Friday, December 13, 2019

Oxford Brookes Bsc(Hons) in Applied Accounting (Acca) Free Essays

string(62) " interests that might be difficult to measure quantitatively\." PART IPROJECT OBJECTIVES AND OVERALL RESEARCH APPROACH 1. 0. 0 INTRODUCTION Business and financial performance in the tourism industry Tourism is now one of the largest industries in the world. We will write a custom essay sample on Oxford Brookes Bsc(Hons) in Applied Accounting (Acca) or any similar topic only for you Order Now According to the WTO, the export income generated by international tourism ranks fourth after fuels, chemicals, and automotive products. Furthermore, the WTO points out that, for many developing countries, tourism is one of the main income sources of foreign exchange, and creates much-needed employment and opportunities for economic development. The industry has also enjoyed staggering growth over the past six decades. ttp://www. qfinance. com The tourism industry is also a major contributor to Zimbabwe’s economy thus I chose to assess the performance of a company in this sector to obtain a clear picture of how the performance of a major player in such a sector would contribute to the economy. In the tourism industry business and financial performance is highly dependent on the political factors of the host country. Political stability and good international relations are important for the growth of firms in the tourism industry as tourists only go to places where they feel s afe and protected. Spending on tourism and hotels is also closely related to the economic cycle. Certainly, spending on leisure activities such as holidays tends to be one of the first things that consumers cut back in times of economic hardship. REASONS FOR CHOOSING RTG 1. 2. 1 Rainbow Tourism Group Background Rainbow Tourism Group was established in 1992, and is the second largest tourism group in Zimbabwe and a major player in Zimbabwe’s Tourism Industry. Listed on the Zimbabwe Stock exchange, the company has spread its wings into the regional markets through management contracts  and Strategic Alliances. In Zimbabwe, RTG operates  four brands namely, The Rainbow Towers, Rainbow Hotels  (three star city and resort hotels), Touch the wild (top of the range eco-tourism lodges offering unique safari experiences)  Ã‚   and Zimbabwe Tourism Services (a destination management services company that caters for travel arrangements). (www. rtg. co. zw) RTG has a good corporate governance struct ure and is the second largest tourism group in Zimbabwe the largest being Africansun RTG’s operating environment For the period 2007 to 2009 Zimbabwe’s business environment was extremely hostile, most businesses were closing down and the few lucky survivors were scaling down their operations massively. The economy was ranked the worst in the world and inflation at its peak was around 6. 5 quindecillionnovemdecillion percent (65 followed by 107 zeros) . Long term planning was impossible in the industry due to the political instability and bad publicity that the country received following violence surrounding the March 2008 presidential elections as well as cholera outbreaks affected tourist arrivals in 2008, thereby limiting any growth in the economy. The highest decrease in the number of tourist arrivals was reported from traditional source markets, such as the UK and the US. Http. //www. euromonitor. com/Zimbabwe The managed exchange rate and high inflation rate made budgeting difficult. The introduction of price controls by the government in the sector meant that RTG could not increase their prices in line with inflation as they were supposed to request for price increases first whereas their expenses were increasing therefore cutting down their profits unreasonably. The rampant shortage of basic commodities such as food and drinks increased costs as supply could not match demand it also meant that hotels and restaurants could not offer services to its customers and therefore a drop in revenues and standards of services. A high unemployment rate of about 94% and a shrinking economy also meant that the local customers had no disposable income as 98% of the population was living under the poverty datum line and had to cut back on leisure activities. The tourism sector also faced a crumbling air transport sector, with ramifications for the entire economy and the withdrawal of a number of reputable airlines, citing viability problems. Approximately 18 international airlines are reported to have left the country since the start of the economic crisis in the year 2000. Some of the airlines that pulled out of the Zimbabwe route were Zambian Airways, British Airways, Swissair, Lufthansa, KLM and Air France. High fuel prices, combined with political and economic turbulence, were the reasons cited for the withdrawals. Zimbabwe’s isolation was a major blow to the already ailing travel and tourism industry, which relies heavily on high-spending incoming tourists. (www. newzimbabwe. com) Purpose and objectives of the research The objective of this research is to find out how RTG’s business and financial performance over the three year period 2007 to 2009 contributed to Zimbabwe’s economy when it was in a massive economic recession and when foreign currency and jobs were needed most. RTG is a major player in the tourism sector which contributes a significant portion to the GDP of Zimbabwe therefore RTG’s business and financial performance was not only important to its shareholders but also to the whole economy. To achieve this objective the researcher will also establish the following: * To establish how RTG measures and assesses its performance. * To find out what strategies RTG adopted to meet its business and financial performance objectives. * To assess whether RTG’s business and financial performance was adequate to survive the economic crisis it was facing. The research aims to answer the following questions: What measures were used by RTG to assess the business and financial performance and were they adequate? * What were the strategies RTG used to achieve its business and financial objectives and were they adequate? * How did RTG perform compared to its main competitors? * How did RTG’s business and financial performance contribute to the economy of Zimbabwe? * Did RTG meet the expectations of all its stakeholders? * How can RTG improve its performance? Research approach The researcher used a case study approach employing both qualitative and quantitative techniques to evaluate the performance of RTG. This approach enabled the researcher to make a balanced assessment and to consider other stakeholder’s interests that might be difficult to measure quantitatively. You read "Oxford Brookes Bsc(Hons) in Applied Accounting (Acca)" in category "Papers" To answer the above questions the researcher will use traditional techniques such asratio analysis and trend analysis to establish the patterns of performance while comparisons with other organizations in the same industry will also be done. Modern techniques such as Kaplan and Norton’s balanced scorecard will also be used in order to develop a comprehensive framework of assessing the business and financial performance of RTG. Gaps will be identified, conclusions drawn and recommendations will be made as to how RTG can improve its business and financial performance in future. PART IIINFORMATION GATHERING AND ACCOUNTING / BUSINESS TECHNIQUES Introduction Description of methods This section identifies the research methodologies which will be used for data gathering by the researcher. â€Å"research methodology refers to a whole range of questions about the assumed, appropriate ways of going about social research and is therefore a theory or an analysis of how research should operate† (hitchcock and hughes 1995:20). Data collection procedures Data collection is about using the selected methods of investigation which Robson (1997:304) believes there is no generally best methods as all methods have their weaknesses. Various methods of data collection were used in this research and the following are the primary and secondary data collection methods that were used. Primary methods * Interviews * Observation Secondary methods * books * journals and publications * internet * Published financial statements Secondary data Secondary data are statistics not gathered for the immediate study at hand but some other purpose. Churchill 2002). Secondary data was used in this research to get an in-depth understanding of the business and financial performance of RTG. Saunders (2007) gave the following advantages and disadvantages of secondary data Advantages * Saves time and money * High quality of information compared to data gathered by an individual at the point of research * Provides a general framework for c omparing data collected by the individual. Disadvantages * Accessibility of data maybe costly or difficult * The purpose why the secondary data was collected may not be relevant to the research being undertaken. There is no control over the quality of secondary data therefore accuracy maybe difficult to verify * Information gathered maybe outdated Primary data Advantage * The most important benefit of primary data is that data is original. Disadvantages * Results may not be representative of what is found in the population * The flexible nature of methods used can result in ambiguous results Research instruments Interviews An interview is a social survey conducted in a face-to-face or personal conduct situation. Heyward and Sparks (1984) define an interview as an occasion when one or two people ask questions that seek to find out opinions and ideas. Advantages of interviews Face to face * Immediate feedback * Quick feedback * Easy to tell whether respondent understood the questions, * physical gestures and personal contact adds emphasis * allows for a wide exchange of ideas * Good relations are established E-mails and Telephones * Immediate feedback * Appropriate for â€Å"always busy† interviewees * E-mails can be easily stored for other uses Disadvantages of interviews Face to face * Data is difficult to record, code and analyze * time consuming interviewee accessibility may be difficult * The interviewee maybe uncooperative E-mails and Telephones * late feedback caused by disruptions due to network congestion and technical breakdowns * High telephone charges Literature review 1. 1. 11. 1. 1 Financial performance Financial performance is a subjective measure of how well a firm can u se assets from its primary mode of business and generate revenues. It measures a firm’s overall financial health over a given period of time and/or compare with similar firms across the same industry www. investopedia. com/terms/f/financialperformance. asp 1. 1. 2 Business Performance Business performance can be defined as â€Å"the integration of financial and non-financial systems and processes to achieve organization goals and objectives† http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/business_performance_management Business performance is about creating value for the stakeholders of a business. Measuring business performance is therefore very subjective and finding suitable measures is very difficult. An organization’s business and financial performance cannot be measured in isolation it has to be compared with prior periods or other organizations in the same economic sector taking into consideration the company’s business environment. Business performance is guided by an organization’s vision and mission these outline the aims to be achieved and the desired end results. Research Approach The researcher will use a variety of business and financial performance measures. Firstly the researcher will consider traditional financial performance measures such as return on capital employed, liquidity gearing indicators, earning per share and trend analysis which shows the value added to the shareholder’s investments. The traditional argument is that shareholders are the legal owners of a company and so their interests should thus be to maximize shareholder wealth. Shareholders are generally concerned with the following: * Current earnings * Future earnings * Dividend policy * Relative The objective of wealth maximization is usually expanded into three primary objectives which are survival growth and to make profit Kaplan 2007:184) Traditional financial performance measures will be used to measure how RTG has been able to satisfy its shareholders. Weaknesses of ratio analysis As illustrated by Owen G (1994:386) the following are the main weaknesses of using ratio analysis * It uses historical information which maybe out of date * Can mislead when making comparisons if accounting policies are different * Can be distorted by one-off transactions * Takes no account of cyclical changes throughout a period * One dimensional To fully assess the business and financial performance of RTG the researcher will also use non-financial performance measures through the use of the balanced scorecard and other performance measures. The Balanced scorecard The balanced scorecard was developed by Kaplan and Norton as cited in Kaplan ACCA P5 (2009) defines it as a tool to translate an organization’s vision and strategy into objectives and measures. It looks at four perspectives namely financial perspective, customer perspective internal business perspective and learning and growth perspective. The aim of the balanced scorecard is to enable the business to develop a comprehensive framework for translating a company’s strategic objectives into a coherent set of goals and performance measures. Kaplan ACCA P5 (2009) Limitations of the balanced scorecard Neely (2002) argues that the most difficult problem of Balanced Score Card (BSC) is that it lacks several important interest groups in its structure: such as suppliers, co-operation partners and close neighbors. The International Institute of Management (2002) states the following implementation pitfalls and limitations of the Balanced Score Card: * Cut the jacket to fit the person do not cut the person to fit. * The balanced scorecard should not be balanced, success factors are not equal and their relationships are not linear. Trying to balance the scorecard will lead to confusion, conflict and lack of focus. * Insufficient cause and effect relationships and performance drivers. * Conflict of interest (different stakeholders want different things) * Measuring intangible assets (information and human capital) is difficult. Other measures of performance The researcher will also use other Critical success factors and Key performance indicators such as revenue per and room occupancy rates, among others to fully analyze the performance of RTG Ethical issues The researcher took into consideration ethical issues such as confidentiality and objectivity in carrying out the research and analysis. The researcher assured RTG that he was going to use the information he collected strictly for academic purposes. The researcher also assured all the individuals he interacted with that he was going to be objective in analyzing the information they provided. All the information the researcher obtained was kept secure at all times to preserve anonymity and confidentiality. . PART 3  Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Results, analysis, conclusions and recommendations This section is dedicated to the presentation of the data collected, its interpretation, drawing of conclusions and making recommendations. The researcher will start by presenting and analyzing his findings on the financial performance of RTG for the period 2007 to 2009 using ratio and trend analysis. In latter sections the researcher will present his findings and analyze RTG’s performance using non-financial performance indicators to assess its business performance. 3. 1 Traditional Financial Ratios of RTG 3. 1. 1 Profitability ratios of RTG Analysis of profitability was made very difficult by the hyperinflationary environment that was in Zimbabwe between 2007 and 2008. On 14 February 2008, the Central Statistical Office announced that the inflation rate for December 2007 was 66,212. 3%. On 20 February 2008, the Central Statistical Office said that officially, inflation had in January 2008 gone past the 100,000% mark to 100,580. 2%. On 4 April 2008, the Financial Gazette (FinGaz) reported that officially, inflation in February 2008 jumped to 164,900. 3%. On 15 May 2008, the Zimbabwe Independent reported that officially, inflation in March 2008 jumped to 355,000%. On 21 May 2008, SW Radio Africa reported that, according to an independent financial assessment inflation in May 2008 jumped to 1,063,572. 6%. The state statistical service in April 2008 said there were not enough goods in the shortage-stricken shops to calculate any new (official) figures. On 26 June 2008, the Zimbabwe Independent reported that, latest figures from the Central Statistical Offices (CSO) showed that annual inflation rose by 7,336,000 percentage points to 9,030,000% by June 20 and was set to end the month at well above 10,500,000%. According to Central Statistical Office statistics, annual inflation rate rose to 231 million percent in July 2008. The month-on-month rate rose to 2,600. 2%. By December 2008, inflation was estimated at 6. 5 quindecillionnovemdecillion percent (65 followed by 107 zeros) The Zimbabwe Central statistical office stopped publishing inflation figures and therefore the Zimbabwe Consumer Price Index was not available to adjust the 2008 financial statement figures. The historical figures used were out of date and comparison of costs and revenues gave a false picture and thus care should be taken in interpreting them. The researcher therefore could not analyze trends in revenue and cost as they had been heavily distorted by inflation and no adjustments could be made as the Central Statistical Office stopped publishing the inflation figures and the Consumer Price Index. Gross Profit Margin The gross profit margins of RTG in 2007, 2008 and 2009 were 74%, 99% and 84% respectively. The gross profit margin shows the gross profit generated per every dollar of sales. In 2009 Africansun limited’s gross profit margin was 65% therefore showing that although RTG’s gross profit margin had decreased from the prior year it was still better than its competitor. In the researcher’s interview with Mr L Chasakara RTG’s operations director, he said thatâ€Å"RTG managed to increase its gross profit margin from 74% in 2007 to 99% in 2008 by specifically targeting the domestic market†. Sales from the domestic market were increased from 78% in 2007 to 83% in 2008 as the foreign market was deteriorating due to the political instability in Zimbabwe in this period. The researcher however also noted that the increase in gross profit margin from 74% in 2007 to 99% in 2008 could have been due to the fact that the use of historical cost in 2008 overstated revenues due to high inflation figures and understated costs as most costs had been incurred earlier in the year. Revenue will generally be overstated in hyperinflationary environments if historical costs are used as costs are normally incurred before revenues are realized. Net Profit Margin The net profit margins of RTG in 2007 was (0. 62%), it rose dramatically in 2008 to 879% then decreased again sharply to 0. 13% respectively. In 2008 the net profit margin was heavily distorted by the RTG’S investment income which it gained from trading on the Zimbabwean Stork exchange which was booming at this time. In 2009 the use of the United States dollar as the official currency in Zimbabwe (Dollarization) saw inflation dropping to below zero percent. This resulted in more realistic profitability ratios with the gross profit margin dropping to 84% from 99% in 2008 and the operating net profit margin dropping to 0. 913% in 2009 from 879% in 2008. Removing investment income from the net profit before interest and tax in the 2008 statement of financial position gives us a net profit margin of 17% which is more indicative of RTG’s performance in 2008. The researcher asked Mr L. Chasakara, RTG’s operations director if the large profits that RTG had reported in 2008 were a true indication of its performance. Mr L. Chasakara responded saying â€Å"these were unusual results in unusual circumstances we did what we had to do in order to survive and excel in one of the most hostile economic situations in history† The trend in the gross profit margin and the operating and the net profit margins of RTG from 2007 to 2009 is presented in the table below: Source; Kembo H (2011) The table below shows the trend in net profit margin after subtracting investment income from RTG’s 2008 net profit before interest and tax: Source: Kembo H (2011) Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) ROCE is an indicator of the management’s efficiency in generating profit from resources. In 2007 RTG’s ROCE was 2%, it then rose sharply to93. 5% in line with the high profits that were earned in 2008 and then came down to 29. % in 2009. In 2009 Africansun Limited which is RTG’s main competitor had a negative ROCE of 18. 75%. Therefore even though RTG’s ROCE dropped from 93. 5% in 2008 to 29. 1% in 2009 it still was better compared to its rival in the Zimbabwean tourism industry. RTG’s ROCE was also higher than the average borrowing rate in 2009 of 15% which means that RTG added value to its investor’s funds as it managed ROCE above the minimum borrowing rate to compensate for the extra risk they took upon investing in RTG. Asset turnover The asset turnover ratio shows the revenue generated per dollar of assets that is the efficiency of assets in generating revenue. RTG’s asset turnover ratio for 2007 was 0. 20 times per annum then decreased to, 0. 094 times then rose to 0. 92 times per annum The Asset turnover trend between 2007 and 2009 is shown in the table below: Source Kembo H (2011) In 2007 and 2008 investment income contributed to the bulk of the net profit therefore RTG’s asset turnover ratios were very poor at 0. 20 times per annum and 0. 94 times per annumrespectively. This suggests that the group was using its funds for other investments rather than its operating activities as the operating environment was extremely hostile. In the researcher’s interview with the Operations Director of RTG, heexpressed that this move was necessary for survival as the mismatch of revenues and costs due to hyperinflation meant normal operations of the RTG would result in heavy losses. Asset turnover of RG T improved dramatically in 2009 rising to 0. 2 times per annum meaning that the group was using its assets effectively to produce revenue. Although RTG’s asset turnover ratio improved in 2009 it fades in comparison with its main competitor Africansun Limited which had an asset turnover ratio of 1. 32 times a year. This means that RTG was less efficient in generating revenue from its capital than its competitor. Working Capital Ratios Current ratio The current ratio measures the adequacy of current assets to meet liabilities as they fall due. (Financial Reporting F7 Kaplan 2009) In 2007 RTG’s current ratio was 0. 7:1 which meant that RTG’s could not service its liabilities in the event that they fall due. In an interview with the researcher the Accountant of RTG Mr G Nzunga said hyperinflation made it difficult to keep too much cash it would quickly be eroded, thus they had to channel their resources into the acquisition of tangible assets and keep current assets at a minimum. In2008there was further decrease of the current ratio to 0. 32:1 as inflation continued to rise and most people discouraged to keep cash or cash equivalents. In 2009 the current ratio of RTG was 0. 76:1, an improvement from the 2008 current ratio but still not satisfactory. In 2009 the use of the United States dollar as the official currency in Zimbabwe (Dollarization) saw inflation dropping to below zero percent thus the improvement as the economic environmentbecame began to normalize. Mr G Nzunga, RTG’s Accountant said that RTG was still in a difficult position as far as working capital management was concerned as a liquidity crisis began across industry soon after dollarization in Zimbabwe in 2009. The company was not generating enough money from its day to day activities to pay mostly suppliers and other current liabilities as they fell due. In 2009 Africansun Limited which is the biggest tourism group in Zimbabwe’s current ratio was 0. 49:1. The liquidity crisis in Zimbabwe made it very hard for companies in Zimbabwe to maintain decent current ratios and most of them had to employ aggressive working capital management. With a current ratio of 0. 76:1 RTG is considered to have performed quite well given the surrounding circumstances. Inventory Turnover Period Due to lack of information the researcher was unable to calculate RTG’s inventory turnover ratios, receivables periods and payables periods for the years 2007-2008 and could only calculate the inventory turnover ratio, receivables and payables periods for the year 2009. RTG’s inventory turnover ratio for the year 2009 was 143 days which was very bad considering the fact the larger percentage of RTG’s inventory is food that they sell to guests. Normally in the food industry inventory turnover should be fairly quick so as to preserve the reputation of the company and quality of the meals served. Africansun’s inventory turnover in the same period was 70 days which was better than that of RTG in this period. The accountant of RTG commented in this high ratio saying that they purchased large amounts storks to avoid the effects of stork outs in the event of food shortages which were common in Zimbabwe in 2008. In 2008 the retail and Food industries were almost facing ruin as shelves in shops went empty due to the economic and political challenges Zimbabwe was facing, therefore it was generally reasonable for RTG to keep relatively large amounts of stork. Payables Period RTG’s payables period was 726 days in 2009 which represents the credit period it was taking from its suppliers. RTG had such a bad payables period mainly due to liquidity problems that the majority of companies was having in industry and partly as an aggressive working capital management strategy. This however resulted in RTG gaining a very bad credit reputation from its suppliers. One of their major security suppliers Chubb Locks’ Manager was once quoted saying â€Å"RTG is the worst paying customer in the country†. Some suppliers have stopped supplying RTG as a result of RTG’s bad credit record but because they are a large firm RTG still gets new suppliers. Some suppliers now demand cash for all purchases made by RTG. RTG has also been forced to purchase their supplies from more expensive suppliers or poor quality supplies. RTG is also losing out on discounts they could gain by paying promptly. In an interview with the researcher Mr G Nzunga the accountant for RTG said that the company did not have enough liquid funds to pay all their suppliers. He also stated that it was also part of an aggressive working capital management strategy as they were receiving free financing from creditors. He however admitted that the strategy was getting over-aggressive and it was ethically questionable to pursue this strategy any further. In the same period African sun’s payables period was 12 days which was better than RTG’s period and hence its good reputation with suppliers across the industry. Receivables Period The receivables period for RTG in 2009 was 94 days. This was in line with their credit policy which states that the credit period allowable to customers should be three months. The receivables period for African sun was 59 days in 2009 which was better than RTG’s period this obviously shows that African sun Limited faces less risk from irrecoverable debts. Gearing The gearing ratio indicates the degree of financial risk the company is facing and the sensitivity of earnings and dividends to changes in profitability and activity levels. Kaplan ACCA F7(2009)) In the years 2007 and 2008 RTG did not have any long term borrowing thus the gearing ratio was zero. This meant that risk for financial risk for RTG was very low. Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe made long term loans difficult to get as any lender would find it very difficult to set interest rates as inflation was highly unpredictable in this period. The value of any money borrowed could be eroded within days if not hours therefore no companies had meaningful long term liabilities. In 2009 after the introduction of the US Dollar as the official currency in Zimbabwe companies started gearing up although the liquidity crisis that followed made it difficult to get funding from local financial institutions. In 2009 the gearing ratio for RTG was 2%. RTG’s gearing ratio was very low and induced very little credit risk to the shareholders. A low gearing ratio means that RTG has the scope to borrow more if there are any profitable ventures in the future and for their current refurbishment and expansion project at their A’Zambezi River Lodge unit and increasing the group’s room capacity. Financing will also be cheap for RTG as lenders will face very low levels of risk in extending loans to them. In 2009 Africansun Limited’s gearing ratio was also very low at 3. 5% which means it also had low levels of financial risk. The low gearing across industry also reflected the liquidity crisis which was eminent in Zimbabwe in 2009 where lenders did not have the funds to extend loans to firms and they were also still skeptical about the economic and political situation in Zimbabwe. Interest Cover Interest cover is the ability of a firm to pay interest out of its profits. In 2009 RTG Interest coverwas1. 52 timesand indicated that the shareholder’s dividends were at risk. However the ability of RTG to pay its interests having emerged from difficult economic times should satisfy its shareholders as Africansun Limited its major competitor failed to make profits to pay for their finance costs. Earnings Per Share The earnings per share of RTG for 2008was384 billion Zimbabwean dollars per share and the earnings per share for 2007 was 253. 7 Zimbabwean dollars per share. Converting these figures to United States dollars at the unofficial exchange rates that were ruling at the 2007 and 2008 year ends would make the respective earnings per share figures less than 0. 000001 US cents. Due to the hyperinflation in these periods the researcher found analyzing these figures very difficultand almost impossible. The earnings per share for RTG in 2009 was USD0. 01 which was quiet impressive compared to its rivals in the tourism industry as most of them. In 2009 the earnings per share for African sun Limited was negative USD0. 8. Customer Perspective Occupancy rates One of the main indicators of performance in the tourism industry is the occupancy rate of hotels. RTG managed an occupancy rate of 44% in 2007 which was below the Zimbabwean tourism industry average occupancy rate of 45%. In the tourism industry the more customers are satisfied by your service the higher your occupancy rate will be. In 2008 the occupancy rate of RTG decreased by 9% to 37%. The decr ease in occupancy rate was due to the economic and political instability during the 2008 Zimbabwean Elections were here was widespread violence in the country, therefore the number of tourists decreased. Most airlines also pulled out of the country ma The industry average room occupancy rate in Zimbabwe’s tourism industry was 41% which was higher than that of RTG which was 37%. This shows that RTG performed badly compared to peers in the tourism industry. The fall in RTG’s occupancy rate can therefore be attributed to failure to satisfy customers better than its rivals. In 2009 RTG’s occupancy rate increased to 40% which was an increase of 3% from the 2008 occupancy rate. The increase could be attributed to the improvement in the political and economic environment in Zimbabwe after the formation of a Government of National Unity (GNU) and the dollarization of the economy. The industry average occupancy rate for 2009 was 31% which was 9% below that of RTG. In an interview with the researcher Mr L Chasakara the operations director for RTG attributed the higher occupancy rate to better brand management, better marketing strategies and service excellence. RTG’s higher occupancy rate means that it was more able to satisfy its customers better than its competitors. RTG’s main competitor and the largest hotel group in Zimbabwe African sun Limited’s occupancy rate in 2009 was 32% showing that RTG performed exceptionally well in 2009 in managing to attract customers The table below shows RTG’s occupancy rate compared to the tourism industry average: Source Kembo, H(2011) . In an interview Mr G Nzunga RTG’s accountant said that the occupancy rates also improved because 65% of their sales come from repeat business from satisfied guests and large groups of organizations who hold seminars at RTG’s hotels. Service lead time In 2009 RTG managed to reduce its service lead time in its hotels to an average of 20 minutes between the time food in restaurants and rooms is ordered to the time it is served. In 2007 and 2008 the average service lead time was 30 minutes. Better training and process improvement helped in achieving the reduction in service lead time as said by the Mr L Chasakara the operations director for RTG, he also added that benchmarking against the best restaurants also helped in achieving the improvement. In 2007 RTG was not recording complaints in late service delivery to customers but in 2008 RTG recorded 2700 complaints and the figure improved to 1100 in 2009 which was a 59% improvement. This improvement shows that RTG improved in satisfying its customers in 2009. Service Quality RTG keeps books at all its hotels were customers are asked to write a comment on the services they would have received before they leave. A review of these books at two of RTG’s units Victoria Falls Rainbow Hotel and A’Zambezi showed the results presented in the table below: Comment| 2007| 2008| 2009| Favorable| 98%| 96%| 99%| Unfavorable| 2%| 4%| 0. 9%| Will Return| 68%| 80%| 70%| Will not Return| 0%| 0%| 0%| The results from the review of the comment books showed that the majority of guests were satisfied by the service they received on staying at RTG units which means that RTG performed very well in this regard. Internal perspective Room service complaints were 3500 in 2007 and increased to 4550 in 2008. This was mainly due to the shortage of basic commodities in Zimbabwe in 2008. Shortage of commodities meant that the hotel could not provide its customers with some luxury items they were used to having every time they visited and hence the increase in complaints. The Accountant at RTG Mr G Nzunga explained that they made sure that their staff would explain the situation very carefully to the customers and extensive training of staff ensured that they were able to utilize the few commodities that were available. In 2009 complaints decreased to 2900. This could partly explained by the end of the commodity crisis in Zimbabwe. This also shows that RTG managed to improve its internal processes to reduce the number of complaints they were receiving from customers yearly. Learning and innovation RTG has invested heavily in the training of its staff in order to give better service to its customers. RTG has opened a Hotel School for the training of its workers and other external students. The commitment of RTG to continuously improve its operating processes and learn new ways of doing things has seen them being able to keep costs low and increase room capacity to make when its competitors are making losses and their occupancies are dropping. In an interview with the researcher Mr G Nzunga RTG’s Accountant said that every worker at RTG attends at least 1 seminar every month in order to keep them abreast of changes and new ways of doing things. Interview review Question1 In the first question the researcher asked the operations director and the accountant of RTG what their financial and business objectives were. The responses can be summarized as follows: * To be profitable and to create value for our shareholders. * To survive and grow in the long run thus protecting the interests of all our stakeholders. In 2008 the main objective was to survive in the harsh economic climate in order to save the tourism industry and the Zimbabwean economy itself * To achieve service excellence in tourism and hospitality. Question 2 In question 2 the researcher asked the accountant of RTG how they measure their business and financial performance. In response he said RTG assesses its performance through traditional financial perform ance measures such as ratio analysis and trend analysis and other modern measures especially the balanced scorecard as they are equally concerned about the qualitative aspects of performance. Question 3 In the third question the researcher asked the accountant and the operations director of RTG if they could explain the trend in the ratios that had been calculated from 2007 to 2009 financial statements. They gave various explanations for all the fluctuations in these ratios some of them have been quoted in the analysis of these ratios in the section above. The most common response to the financial ratios was that they were unusual results in an unusual environment referring to the hyper inflationary environment that was in Zimbabwe during this period. Question 4 Question 4 was to establish which strategies RTG used to ensure that they met their business and financial objectives. In response the accountant and operations director outlined the following as some of the strategies they implemented: * Employing an aggressive working capital strategy to mitigate the liquidity and operational challenges they were facing * Investing in money markets rather than core operating activities to improve the cash and revenue inflow. Focusing on the local markets rather than the traditional international markets that had been negatively impacted by bad publicity and political instability. * Process and service improvement through employee training. * Intensive marketing both nationally and internationally * Strict stock management to curb the shortages of basic commodities that were prevailing as a result of price controls by the government. Questions 5, 6 and 7 These questions were to establish how RTG business and financial performance contribu ted to the economy and how it can improve its performance in future. In response the interviewees stated that in making profits and surviving through the historic hyperinflationary environment in the period under review RTG saved the tourism industry in Zimbabwe as its downfall would have surely resulted in the collapse of the tourism and hospitality industry. They also stated that they managed to save thousands of jobs and provided business for hundreds of their suppliers. They also stated that to improve performance RTG would spend more on capital through hotel refurbishments and also taking advantage of their low gearing by taking loans thus improving working capital. They also stressed the need to advertise and restore the image of Zimbabwe as a tourist destination. Conclusion The researcher found out that RTG uses both financial and non-financial performance measures through the balanced score card which gives a comprehensive framework for performance measurement. This ensures that both quantitative and qualitative performance objectives are assessed. RTG used various strategies to ensure that it met its financial and business objectives which were mainly to survive the harsh economic environment and to protect its investors employees and all its stakeholders. RTG used strategies such as aggressive working capital management, investing in the money markets instead of its core operational activities and shifting their attention on the local market rather than the traditional international market. RTG also innovated through constantly innovating and improving its processes to achieve its business and financial objectives. Limitations of results The major limitation of these results is the unavailability of inflation adjusted figures for the proper analysis of financial ratios and trend analysis which might have given a false picture. The researcher held interviews with only 2 members of the executive management team which might have given a narrow picture of RTG’s performance. Interviewing all members of the management and the board would have given the researcher a broader understanding of the business and financial performance of RTG, but time and the availability of most of these people was a challenge. The researcher could not visit all RTG companies due to limitation of resources as they are geographically dispersed. This might have limited the researcher especially when he looked at the qualitative aspects of RTG’s performance. Recommendations The researcher recommends that RTG should employ less aggressive working strategies. RTG’s current working capital strategy may see suppliers refusing to supply them with critical supplies. RTG might also face legal action from its suppliers which may increase its legal costs and even loose customers who may not want to be associated with firms who have bad credit reputation. RTG should thus reduce its payables period to a more reasonable period of perhaps 90 days. The researcher also recommends that RTG should increase its gearing levels as they are currently very low in order to take advantage of loans which provide cheaper financing than equity. Zimbabwe’s reputation as a safe tourism destination was severely damaged due to the political and economic instability in 2007 and 2008. The researcher thus recommends that RTG should form partnerships with other players in the tourism industry to market the Zimbabwean brand in the international tourism market. How to cite Oxford Brookes Bsc(Hons) in Applied Accounting (Acca), Papers

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