He has a wide range of experience in the hospitality sector of the tourism industry. These experiences were garnered over a period of time working at top management level in hotels in this country. His name is Victor Ola Kayode. He is very much active in the Hotel & Catering Institutes.
In this interview, he shares his views on the misconceptions that the hospitality industry is booming with foreign investment, training, and hotel registrations in the country. Here is an excerpt.
On the assessment of the hospitality industry in Nigeria
The hospitality sector in Nigeria is actually at the Stater level, so far we cannot even say we are there yet, there is still little development coming in. However, the key issue is that we are having more of the importation rather than growing homely, as of now we have all the multinationals who are making all the efforts and the money but at the local level there is a need for a big change.
On the belief that foreigners are investing in the hospitality sector
Thatâ€™s actually the major misconception in the industry, but, the multinationals who are coming into Nigeria currently donâ€™t invest any thing in the hospitality industry.
They actually come in as expatriates as managers to manage Nigerian properties, collect their money and go back. But what we are saying is that those multinationals should actually establish firm rootsÂ in Nigeria where they would have structures in Nigeria as their own,Â train Nigerians and then impact good hospitality culture on the people they have.
It is not enough to for you to just bring in your foreign expatriates, you manage theÂ property and then you go back with all your money.
As of today, Sheraton that came into this country at the earlier stages does not have an office neither Hilton has an office, their placesÂ are those hotels they are managing,Â even Le Meridian then now thatâ€™sÂ Eko Hotel they donâ€™t have offices of their own, but what we are saying is that those organizations should have established structures on ground through which Nigerians can key into and grow.
The multinational, IÂ repeat, did not bring a kobo to this country.Â The Protea,Â they come in here with their portfolio they take over these properties, manage it with their people even when some of them are not qualified, they collect their management fee, commission and every thing and take it to their country to develop them, that is the way it is.
On how to get back indigenous hotel management companies like the Arewa hotels
Development takes conscious efforts, if you donâ€™t make conscious effort to develop you can hardly develop. The truth of the matter is just like a baby, when you nurture your baby it grows, when it grows, it starts to procreate.
Most of these older organizations,Â there was hardly anyone that was nurtured, most of them were established by government, you talk about Nigerian hotels, talk about Arewa hotels and so on, most of them were government-owned-hotel, they hadÂ very good strictures, but unfortunately the government machinery and bureaucracy stepped in and destroyed them, coupled with the issue of privatization they sold them to the highest bidders. So the legacy left behind by themÂ wasÂ destroyed so Nigerians areÂ left at the mercy of those multinationals or the private owners who are more interested in making money than developing the industry.
On the issue of training in the hospitality sector
Well good that is actually where the impact of the Nigerian Hotels and Catering institute, the professional body should step in. To a large extent we have polytechnics and universities offering hospitality courses now.
Either tourism, hotel management, catering and so on, but the truth of the matter is that most of the courses wereÂ really not aligned with what the industry requires, so there is surely a vacuum left for the professional body to take over.
However I know that the Nigerian Hotel and Catering Institute are packaging some training programme which we expect the proprietors and operators to key into. ThereÂ is a need for the establishment of a private sector led, not a government led hospitality academies.
On whatÂ happened to the government led training institutes
As a matter of fact the government institute was not set up for training high-level manpower that is management level which is the point where the foreigners come.
AnÂ HNDÂ graduate in hotel management or a Bsc holder in hotel managementÂ should not be talking about carrying plates, pots and â€”he should be talking about other fundamental issues that surround human nature, at that point in time he should be talking about strategic management,Â psychology, human relations, planing, marketing, food and beverages control, food and beverages operation, food and beverages management these are the things he should be talking about.
But in the schools we have much of the theory, which doesnâ€™t work, so it simply means that, there should be an organization when graduate finishes school after NYSC just like law school they should spend another one year to preparing them for the industry, at that point in time we can now have what we call industry fit in a candidate,Â that is one of the reasons why (NIHOTOUR) was set up.
Ordinarily NIHOTOURÂ was not setup for that role to a large extent because of the death of crafts men in the industry ILO in collaboration with federal government set up (NIHOTOUR) then to run a sort of crash programme to be able to train the rank and filesÂ forÂ the industry, they are not training managers.
At the level of ranks and files,Â the catering schools, the private teaching school, the technical colleges offering catering and so on they are doing well. But we are talking at the level of management, at the level of management,Â the Nigerian schools are not there at all and NIHOTOURÂ cannot fit into that bill. Because we are talking off an institute that will bake graduates.