interviewBy Jimoh Babatunde
The General Manager of Lagos Airport Hotel, Kayode Adenigba, is a seasoned administrator and hotelier. In this interview, he shares his thoughts on the country's hospitality industry as well as the gains and the challenges of hospitality industry. Here is an excerpt.
On the hotel's background and present ownership
The Hotel is a subsidiary of Odu'a Investment Company Limited and was incorporated in 1961, having started business as an owner-managed hotel with 5 rooms in 1942 under the name "Grand Hotel Lagos".
It was renamed "Ikeja Arms Inn" in 1956 under the ownership and management of Mr. Joseph Harold, a Briton. The present owner bought the company through the Western Region Government in 1959. Odu'a Investment Company Limited is owned by five states namely; Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti.
On the hotel's patronage judging from the prevailing global economic crunch
Rating hotel patronage is relative but I must add that leading hospitality companies with international affiliation ratings thrive more and their patronage are higher. Hospitality outfits in this category are more likely to perform better than those without it especially in a country like Nigeria.
The global economic crunch would have had its effect on local hotels but things appear to be improving now and patronage is getting better.
Here we have 277 rooms and occupancy figure is not static. Hotels experience seasonal patronage as well. There is time for dull business and period that hotel could work round the clock.
On the challenges of new hotels springing up day by day
Lagos Airport Hotel cannot feel threatened because it is on its own class and doing all it could to remain the hotel of choice.
The many years of existence has brought about tremendous goodwill. The space, the location and the personalized services are also added advantages.
No hotel does the personalized services better than we do. You know the ways Africans express friendliness. Their hospitality nature is not cosmetic.
Once an African is your friend, he shows it and would do all to express it. That's our nature. Hospitality is natural to us, we do not feign it. We act it.
The security of our environment is another selling point. You cannot beat that. We are the most secured and we can beat our chest. When you are with us, you can sleep with your eyes closed, so we don't feel threatened.
Other new hotels are coming to learn the way we do it, they copy us and steal our operational system modalities.
They poach and make entreaties to some of our staff for possible recruitment. What we have they do not have and I am bold to say that no other hotel in Lagos or its environment has the type of our security, the ambience that makes you express yourself, the space for freedom and our personalized services that is real and professional.
So we cannot feel threatened. It only behoves that we must constantly re-strategize and renew our facilities to constantly meet and exceed the expectation of our discerning customers.
On what they are you doing to improve services
What we are doing is not just to improve on our services to clients, we are committed to repositioning the hotel and remain the hospitality leader in Nigeria. We are already renovating and re-modelling the hotel rooms and we have gone far in this effort which ultimately will lead to growth and higher productivity.
On investment in hospitality in Nigeria
Investing in hotel business in Nigeria is a wise investment. It is a business venture which has been found to be lucrative.
It is a money spinner as more and more people are desiring leisure and comfort. Business people have seen the hotel as the best place for business rendezvous that could offer concentration for meaningful business discussions.
Many homes depend on generators to generate electricity. The attendant cost could be unbearable at times, but patronizing the hotel will offer all you may desire at shared cost.
You only need to pay for a room and get constant electricity, the ambience and so on. All these make people have preference for hotel.
The population will continue to grow, middle class will continue to emerge and the upper class will also desire more comfort and the best place for all to fulfill their desires and have comfort is the hotel.
On challenges facing the hotel industry in Nigeria
There are multi-various infrastructural challenges facing hotels today in Nigeria. Electricity is the major one. It erodes the profit margin and makes the hotel tariff to be high.
We have four working and effective generators. We expend a lot on those generators at least to maintain them and this is affecting our bottom line. Diesel consumption is a different ball game. Its price varies everyday, its cost is high and it affects the hotel profitability. In short, power supply is one of the banes for hotel business survival.
Customers also want to enjoy quality and efficient facilities and that calls to question the issue of local content. Majorly, imported items have edge over the local ones. To me, it gives a lot of concern.
Also is the maintenance issue. You must always renew your facilities otherwise; you wake up one day and find that your property is aground, from plumbing to electrical and even the operatives. But all these can be surmounted with quality management. e that our consumables are the best for the human system.
Security is paramount to hotel business success. With that realization, we have harmonized the security arrangement with that of our vast land such that the large expanse of land is more of an advantage, rather than disadvantage.
We have engaged the services of a professional security outfit to take care of the security issue since it is not our core business. We get the best from that partnership and we are proud to flaunt our security system as a selling point.
On the hotel's selling points
Lagos Airport Hotel stands out because of its age, location and ownership structure. The staff are warm and professional in approaches. As said earlier, personalized service is one of the hallmarks of our services.