Innovation as the key to hotels’ survival

Study advises small and medium hotels in Mauritius to embrace new technologies and cultivate new clienteles.

Hotels form a vital sector of the economy in Mauritius, an African island nation in the Indian Ocean.
Credit : freeartist/123rf

Small and medium sized hotels in Mauritius must adopt innovative business models in order to regain a foothold in the country’s changing accommodation marketplace, according to a new study published in the Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities. 

Mauritius is an African island nation in the Indian Ocean, more than 1,000 kilometers east of Madagascar. Tourism is expected to grow significantly on the tropical island in 2018, as the government aims for an annual target of 2 million visitors, up from 1.32 million visitors in 2017. Hotels form a vital sector of the economy, with large impacts on business development, job creation and the inflow of foreign currency 

The sector is also exposed to the impacts of transformations in the global travel industry, especially disruptive business models such as Airbnb and advances in communication technologies. For instance, millennials have a greater expectation of high-end technology guest experience in accommodations as compared to repeat tourists. Large hotels have clear innovation strategies to meet modern travelers’ expectations, while small and medium hotels have been slow to transform their businesses. 

“With an average annual occupancy rate of 48 per cent during the peak season, small and medium hotels are no longer competitive, in comparison with the large hotels in Mauritius,” elaborates Vijayelaksmee Goorah of the Open University of Mauritius in Réduit, Moka. Goorah co-authored the paper examining the impacts of business model transformations on the country’s smaller hotels with colleague Shireen Panchoo of Mauritius’ University of Technology in Pointe aux Sables. 

Using literature reviews, structured and semi-structured interviews, as well as questionnaires, the study sought to identify weaknesses in the current business models of small and medium hotels and highlight the innovations necessary to secure a more promising future. 

“These hotels are in a good position to rethink their facilities and services to appeal to certain guest demographics, such as older travelers or long-stay business travelers,” says Goorah. “And by creating unique offerings targeting new customer segments, such as visitors from China, they can attract a new clientele.”
This approach, however, require smaller-scale hoteliers to reach out to potential partner organizations and to consider seeking funding support from government. Digital platforms are also identified as a means of connecting with new clients and strengthening relationships with customers.