Only superior service can sustain hospitality business in Nigeria, says Itawa

Management, board members and shareholders of Capital Hotels Plc cutting the cake at the AGM meeting in Abuja.

Management, board members and shareholders of Capital Hotels Plc cutting the cake at the AGM meeting in Abuja.

As the country undergoes harsh economic reality, the hospitality industry is not left out. In fact, hospitality and tourism business could be considered one of the major indicators of the economic environment of the nation.

In spite of the challenge however, facilities that provide quality services to customers and guests are likely to survive the weather. That was the submission of the General Manager, Capital Hotels Plc, owner of Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Abuja, Mr. Robert Itawa.

The G.M, who spoke to The Guardian at the just held 35th Annual General Meeting of the organisation, said, though the economic environment was hostile to business, Capital Hotels Plc has been able to sail as a result of the superior services it offered customers.

Itawa further described the hospitality business within the past one year as a very trying period for hotel owners and managers in the country, given the changes in the socio-economic environment.

“Because of our superior service, special training to staff and the special location we have in the industry, we have been able to hold ours and even improved on our performance against the previous year.

According to him, the company has declared an annual turnover of N4.69 billion for the year ending December 3, 2015. This figure, he stated, marked a 3.08 per cent increase higher than that of 2014, which was put at N4.55 billion.The chairman, Capital Hotels Plc, Goodie Ibru, who declared the figure, also announced a 99.74 per cent increase in profit after tax, which brought the figure to N492.26 million as against N246.45 million recorded in the previous year.

For the GM Itawa, the profit made in the year under review was a result of the company’s ability to surpass expectations to guests and customers.
“We have catchment members and we know that by giving them superior service, and by attending to their needs at every point in time, they will always come back and that is what we can attribute our level of attainment to.”

In terms of tourists inflow however, the G.M expressed worries that the security situation across the country has remained the greatest challenge to the industry.

“The way it is communicated to the outside would does not help issues. We in Nigeria must tell our positive stories to the outside world. As we speak, the outside world tells only one story – that Nigeria is not secured, that it is very bad and that people are dying everyday.

“But right here in the country, we have some good components. It is not everything that is bad. So, it is our own duty to tell the world that things are good here.

“If we can repackage the issue of security, the influx will improve but right now, we have not been able to package it correctly and the level of influx is low.”

He informed shareholders of the management and board’s efforts to enhance the interior of the hotels, which he said was responsible for the business success recorded in the financial year under review.

“We are not resting, this year alone, we have spent over N500 million to touch the interior and in addition, we are earmarking about N7 billion to touch one of the towers and give it a new lease, a five star status. So, we are reinvesting our money daily so that every customer and guest that enters the hotel will have value for money,” the GM added.”

On the issue of Corporate Social Responsibility, Itawa informed that the hotels have always given back to the society. He noted that aside the conventional targets, which include touching the lives of the less privileged and talking to schools, they have engaged in environmental sanitation exercise for improved wellbeing of the people.

“We try to enlighten the people on the relationship between dirty environment and diseases – that health is wealth and that there are five dimension to wellbeing. “These include being healthy. When you are healthy, then, you are wealthy, when you are wealthy, you will be able to love your environment and the people around you. When you love these people, you move to the next level which is a joyful heart and from that, you will be spiritual. When you add all these, we call it the state of ‘Eldorado’ and that is what we practice in this hotel,” he said

For the shareholders, the G.M assurance that the facility would be enhanced to have a ‘Capital’ appreciation.“We will also enhance it so that cash flow can generate dividend for them.

For customers and guests however, “we are promising greater experience so that they can have value for the money spent in the hotel”.
Admonishing fellow operators in the industry on how to survive the present econimic challenges, the GM urged them to engage in a public/private partnership with stakeholders.

“This is because one of the greatest challenges we have in our environment is that of infrastructure. Infrastructure is very low and everyone provides for himself but if we engage PPP, we would be able to do turnaround maintenance of our respective facilities.

“In other countries where hotels only provide some specific services government and well meaning investors provide the rest, they are able to put other infrastructure such as water, security and others in place.

“Once that is done, we would be able to progress; but right now, one needs to be much more focused and have a lot of financial prudence to be able to manage the little you have in order to provide service to the cutomers.”

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