By Princewill Ekwujuru
The hospitality business in Nigeria is now peaking at N562 billion as at last year. This was disclosed by SlimTrader, West Africa Vocation Education, WAVE, a technology/e-commerce solution provider. In a chat with Vanguard, Femi Akinde, Managing Director, SlimTrader, said: “The Hospitality industry in Nigeria is worth approximately N562 billion ($3billion) in 2014 and still growing.
Akinde said Nigeria does not have enough hotels. “We just have 7,000 hotels for 70 million adults, excluding people coming into the country. If we consider the internal travels that happen in Nigeria, 7,000 hotels are probably not enough to accommodate all of the people that are looking for rooms.”
Nnenna Onyewuchi, a Board Member of WAVE, added, “I think hospitality business in Nigeria is in transition, I think the entrant of international brands have changed the game and I think that the Nigerian customers are beginning to demand a better, quality of service. I am certain that is why today, Nigerian customers are not ready to deal with any kind of service; they are demanding a better and courteous service.
“People in the hospitality business need a better quality employee; this is where WAVE comes in. It is not that you just need someone who can take an order and go, we also need someone who can talk to people, who is able to be pleasant, who is able to deal with difficult customers.”
What we are seeing is the formalisation of retail and an improvement of the customer service experience in general and across the board, it is causing people to demand for better customer service and that requires better customer service representatives. “As the Nigerian economy continues to grow and expand, we have seen a real growth in the formal retail business.” Especially in the hospitality business, hotels, restaurants and shops and all of these businesses need people on the customer service line.
“As these hotels and stores come up. What we find is that the young people in Nigeria just don’t have the requisite skills to do these jobs, so what you have is a poll of entry level front line retail jobs and then you have a poll of candidates who should be filling these jobs , but don’t have the skills.
“So what we have done is build a more employable poll of entry level young people in Nigeria, so that is what we have done, and so the training is on some soft skills, because these are front line things, its customer service, it’s about communication, problem solving, how do you deal with people, how do you manage your time, how do you manage difficult people, as well as more specific hot skills, that is the training we are doing today.”
“It is really about how do we help young people to be better prepared to get to the work place, how we get them ready to starting working on day one. How do we give them the skills to get a job and retain the job and get to the best part of their career?