Christophe Noel is the general manager of Radisson Blu Hotel Ikeja, Lagos, he spoke on the offers of the 155 guestrooms hotel that has become noted for its premium offerings and hospitality business in Nigeria among others.
The hospitality industry was hard hit by the pandemic with its impact still being felt today. What has been your experience during and after the pandemic?
At first, it was challenging but we immediately faced the issues head-on. The restrictions placed on travel and stay-at-home orders by the authorities led to a sharp decline in our hotel occupancy and revenues. It created a labour crisis as we had to have reduced working hours for staff to stay afloat. It also created difficulty in our sector as the majority of our staff are in operational roles, making working from home/ remotely, challenging. We had to make substantial changes to our operations as regard to our business environment to ensure maximum safety for our employees and customers. Whilst the hospitality industry is slowly recovering, the pandemic highlighted to us, the importance of communication with every guest, team member and partner. We have learned to become more flexible in our approach, ensuring that we adapt, respond, and implement measures swiftly as we move forward.
How Did the Radisson Blu Lagos Ikeja Survive Covid19?
We are fortunate that as a hotel group, we went through a complete diagnostic of the company worldwide in 2017, and we put together a 5-year plan with concrete initiatives which included taking on significant investments, new brand architecture, new IT systems, new revenue management systems, and a new loyalty program. This helped us stay focused and afloat.
How has the economic situation affected the occupancy level of the hotel?
So far I cannot tell you that we have been badly affected. We have good occupancy.
What have you done to equip your staff to be more efficient to retain your market share?
Training is the main goal of the Radisson Hotel Group, to continuously train its staff. At our hotel, our people are our biggest asset, and we ensure their continuous development across all areas.
We offer continuous learning opportunities for our team through our Radisson Academy with customized training programs, from induction to leadership, right from day one. Through this training, our teams are equipped with specific programs to offer personalized services to our guests.
When guests come to the hotel, what should they expect?
We provide high-quality service and we make sure that every guest coming here leaves satisfied. Ours is a contemporary hotel situated in the heart of Lagos mainland with world-class amenities suitable for every guest including proximity to the local and international airports.
We have 155 rooms and they are over 45 square meters, so it is up to the normal standard for a five-star hotel. Amenities in our 155-room hotel include Iyeru Okin, our well-known all-day dining restaurant, Choco-Latte, our in-house coffee lounge, Cut Specialty Steakhouse is our fine dining restaurant, a relaxation spa named Amani, the R Bar for after-work hours and weekend hangouts, a well-equipped spa, fitness gym, outdoor pool area and unbeatable meeting and event facilities.
We have a large array of cuisines starting from African specialty, and continental cuisines, so we cover every nationality around the world.
What facilities stand out in the hotel?
We have one of the best spas in town. It will actually be difficult for you to book because it is so popular and the quality of the service is optimal.
What are the most critical needs in the Lagos hospitality scene?
Lagos is undoubtedly a world-class destination and arguably Africa’s biggest city. With the growing economy, Lagosians are known to be hardworking, vibrant, and happy people. It has beautiful beaches and sightseeing locations for tourists.
Above all, it has bustling energy like never seen elsewhere. Lagosians simply want more fun experiences and in fact, the recent stay-at-home period opened up its residents to looking inward for more exciting leisure experiences.
What are the challenges facing the hospitality business in Nigeria?
The average Nigerian customer is well traveled and well informed. Nigerians have a high standard for quality and do not settle for any less. As such, we are constantly upgrading and elevating our customer service to always deliver quality.
Many first-time guests from outside the country seem to have conflicting opinions about Nigeria. They always get pleasantly surprised when they arrive in the country and at our hotel. So we always aim to promote the best of Nigeria to both Nigerians and foreigners
How well would you say the hotel has met the expectations of its clientele?
I will say positively well. We are quite a hands-on team. In our hotel, we listen closely to our guests, noting and acting on their feedback. We then constantly measure the quality of service that we deliver to them and quickly respond to any issue raised.
What are the future plans for the hotel?
Our future plans are to remain optimistic and positive as we continue to put our customers first. We will continue to be flexible and make quick decisions as we look ahead to the future of the hospitality industry which will become stronger than ever.
How has competition impacted your business?
Competition is healthy, keeps you on your toes and makes you maintain a high level of standard. So for me, it is really healthy and I have no issues with competition. Our occupancy in our hotel still remains excellent. So we make sure that we do not lose any customers to any competitor.
Are there still opportunities for growth in the hospitality business in Ikeja and Lagos?
I think yes. More business and leisure travelers will seek out increased opportunities in our region and we must keep growing to meet up with future demands.
Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, situated in Ikeja GRA is one of the charming hospitality facilities with world-class amenities that give guests a satisfying feeling of being at home, away from home.
For people who experience the quality service you have, do they come back?
Definitely, yes! I am surprised at how guests are loyal to the hotel. Our number of repeated guests is massive. Before COVID – 19, I have guests who were coming back after two years since we last saw them. They are coming from the United Kingdom, America, Europe and other destinations.
We have also created a leisure guests segment to encourage guests to take advantage of the top-quality amenities in the hotel. During COVID – 19, many airlines were not operating and people could not travel around the world. So people who could not travel were coming in and enjoying the facility of the hotel. So we created the leisure segment.
How has the emerging competition affected your operations?
I think every hotel has its unique services/offerings. Competition can also have its merits. In our sector, it has opened us up to more inquiries from customers seeking our unique and personalized services.