Despite the huge potentials in the hospitality sector of the tourism industry, the under performing nature of the sector has continued to be a source of worry to stakeholders. In this interview with Gabriel Olawale, the General Manager of Southern Sun Hotel, Mr. Mark Loxley spoke on how they are navigating through the present economic recession in the country.
ON the business environment now.
I commend the Federal Government for creating friendly business environment especially the ongoing transformation at the airport. During a conversation with one of our guests from the United Kingdom, she expressed her pleasure with the way and manner people at the airport carried out their operations.
She told me that when she got to the airport her luggage was not manually checked as against previous experience. Cleanliness and politeness has really improved.
Another thing was visa on arrival, the ability to gain access into the country has also improved. If you compared today with the last five or 10 years, there has been tremendous improvement, and it is a continuous focus.
On the secret of the hotel’s success
Training is the cornerstone of any good management practice, it is important to keep some level of stimulation and make sure that you practise some level of flexibility and provide training so that people can progress and keep the business strong. Another thing is maintenance of good relationship with guest.
In the last 13 months despite the economic challenges, we did not engage in any retrenchment of staff. The reason is because it is very important for the staff to have some sense of security, once the peace of mind is assured they can focus on the task at hand. On a frequent basis we keep analyzing where we are in relationship with market as to remain competitive.
On the business environment in the last one year
In terms of business, it has been fluctuating between 45 and 55 percent, whereas most hotels will like to be within 60 to 75 percent. We experience domestic inflation beyond 18 percent which is now within 16.1 percent and this can still be regarded as high.
Bank loan as we all know is still very high in term of interest rate coupled with dollar instability which has made it difficult for a lot of businesses to obtain foreign exchange.
On how they have been coping
The challenge has made it important for us to renegotiate some service contract and ensure that suppliers are honest in terms of value for money. We all understand that price of many commodities has gone up and we need to be very careful in passing it down to the customer considering the competitive nature of the market.
We ensured that the current economic situation did not affect our standard because it is a reputation that we have built in the last nine years and we understand the need to maintain it.