“One thing everybody wants and needs in this world is FRIENDLINESS’’ – William E. Holler.
Before you start getting heated up if you are a Ghanaian, take a minute, breathe in and be sure that, this is a very objective yet unharmful observation. According to a hospitality report for Ghana released by Africa’s leading online travel website Jumia Travel, Ghana is noted as one of the most friendly countries in the world with it’s general warmth and hospitality. The people of this great West African country are just amazing when it comes to welcoming guests and making them feel at home. However, the big question remains. Is friendliness enough to compensate for inefficacy?
Akwaaba’’ which means welcome in Ghanaian local parlance is probably the first thing you will hear or see on arrival in Ghana. The people here almost always wear a smile, assist you when you need help and sometimes even go the extra mile just to make you feel at home. A close look at how this impacts tourism and hospitality development clearly punches a few holes into this subject. For sure, we all agree on one thing that Ghanaians are friendly but not efficient. The alarming nature of the latter part of that statement can be attributed to so many things.
Comparatively, in other parts of the world, everyone is involved in the development of travel and tourism. The taxi drivers double up as tour guides and offer ready up to date information about tourist destinations and all the guest needs to know to make their stay worthwhile. In some excellent cases, these drivers and tourist guides even offer foreign currency exchange services and recommend good hotels. On the opposite end of the spectrum, many Ghanaians stick to their jobs and that ends it. Although a Ghanaian driver from the airport to your hotel may smile and be very friendly, he will just stick to driving and may not even recommend a better hotel option or recommend a great tourist destination or site. Many people either have little or no knowledge about these sites and even the history behind many of the things around them. This makes it difficult to communicate well with guests to promote tourism in Ghana.
Professionalism is another way of improving efficiency and ensuring productivity. In many of our hotels, Ghanaian workers such as receptionists and security personnel are very friendly with over the counter smiles and support.
However, their level of professionalism often causes a dent in their level of efficiency. A receptionist may not know directions to the closest tourist destinations or not even have restaurant options available to offer a guest. Assisting a guest with his luggage or giving directional assistance on several other issues which may not be directly related to their line of work is something they seldom do. Always wearing a uniform or a name tag, record keeping and observation as well as excellent and timely customer service are a few keys to what makes one a professional and shows efficiency. Unfortunately, many Ghanaians lack this. They are always on hand with a smile and willing to support but the manner in which we do it leaves a lot to be desired.
If only we can find a way to harness our amazing friendliness with efficiency, our tourism and hospitality industries are in line to become Ghana’s highest foreign exchange earner.
Credit:Bennet Otoo, Jumia Travel