of Customer Relations (TCR)
All the items (21, 22, 23, 24, and 25) of the customer relation dimension are classified as high sophistication because to make use of them it requires the use of advanced technological tools to exploit the interactivity, connectivity and convergence capabilities of the internet
4.9 Data Presentation and Analysis
Copper and Schindler (2003) are of the view that, virtually all research involves some numerical data that usually could be quantified to help answer research questions and to meet objectives. Data collected need to be analyzed and interpreted. Depending on the nature of study there are numerous statistical techniques for analyzing data.
For analyzing data gathered from questionnaires, several techniques are available in statistical tools such as SPSS. To answer our research questions simple frequencies and percentages are applied to know the number and proportion of hotels regarding the transformation of aspects in each of the internet marketing mix dimensions. We chose to analyze our data using general frequency because it gives the researcher the opportunity to present detailed information on nominal (category) data and describing the results which is consistent with the focus of this study to present in detail the composition of the internet marketing mix. Also the frequency distribution was presented in pie and bar graphs. Visually illustrating the data this way can help a reader make sense of the findings. These analyses were executed using the Multiple Response facility of SPSS. SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) has been in development for more than thirty years. Originally developed as a programming language for conducting statistical analysis, it has grown into a complex and powerful application which now uses both a graphical and a syntactical interface and provides dozens of functions for managing, analyzing, and presenting data. Its provide researchers with a wide range of statistical capabilities from simple percentages to complex analyses of variance, multiple regressions, and general linear models. Also data ranging from simple integers or binary variables to multiple response or logarithmic variables can also be used. In additions SPSS provides extensive data management functions, along with a complex and powerful programming language. Besides the all the capabilities of SPSS, the decision to use it to analyse our data was also due to our familiarity in its use.
The Multiple Responsecommand allows us to analyze a number of separate variables at the same time, and is best used in situations where the responses to a number of separate variables that have a similar coding scheme all ‘point to’ a single underlying variable. In this study we consider each of the items in each of the five internet marketing dimensions (Product, Place, Promotion and Customer Relation) as all pointing to transformation of the dimensions. Each of the items in the questionnaire captures just one aspect of the complex variables (marketing mix dimensions). It is therefore appropriate to summarize the responses to these items at once, and to be able to use the pattern of responses across these items in further analysis with other variables, which is exactly what the Multiple Response command allows us to do.
To use the Multiple Response command a Multiple Response Set for each of the dimensions were set up for each of the internet marketing mix dimensions. This procedure instructs SPSS to group together the responses across each variable. The coding scheme for the items that make up the Multiple Response Set are “1=Yes and 2=No. the coding scheme is noted because we need to tell SPSS which value is of interest to us. Here we are interested in all the Yes responses to each item.
As indicated in chapter three, to measure the sophistication of the Internet marketing strategies, each of the five dimensions of the model were further analyzed in several aspects/features that indicate the degree to which hotels have adopted sophisticated strategies. Items in the questionnaire match with the aspects/features within the five dimensions in table 3.1 of chapter three. The degree to which hotels have adopted sophisticated internet marketing strategies depends on the responses to the questionnaire items by each of the surveyed hotels. Consistent with Sigala (2003) and Angehrn’s (1997) analysis of the Internet marketing mix model, the surveyed instrument of each dimension are characterized as low or high sophistication depending on whether the interactive and connectivity capabilities of the Internet are used.
To measure the degree of transformation of each dimension, the sum of the aspects that the respondent answered “Yes” and the total number of aspects within the dimension from the multiple response output for each dimension are used. The transformation degree of each dimension was calculated by the ratio of the sum of the aspects used to the total number of the aspects within the dimension. Each feature carried the same weight of one (1) meaning if all the hotels uses all the aspects within a dimension then the transformation degree for that dimension would be one (1) or 100%. A transformation degree less than 0.5 or 50% indicates a low transformation/sophistication meaning hotels make limited use of the capabilities offered by the internet whiles a transformation degree above 0.5 or 50% indicates high transformation meaning hotels are taking advantage of the unique capabilities offered by the internet.
Saunders et al., (2000) is of the view that feasibility is an important determinant of what is chosen for research and how the research would be conducted. He went to provide some strategies that could be used to gain access; using suitable language, the use of existing contacts and building new contacts, allowing sufficient time to carry out the research, establishing credibility, facilitating ease of use responses when requesting access and spelling out benefits to the organization or individual in giving you access.
In this research emphasis was placed on gaining access. To gain access, permission to conduct research was considered with the aid of a consent form. Permission was also sought for the use of professional and academic articles and other published papers. We introduced ourselves to respondents as students conducting the study with the aid of an introductory letter from the university authorities and identity cards and sought permission from them before asking them to respond to the questionnaire. We also explained to respondents the purpose and how their participation will help come out with findings that will help improve their organisation and were also assured of anonymity and confidentiality of their responses.
4.11 Credibility of Research Findings
According to Saunders, et al, (2000; 2007) researchers must pay particular attention to reliability and validity to reduce the possibility of getting wrong answers. Reliability and validity helps to conduct the research and adds strength to the findings. Validity of a research is the extent to which the instrument measures what it is supposed to measure (Saunders et al., 2000). Whereas reliability of the instrument is concern with the consistency of the responses to the items (Mitchell, 1996). In this study emphasis was placed on the validity and reliability to ensure the credibility of the research.
As mentioned earlier, validity refers to whether the research instruments measure what it is supposed to measure i.e. accuracy of measurement (Sullivan, 2001; Saunders, et al., 2000; 2007). Validity can be internal or external. The following indicates how the validity of this research was ensured:
Content validity: content validity or sampling validity refers to whether a measurement instrument has adequate and representative coverage of the concepts in the variables being measured. According to Mitchell, (1996) to establish content validity, researchers must seek expert’s opinion on the representativeness and suitability of the measurement instruments and also suggestion must be allowed to be made to the structure of the instrument. In this research after the initial draft of the questionnaire, experts in the field of e-commerce, marketing and in hotel management were consulted to review its content validity.
Construct validity: This has to do with measuring an instrument to an overall theoretical framework in order to determine whether the device confirms a series of hypothesis derived from an existing theory. Thus, the instrument must have existing conceptual or theoretical bases in the literature. The questionnaire used in this research was designed based on the items in the internet marketing mix model (sigala, 2003). The model was used to benchmark internet marketing strategies in hotels which led to the extended internet marketing model that is considered as an effective model to measure internet marketing activities. Also to enhance construct validity, data was collected through multiple source: self administered and interviewer administered questionnaire were complemented by the use of Hotel’s web pages
Face validity: involves assessing whether a logical relationship exist between the variables and the proposed measure. This type of validity is highly subjective; do not provide enough proof of validity. However in this study it seemed logical to us investigate internet marketing strategies of hotels in Ghana using a questionnaire-based survey.
External validity: This refers to the extent to which the results of a study could be generalised. In this work, to ensure external validity, the findings and results will be generalized to the Ghanaian.