The Hotel Expo Nigeria was held over two days last week in Lagos, with experts in the field sharing their views alongside exhibitors who showcased at the Landmark Centre, Victoria Island.
Billed to be an annual event with the aim of creating networking, brand exposure and insights to the latest trends in the sector, the two-day event put together by Milewave Communications and sponsored by Access Bank drew brands and stakeholders such as Sheraton, MP Hotels (owners of Epe Resort), BON Hotels and Air Namibia.
Also exhibiting were brands in allied industries like Strider Woods, Wood Styles Furniture, Master Furniture, E’Sorae Luxury, Fu Energy, Cocoma Kitchen and Monin who made sure participants and guests were fuelled with free cocktails over the course of the event.
The conference sessions at the expo were enlightening, starting with a presentation by the spokesman of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Ekpedeme King.
Other industry experts at various sessions which focused on the prospects, challenges and economic opportunities available to stakeholders in the hospitality sector included, Nnazilim Egbuonu, the Co-founder of Travel Beta, Omolara Adagunodo, MD of Jumia Travel and Nishita Devanand of Savoir Faire Hospitality.
Others were Michael Williams, the head of marketing at EbonyLife Media, Salome Danjuma, Business Development Manager of Wheatbaker Hotel, Eric Mekwuye the CEO of HoRECABB Mentors, a hospitality business school in Lagos, Toni Ukackukwu, an aviation consultant and Justina Ovat, founder of Calabar Hospitality House Limited.
Some conclusions from the panel sessions included the need to eliminate multiple taxes and levies which hamper entrepreneurs in the hospitality business; the need for government to create an enabling environment to thrive, including the creation of a tourism ministry; and the need for government to ensure that experts – rather than political cronies – are put in charge of ministries and agencies overseeing tourism and hospitality.
Hospitality entrepreneurs were also advised to only employ those that have a passion for hospitality and thereafter train them to international standards.
It was also deemed important for owners and managers to infuse Nigerian culture into hospitality outlets – while still maintaining world class standards – to give them a distinctly Nigerian feel that would appeal to more international guests. One of the ways to achieve this is for international brands in Nigeria to employ indigenous general managers, a panellist opined.