Sandra Ogbahor has identified capacity building for performance enhancement and personnel competence as key and veritable tools to enhance the success and vibrancy of a hospitality industry in Nigeria and anywhere else in the world.
The tourism and hospitality guru made the professional assertion at her Ibadan office on Saturday, April 22, 2023 during a parley with some selected travels and tourism journalists at the ancient city.
Sandra who is the General Manager of BON Hotel Nest Ibadan, Oyo State maintained that a 21st century hotel business must always be equipped with a flawless toolbox designed to drive productivity, efficiency and not leaving behind customers’ satisfaction.
She said; “Every business involves risks. And, it is uncertain when you hit the downfall but there are always workable strategies to adopt, so as to avoid failures no matter how insurmountable they seem to be, putting into account threats being posed by the enabling environment and sometimes the personnel involved or the business owners themselves.
“From welcoming guests to observing a low influx, you never know where you might have taken the wrong path. And, such a breakdown, smashes you both ways mentally and financially. So, to keep you well prepared and save your hotel business from failing, there are several factors involved that can turn you from a loss-making
company to a profitable one, provided the rules are jealously followed.” she explained.
In her response to the question on how the challenge of more expenses and less income could be mitigated, Sandra in her expert remarks stated: “I always tell investors that before you reach a point where it all seems out of motion; an expert must always be engaged to correct the wrong for you and make the business grow without harming the revenue projection. I must emphasize that hotel business requires clear cut expertise because it is such ingenious advice that will definitely help investors in hospitality industry to understand the factors that can head them to closure or factors that will make them succeed in the nick of time.
“When your expenses exceed the income, it is natural that your business will suffer from a loss. And this is one of the primary reasons why hotel businesses fail. Thus, make sure to reduce your costs and hike your profits before it’s too late. For a hotel, everything revolves around guests. They are the reason why your business exists. So, if you observe low occupancy even during the peak seasons, then make sure you start implementing strategies to attract more guests.
“Additionally, bad customer service comes with dangerous side effects on hospitality business. If you come across any negative reviews, start applying strategies to improve your customer experience. In case you fail to do so, it will harm your hotel’s reputation; leaving a bad impression on your future visitors.”
While giving insights on the place of technology in hotel business, she stressed that it helps to sustain higher yields of return on investment.
Her words: “I don’t want to bore you with so much explanations, but let me add that technology simplifies your hotel’s complex operations, but make sure you are getting enough ROI from it. It is very important to note that expensive doesn’t mean excellent. So, adopt a solution that delivers you the right returns and better guest experiences.
“Similarly, market conditions are unpredictable and you have no control over them. But you should always have a strategy for the worst times. Technology and trends look fresh until they are not outdated. Likewise, the hospitality industry witnesses various trends with rising guest expectations every day. And, if you fail to adopt those, they’d choose your competitors over you. Each of these and several other reasons can largely affect your business’s growth. If you’re not taking a proactive approach to controlling your expenses, your hotel will not generate higher profits. So, better late than never, be well prepared to take the right steps in advance.
Reacting specifically to how to save hotel business from failing, Sandra added: “It’s always good to have a plan B when plan A doesn’t head in the right direction. Likewise, if your hotel is not achieving the desired goals, it’s time to adapt creative strategies and turn things around. It is advisable for investors to go low on marketing expenses. Marketing for your hotel business is surely going to give you better returns. But, when you are low on profits, this is one thing that you can consider skipping on. Instead, you can switch to no-cost marketing activities from paid ones (like ads).
“Also, consider targeting your audience directly from social media platforms. Join (suitable) groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Start posting about your offers, discounts, and the various facilities that you provide at your facility. I’m sure this will help you generate more business plus improve the brand awareness of your property.
“Another striking strategy is revamping your pricing and cancellation policies. Good pricing and flexible cancellation policies are always good deals for your guests. If you plan this right, what more would they want from you? Pricing involves a lot of factors. And, if you don’t want to lose your customers, it is necessary to set effective pricing strategies to enhance the overall profit of your business.
“All the more, ensure that your cancellation policies are in line with your hotel’s pricing. Because no guest would want to lose their money if they are unable to visit your hotel. These are very crucial elements that you should often track. Especially during an unprecedented crisis, at the time of festivals, events, long weekends, and on the whole.
She also indicated that taking ideas from hotel staff is equally essential adding that their views and suggestions will add value to the success of the business.
“When things get complicated, it becomes hard for you to come up with new ideas and draw a conclusion on the ongoing hurdles. Here’s where your hotel staff can be your best friend to help you stay afloat during tough times. Do consider their views and plan out new strategies. Because they are the ones who are actually on the frontend of your business. Further, if you deem it right, get in touch with industry experts to seek advice for your business growth.
“Let me also add before I forget that in optimizing your revenue, you can also take the advantage of underutilized spaces within in your facility. Look into every nook and corner of your hotel and find spaces that are not utilized or not used often. Using underutilized spaces to enhance your hotel’s revenue during your low-profit days can be a good way to earn a side income. Make use of such spaces for recreational activities that do not include much set-up costs. Namely – yoga, meditation, family gatherings, and such likes. However, these might not be a permanent set-up at your hotel but can work as a promotional strategy to meet your expenses.
“Similarly, you can host events and upsell services. Host events like music gigs, concerts, festivals, and parties, or collaborate with influencers. This can be a win-win strategy for both your hotel and its fame. Influencers often have a huge fan base that attracts more guests to your property through their presence. Besides, these events allow you to upsell your hotel services like hotel rooms, dine-in facilities, bars, etc. You can also offer combo deals at relatively low costs to draw your guests’ attention and thereby meet your business revenue.
“With proper planning, action, and a mix of smart spending with savings, you can flip the future of your hotel business from failing to prosper. Implementing these simple tactics will surely reduce your expenses and notice a good number of profits in the long run.
Sandra also appealed to stakeholders to also see training of staff as an important factor to deepen success rate of the business. According to her:
“It will also be ideal if industry investors can look up to institution like National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), by exploring the opportunities of training and courses that the institute offers, this can ultimately help to effectively and efficiently make the industry a 21st century investment friendly and employment providing sector.
“Meanwhile, with the new leadership in NIHOTOUR I have no doubt that the institute has the ability to deliver on its core mandate. NIHOTOUR as the nation’s apex tourism and hospitality institution has the capacity in my view to ensure high-quality training of personnel that conforms to international standards so as to achieve better service delivery in the industry in line with global best practice. When hoteliers key into intervention like this it will mean improved and better service delivery for the hospitality sector. Stakeholders, particularly in the organized private sector need to patronize courses and programs offered by the institute for improvement of professional practice and staff competence” she stated.