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Need to go hospitality business

The hospitality business in Nigeria is doing well and if investors looking for promising areas to invest in should take a look at this sector, they will not regret it.

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Q1 2013 Business Confidence Index outcome presented by Vincent Nwani, LCCI’s director of Research and Advocacy, showed that apart from hotel, telecoms/IT, oil and gas and the finance sector, business executives in the extractive, processing and trade sectors posted a staggering negative business expectation. That is a plus for the hospitality business.

Again, Paul Murry, hotelier and an international hospitality consultant working at Hawthorn Suites, Abuja, not too long ago, said hospitality business in Nigeria currently has one of the highest growth potential in Africa, as it is increasingly becoming a major business destination for many who see the viability of Africa’s most populous nation. Murry said “I see a bright future for the hospitality industry in Nigeria, despite the challenges of power supply, insecurity, manpower shortage and the infrastructural deficit in the country. As a professional hotelier, who has been working in Africa for over 28 years, I have worked in eight different African countries and served under four presidents in Africa. The latest hotel that I did was in Lubumbashi for President Joseph Kabila, a Sheraton Hotel of 220 bedrooms which was completely revamped to make a five-star hotel.

Hotel business however should not be limited to big hotels like the Sheratons and the Transcorp Hiltons of this world. Investors should be looking at investing in small hotels of between 25- 50 rooms – hotels that can serve the needs of the average business executives and the middle class. In cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Kano, Maiduguri, Benin, Warri and some others across the country, we need more such hotels. They should be small but must have required facilities like air conditioners, internet facilities, and satellite TV receiving system. These obtain outside our shores.

During my recent trip to Brussels for instance, my hosts fixed me up in a 26-room hotel located at the heart of the town, a high brow area, and the rate per night was 90 Euros (N19080). It was four minutes walking distance to the venue of the ACP conference, the reason for my trip. The hotel, Hotel Lambeau operated lean: It was just bread and breakfast; all it had as staff was a desk person, one or two cleaners, probably outsources and a desk person.

You may even not operate a hospitality business from a whole building. It can be a part of your apartment set apart for such service – bed and breakfast too; or just bed. Who says this is not a way to make extra income?

And talking about outsourcing, this strategy makes it easier to do the business for those who lack the expertise. Outsourcing, which is contracting with another company or person to do a particular function, is seen as a great job creator that Nigeria should not toy with. Obiora Madu, vice president of AOPN, in an a question and answer session with BusinessDay said outsourcing is huge business and can create over 750,000 jobs in Nigeria in the next one year if properly organised. He argued, we need to build capacity. We need to do something to make the destination attractive. We have the graduates, but a lot of them are not trained for outsourcing. We need infrastructure.

The house-keeping aspect of the business, the food supplies, security, etc can be outsourced. In fact, the entire management of the business can be outsourced.

In case you think outsourcing is not the culture of small businesses, you are wrong. Joanna L. Krotz of Microsoft Business for Small and Midsize companies has the answer. According to her, small businesses can benefit from outsourcing too. More and more of them are turning over parts of their operations to outside experts, allowing owners to focus on critical needs and growth, she says.

She explains: “Following the trend of larger companies, small-business owners are outsourcing a range of services, from HR to finance and accounting to customer services. But the outsourcing process requires some time and investment to find the right vendor, build a working relationship, and allow your employees to adjust.”

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