L-R: MD/CEO Wakanow, Obinna Ekezie; CEO, Food Fashion Fusion, Nkem Odewunmi; Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation,Sally Mbanefo; Chief Brand and Marketing Officer, Swiss Education Group, Benoit Samson and CEO, No Surprises Events, Funmi Victor-Okigbo

Stories by Demola Ojo

A week ago, the Swiss Education Group held its first African Hospitality Workshop in Lagos. The event was targeted at presenting the opportunities in the hospitality industry to young Nigerians starting out in life or considering a change in career.

Sharing their experiences and insights with a host of Nigerians aspiring towards a career in the hospitality industry were Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Sally Mbanefo; CEO of Wakanow, Obinna Ekezie; CEO No Surprises Events, Funmi Victor-Okigbo; CEO Food Fashion Fusion, Nkem Odewunmi; Lead Researcher, The W Hospitality Group, Belinda Nwosu and Chief Brand and Marketing Officer, Swiss Education Group, Benoit Samson.

During the event, Samson expressed confidence in the potential of Nigerian students based on his experience with Nigerian Alumni from the SEG, hence the push to make the opportunity available to even more Nigerians.

“We would like to see what we can develop in Nigeria and ensure they have a better opportunity for tomorrow and all the students and potential people we met today are able to receive the great education,” Samson said in heavily-accented English.

Samson gave tips on how to get ahead in the hospitality business and also expressed his appreciation for the warm reception he was given at the Nigerian Embassy as well as the airport upon arrival.

Mbanefo, delivered an address harping on the important role the hospitality sector can play in Nigeria, especially as a major employer of labour. She commended the Nigerian entertainment industry for exporting Nigerian culture through passion, which she mentioned as an important trait in the hospitality industry.

She also stated that it was imperative for tourism and hospitality to be integrated fully into the school curriculum in Nigeria.

According to Ekezie, who was one of the panellists giving tips, “You need to have passion and you should believe you want to be the best,” he said. “If you want to make money, then create value. You should ask, ‘what is this idea worth and how much will people be willing to pay for it?’”

One of the panellists at the event was Kushal Dutta of Jovago. He stressed the importance of integrity in any business endeavour. “Getting a good idea is one thing but you also have to credible because investors don’t just invest in the idea, they invest also in the person behind it,” he explained.

Apart from getting to learn about business opportunities in tourism, possible challenges and how to access world-class education opportunities in tourism and hospitality, participants also got the opportunity of one-on-one interaction with the panellists.