A Future Of African Urban Three-Star Hotels

Exploring the Future of African Three-Star Hotels


The demand for hotel rooms and meeting space in emerging economic centres in sub-Saharan Africa is growing. Yet, hoteliers and developers are faced with fierce competition from alternative shared-economy accommodation providers. To respond to the shifting market, hotel owners and brands are seeking innovative ways to differentiate their services. Hotel groups on the continent are now collecting and analysing data to predict possible customer trends to enable them to tailor their offerings. Research indicates that hotel guests in the USA demand authenticity, personalization, seamless travel, and on-demand functionality. Yet, despite the obvious link between the experience economy concept and the hotel sector, rigorous comparative research on this topic in the African context has not been conducted. Three-star hotels are a significant contributor to the total hotel room revenue of the major African economies rendering them ripe for analysis. In turn, the aesthetic experience has proven dominant in predicting destination loyalty in the Global North. However, it is not clear how encounters with the architecture and space influence guest experience in three-star hotels in African cities.

The proposed research will explore user responses to the design of three-star hotels in emerging African economic centres. Three hotels located respectively in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia will serve as case-study sites. The proposed methodology will combine spatial analysis, site observation and qualitative interviews. Hotel staff and guests will be purposively sampled to explore the spatial impact of public and private spaces in the selected case-studies. This research seeks specifically to probe how the architecture of urban three-star hotels in African cities can encourage word-of-mouth or user-driven social media support and the retention of loyal guests. Existing studies indicate that the majority of business travellers in the USA participated in leisure-related activities during their hotel stay. The proposed research will also investigate the correspondence between business and leisure travel in the urban African context to examine whether and/or how cultural or geographical factors impact consumer behaviour.


A Future of Series Topic






Research Lead: Dr. Britt Bailey

Riette Kotze

Abrie Vermeulen