INTERVIEW: “Have a passion for service and to exceed guests expectations” – Ubutu

In this exclusive interview with Mr. Peter Ubutu, Operations Manager for Citiheight Hotel, he sheds light on the hotel and tourism landscape in Nigeria, exceeding customers (guests) expectations and qualities/skills needed to excel in the industry. Enjoy.

What is unique about CitiHeight Hotel?

As a Hotel Operations Manager, Mr Peter Ubutu generally overseas the entire operations of the hotel, which include the sales and finance operations, food and beverages department, public relations and the creation and supervision of employee roasters and work schedules, amongst other functions. A mixture of guests from different parts of the country and even overseas, grace the Citiheight hotel, and as the operations manager, he ensures that all within the hotel works efficiently to meet the needs of each guest. The hotel itself is equipped with top-of-the-line and state-of-the-art facilities, some of which include cozy and well air-conditioned rooms, 24/7 internet access, reliable power supply, a swimming pool, restaurant and bar, a gym and even a spa. These facilities provide exciting activities for guests to engage in at their leisure times, and to top is all, the hotel offers a complementary buffet breakfast for guests to savour and enjoy, either before, after or as they engage in these exciting and fun activities.

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Tips on Giving Customers a Memorable Experience

“As a hotel administrator, in your service to clients, you cannot leave anything to chance,” says Mr Peter when asked about what makes Citiheight hotel’s service unique, and in that statement is a very useful tip for students and upcoming hotel administrators to take note of. “It is important to try to give a very memorable experience to guests by way of quality service”, he continued and gave an example of how he went above and beyond to service the need of a guest one fateful night.

The guest desperately needed his medication, and because it was night time, there was no pharmacy open to provide the needed medicine. Mr Peter went beyond the call of duty and leveraged on his relationship with one of the major pharmacy operators in Nigeria to get the pharmacy open at night and purchase the needed medication for the guest. To paraphrase his exact words, from that night, that guest became a loyal patron of the hotel. This willingness to not leave anything to chance, to go above and beyond to meet the needs of guests with exceptional friendliness, and to provide superb luxury facilities to guests is what Mr Peter believes makes Citiheight hotel unique compared to other hotels.

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Qualities of a Good Hotel Administrator

Additionally, Mr. Peter Ubutu advised students and upcoming hotel administrators to work on having excellent human relations and to ensure they remain truthful to guests and employees at all times. He added that an impeccable dress sense is also necessary to make a good impression because ‘you dress the way you want to be addressed’. For him, it is also important to be humble, regardless of your age, so you will be able to relate with people well and properly understand their needs.

Conclusively

Moving on to what his opinion on the Lagos experience is, Mr Peter describes it as fantastic, exciting and dynamic with a great nightlife and very good food. It is an experience he believes guests to Lagos will fully enjoy.

Finally for fun, Mr Peter likes to meet and greet. This manifests in how he is always eager to meet guests, talk to them to gauge their needs, understand them and effectively meet these needs. He also likes to read in his spare time and is currently taking courses on LinkedIn to enhance his organizational and managerial skills. The top tourist destinations in Lagos that he recommends for visitation include the beach, Onikan Museum, the Oba’s Palace, Nike Art Gallery, Kalakuta House and the Mall.

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2017: Tourism’s Direct Contribution to Nigeria’s GDP Yet to Rise in 4th Quarter as Forecast Indicated

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At the beginning of this year (2017), Nigeria was deeply soaked in the dirty waters of recession occasioned by the fall in Naira value, dwindling prices of petroleum products and of course, corruption. The country’s economy was held hostage as it were. Everyone felt the pang of distress – including the unborn babies, as many mothers stayed on pregnancy prevention pills to prevent delivering newborns into such a pathetic state of distress.

Eventually, the pains eased out but not without teaching us a vital lesson: complete reliance on oil as our only export will continue to plunge the economy and everything else that hinges on it into destruction; hence, the need to diversify. The recession continued to tiptoe into the 4th quarter of the year before we were dimly bailed out of the unfriendly situation. And gradually, things started picking up, albeit slowly.

Meanwhile, you’d recall that experts across a plethora of disciplines offered suggestions on how the government can pull the economy out of recession through diversification. Many of these recommendations tilted towards developing other sectors that have potential for growth – sectors that had long been abandoned or relegated because they were perceived to lack the capacity to be as buoyant as the oil sector. Such sectors included Agriculture, Hospitality & Tourism, SMEs, etc. So the government started adopting some of these recommendations.

The Ministry of Information and Culture, led by Alh. Lai Mohammed swung into action by developing a blueprint on how government can invest in the tourism sector to boost its growth. The minister was pregnant with many viable ideas. Consequently, be orchestrated several partnerships with independent tourism bodies with the aim of turning the sector into a revenue generating business. One of those partnerships included the world apex tourism body, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) providing capacity development for Nigerian tourism personnel on how to grow the sector into something viable.

While the world is waiting for these laudable efforts to yield bountiful results which of course would take some time, it is important to take a retrospective look at some of the interesting predictions of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in 2016 about what the direct & total contributions of Travel & Tourism to the country’s GDP would be by end of 2017. But first, let us attempt to explain the difference between Direct and Total contributions as used in the report.

Direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP reflects the ‘internal’ spending on Travel & Tourism (total spending within a particular country on Travel & Tourism by residents and non-residents for business and leisure purposes) as well as government ‘individual’ spending – spending by government on Travel & Tourism services directly linked to visitors, such as cultural (e.g. museums) or recreational (e.g. national parks). The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP is calculated to be consistent with the output, as expressed in National Accounting of tourism-characteristic sectors such as hotels, airlines, airports, travel agents and leisure and recreation services that deal directly with tourists. The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP is calculated from total internal spending by ‘netting out’ the purchases made by the different tourism sectors.

On the other hand, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism includes its ‘wider impacts’ (i.e. the indirect and induced impacts) on the economy. The ‘indirect’ contribution includes the GDP and jobs supported by: Travel & Tourism investment spending – an important aspect of both current and future activity that includes investment activity such as the purchase of new aircraft and construction of new hotels; government ‘collective’ spending, which helps Travel & Tourism activity in many different ways as it is made on behalf of the ‘community at large’ – e.g. tourism marketing and promotion, aviation, administration, security services, resort area security services, resort area sanitation services, etc; domestic purchases of goods and services by the sectors dealing directly with tourists – including, for example, purchases of food and cleaning services by hotels, of fuel and catering services by airlines, and IT services by travel agents.

As at 2016, direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was NGN1,861.4bn (1.7% of GDP) but this was forecast to rise by 1.1% to NGN1,881.1bn in 2017. But the figures presented in the WTTC 2017 report are proof that not so much contribution from the sector has reflected on the economy. In the last 10 months, no significant direct contribution from Travel & Tourism to the country’s GDP. For instance, its contribution to the whole economy GDP still remains at 1.7%, same as it was in 2016. A review of tourism’s impact on the country’s GDP in the last 10 years (2007 – 2017) shows that its impact was at all time high in 2008, having contributed 2.4% to the GDP. Since 2008, its impact has been fluctuating between 1.8% and 1.5%.

 

FOUR WAYS TO TRAVEL SMARTLY IN NIGERIA

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Travelling doesn’t have to be such an expensive and somewhat inconvenient endeavor. It doesn’t have to be an endeavor that’s hard on your finances and lifestyle.  There are ways to make the most of your travelling experience and reduce its pressure on your finances and lifestyle. We share four ways to travel smartly in Nigeria.

  1. Choose Your Means of Transport Wisely

Constantly check for the fares of different legitimate airlines and transport companies; check for their specific discount periods and discount schemes that will be of benefit to you in budgeting and planning for your travel with your decided mode of transportation. This can help maximize your travel experience. Registering on travel and hotel booking portals like Jumia Travel can help with this. You can take advantage of special travel smart deals to save yourself some more money.

2. Organize Your Travel Documents Well

Ensure all your travel documents are in place and are easily accessible, so you don’t have to waste time trying to find them at crucial times. This sort of oversight can end up either delaying your journey or making it entirely impossible. Besides, you’ll save yourself the stress of having to deal with officials that might get hostile or even embarrassing when this happens.

3. Pack Lightly

This can help you avoid excess luggage charges and save you from spending extra money on your travel. Just pack necessary items that can make your travel more convenient and leave behind the rest. Packing with purpose can go a long way in helping you achieve this. Pack with your location in mind and avoid packing things that aren’t versatile.

4. Plan Your Trips

Regardless of it’s a business trip or vacation, you should always endeavor to plan for your travel. From budgeting your travel expenses before and during the trip to the exact kind of hotel or accommodation you intend to stay in, and the means of transport you intent to use at your travel destination. If it’s an Uber you intend to use, plan for it; if taking the bus will be cheaper, plan for it. Plan every little detail of your trip to the best of your ability. Yes things happen, and you might ultimately not be able to execute your entire plan but it will at least keep you relatively in control of your travel experience and help you reduce and very possibly avoid excess and unexpected costs.