• Friday, July 19, 2024
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It’s a hotel, stupid!


I sat in front of my meal pondering if at 9.30 pm I should be eating plantain, ketchup, and a miserly piece of crocker fish. I had ordered dinner at 6 pm. After prodding, reminders, and near tears from hunger, some waiter arrived at my door, a tray in hand and a stupid smile plastered on his face. His excuse for the delay was truly the most incredible I have heard in my travel around the world. Nigeria is truly an amazing country.

While I was brimming with anger and losing my steam, the waiter began to tell me a magical tale. How my plantain had been ready for 30 minutes but nobody remembered my room number. It was unbelievable.  Bizarre. The restaurant is beside the reception. How could they not remember my room? The time was 9.30 pm. Food was ridiculous. Please who eats Dodo and ketchup? But I was hungry and it was late and because I had no choice, I had a horrible dinner occasioned by poor customer service and idiocy. The taste of dodo and ketchup cannot be forgotten in a hurry. Yuk!

But here is the hospitality industry.  I had to be at a conference in one of Nigeria’s cities and I am wondering who picked this hotel. They forgot to give me soap and also forgot to give me a towel. When I was being checked in, the deodoriser was being deployed by the Porter. As I doubled down with my computer to do some work, I reached for my pack of complimentary tea pack and found a sachet of three in one coffee. So I called the reception. I think you forgot to put tea in my pack, I do not do coffee. I do not drink it, I told the receptionist. Oh ma, she said we only offer coffee. No matter how hard I explained that I do only tea, her retort was that they offer only coffee. I was at my wit’s end. And I had forgotten my personal pack of tea. A miserable me went to bed. But when I woke up I had no idea I would wait for breakfast for two hours and would not be offered tea because I had a complimentary pack in the night. Okay so before you tip over these things happen even in big hotels.

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So here we go. One of the biggest hotels in a truly big city in Nigeria had a fault in its bathroom for two days. In spite of the fact that I reported it, it was not fixed till I left. The phone in my room was not working and finally, although I was told that laundry was 24 hours, I was told by the person at the other end of the line in the laundry that the man who should switch on the steaming machine for ironing my dress (meant to be worn to a conference that morning) had not resumed at 8.15 a.m. I was beside myself. You do not even want to know how much was paid for this hotel. Staffs were forgetful.

I think those who enter the business of hospitality should understand that it is all about customer service.

Wake-up calls were missed and food was dastardly. I think those who enter the business of hospitality should understand that it is all about customer service. And that the rooms and service is paid for. Taking us for granted ruins a brand and word of mouth and Instagram feeds can bring down a brand. Training is critical. But I suspect staff of these profit making bodies are hired from farms or just called up from main roads, untrained and running around destroying our comforts.  When you see that dirty ugly-shirt wearing boy with sagging trousers in the lift with you. He is a member of the Yahoo boys with money and no manners walking tall our hospitality industries, living large, drinking hard, and ill-dressed. The hotels want the money. They don’t care about pedigree. That half-naked girl at the reception is a guest peddling prostitution. Some industry insiders say it’s good for business. How sad! I say to hotel owners. Do the needful or do we take our money elsewhere? Reputation is everything. A word is enough for the wise.