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Valentine’s day is big business!

While the annual commemoration of Valentine’s Day is most commonly associated with love and romance, corporate Ghana and small enterprises see it as a major sales opportunity. TOMA IMIRHE looks at the commercialization of the celebration of love and romance in Ghana.

Every year, in many parts of the world – particularly those parts that have embraced the culture of the western hemisphere – February 14 is a day with special significance. This is Valentine’s Day, a day put aside to celebrate love and romance. Ghanaians have embraced this global commemoration with more gusto than most; many Ghanaians have lobbied that it should be made a public holiday.

Successive political administrations in Ghana have however resisted such calls and rightly so – Valentine’s Day is celebrated widely around the world but nowhere is it elevated to the status of a public holiday.

The sectors of Corporate Ghana that stand to benefit from the revelry that accompanies it do not need it to be one anyway. Because of its very nature most of the activities that take place to commemorate it take place after dark and thus, after working hours, lasting well into the early hours of the morning, and in many cases, couples keep on going till the sun comes up.

Inevitably, corporate Ghana has a cost to pay as many employees trickle in to their respective places of work disheveled and bedraggled around mid-morning.

But for many enterprises, corporations and institutions in Ghana, Valentines Day celebrations are well worth the disruption that inevitably accompanies it; only the end of year festivities {the season that lasts from Christmas eve to New Year’s Day} and Easter rank ahead of it with regards to spending on leisure and recreation; and this only because Valentine’s Day activities are necessarily condensed into just a few hours, rather than several days. Measured by sheer intensity, Val’s Day beats all comers on Ghana’s social calendar.

Out in the open the biggest beneficiary enterprises are those that sell food and drinks, as well as chocolates, an item usually associated with love and romance and indeed which Ghana’s government is trying to leverage on by declaring it National Chocolate Day in order to boost sales of a product which corporate Ghana produces to the highest international standards.

Behind closed doors though, hotel rooms, condoms and sexual aphrodisiacs compete with regards to the proportional spike in sales.

The sales spikes for all goods and services associated with Valentines Day though are large indeed. Says one three-star hotel receptionist on condition of anonymity: “Valentine’s Day is the only day when our rooms are fully booked and the food in our kitchen run out.”

Similarly, chocolate sales are estimated to be up to quadruple the daily average for all the other days of the year.

This year, Valentine’s Day is expected to be lower key than in previous years, as a result of the liquidity crunch that is afflicting most households. But this is deceptive. In actual fact expectations of a slower than usual Valentine’s Day is primarily the result of advertising budget cuts by enterprises that usually announce their wares and services the loudest.

However, even if on the quiet, many of them are offering promotional prices, goods and services to Valentine’s Day celebrants. At the other end of the spectrum are the classiest establishments who can afford to apply premium pricing – indeed need to do so to keep the size of the clientele to within the sheer capacity of the facility. Usually though premium pricing comes with premium packages; some top-class restaurants include a “complimentary” bottle of champagne for couples, the price however being embedded in everything else being ordered.

Some top tier hospitality destinations have deservedly become favourites among corporate Ghana’s A listers.

An example is the exquisite Tang Palace Hotel. Located at the posh Roman Ridge area of Accra, Tang Palace Hotel has proved to be loved by both recreational tourists who simply want to relax, and by corporate Ghana who have realized that it is one of the best places in Ghana’s capital city to organize corporate events.

This exquisitely designed hotel offers both Chinese and continental cuisine at its two restaurants. It also offers coffee, terrace and wine bars. Add to all these a fully equipped gym, a superbly maintained swimming pool, a business centre, conference facilities, internet/WIFI, and excellently appointed rooms and suites. Car hire services are also available.

Tang Palace is already one of the busiest hotels with regards to hosting corporate events, combining outstanding infrastructure with excellently trained staff. Consequently, it is one of the first places that come to mind when corporate Ghana’s chieftains want to take their spouses – and in some cases the whole family – out for a Valentine’s Day evening.

Another leading contender for best Valentine’s Day host is African Regent Hotel, also located in Accra’s most exclusive neighbourhood: Airport Residential Area. Here, one can get arguably the best cuisine in Ghana’s capital city, which is why it was conferred with an award as Banqueting and Restaurant of the Year for 2016 by the Ghana Hotel Association itself. Instructively it has thrice been voted Hotel of the Year at the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana Annual Marketing Performance Awards, in 2009, 2013 and 2014 respectively. The African design and décor that forms the architectural theme for this splendid hotel is as erotic as it is exotic and this is another reason why up market Valentine’s Day celebrants tend to prefer it over other top tier hotels in Accra too.

Another top choice is Alisa Swiss Spirit Hotel and this is for a special reason: in line with Switzerland’s reputation as the world’s leading chocolates maker, Alisa offers arguably the widest and best variety of chocolate- based desserts and beverages on offer in Accra.

The other major beneficiaries of Valentine’s Day in Ghana are the up–market retail shopping outlets, especially those in the various shopping centres that are springing up across the major urban centres in the country. For families in particular, Valentines Day is often commemorated with a ferocious shopping spree, particularly for clothes. (Downmarket less affluent shoppers sometimes get in on the act by buying sexually provocative lingerie in anticipation of impending activities during the night).

The main beneficiaries of shopping sprees are the best branded retail shops such as Melcom, Shoprite and the likes. However, there is usually enough shopping demand to go around, even to the small roadside retail shops.

Another Valentine’s Day has arrived and with it a surge in consumerism if only for a few intense hours.

On a lighter note though, social scientists point to yet another surge in service demand deriving from Valentine’s Day, but one that comes about nine months after the day itself – maternity services.

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