Akingbola: Hotel Owners Must Review their Business Plans

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The Managing Director/Principal Consultant, Anchor Point Hospitality, Olaolu Akingbola, in this interview speaks on the recovery path for the tourism and hospitality sector as well as plans to enter into the Nigerian market. Maduabuchi Ubani brings the excerpts:

Can you tell us about your operations at Anchor Point Hospitality?

Anchor Point Hospitality creates lasting impressions through innovation and originality. Our operations ideally are broken down into three major parts, each with a distinctive structure of tailored solutions unique to the market and the specific needs of our owners and developers. We offer a targeted approach to hotel development, providing would-be hotel owners with a comprehensive and robust approach to hotel development, with our core focus in the developmental stages being, the guest experience, investor returns, and a design that supports operational efficiencies, all of which are important considerations to support a responsible business engagement which guarantees investor returns and satisfaction. We also offer hotel management services. Anchor Point Hospitality is able and equipped to profitably manage the overall operational infrastructure of a branded or independent luxury hotel on behalf of owners and investors.

At Anchor Point Hospitality we believe in heartfelt service, attention to detail and the ability to create a personalised and local experience for our guests and patrons, which is the key to creating a sustainable brand identity. We also believe in financial responsibility which fosters profitable business practices, and ultimately in the development of human capital creating a fun and engaging workplace. As a third-party management company, our approach is a personalised and respectful one. The individual needs of each property in our management portfolio are taken into careful consideration and are critical in creating an effective partnership.

Anchor Point Hospitality’s flexibility is a company staple, prevalent across all segments of the business, but nowhere more significant than in the area of property management. Also, we offer Advisory services to hotel owners, we specialise in the provision of advisory services to the hotel, tourism and leisure industries, providing a full range of consultancy services to our clients who have investments in the sector, or who are looking to enter them through development, acquisition or by other means. In addition, we offer a comprehensive range of advisory services and solutions tailor-made and specific to each project and market location. We also assess the desired goals of our clients, prepare a tailored strategy, and efficiently execute our recommendations; which results in streamlined concepts that are local, improves hotel use, financial results, and overwhelming guest satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Is it mere coincidence that your company is entering into the Nigerian market at a time when hospitality players are taking cautious stands due to the pandemic. What are you seeing?

It is somewhat a coincidence that our market entry is aptly timed, I believe now is a time where hotel owners can benefit from the wide array of services we provide. The market requires hotel owners to reconsider business and commercial plans, as well as to re-evaluate daily operations, and the most important one being market positioning. So If you are an owner, asset manager, management company or operator and need short or long-term management support, we can assist with professional, low-key, non-disruptive, and non-intrusive in-depth reviews and assessments of your operations, revenue enhancement, marketing, market analysis, financial controls, food & beverage, and team-building concerns. We will prepare a clear, simple yet detailed brief with specific action plans for effective results or if you choose, we can implement the recommended solutions ourselves. Additionally, we can also provide short term or long term management services during a transition period such as this.

Why the Nigerian market?

Why not? the Nigerian market is rapidly growing and it’s projected to continue to grow, now 2020 may not be the best representation of this growth, but subsequent years will see significant growth in tourism receipts and domestic travel, with tourism accounting for about 5 percent of GDP, we want to be a resource to our clients to prepare them to take advantage of this projected growth using strategic analysis.

Your operations are centred in the United States and West Africa, can you tell us your success stories in the various markets where you operate.

Anchor Point Hospitality is a strategic partnership and alliance of highly successful, proven, and professional hoteliers dedicated to the single goal of supporting and operating hotels to maximise their performance. Our depth of combined industry expertise encompasses years of producing results by enhancing asset value regardless of conditions or circumstances, while at the same time creating exciting environments where our associates thrive and our guests become lifetime friends. A hospitality investment is a complex vehicle requiring each aspect to be not only performing at peak effectiveness at all times but most importantly, to be synergistically in concert with all other disciplines of the operation to ultimately produce the required return on investment. This requires attention to detail, sound leadership, technical know-how, and a team of proven experts who enthusiastically work well together to achieve a common goal of producing extraordinary results through extraordinary service and sound marketing techniques. This has been our story and continues to be our realities, as we engage and take on new clients and opportunities in the markets we operate in.

In your operations in dealing with clients, do you also inject capital into the business? Is that part of your operation?

We do not inject liquidity into the assets we manage or assume any liability; we invest human capital and our know-how which is an extremely valuable asset to the business we support. We are a service provider at our core.

The hospitality sector is one of the hardest hit with the impact of Covid19. What do you think industry players, as well as the government, can do to lessen the impact of the pandemic on the sector?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has triggered an unprecedented crisis in the tourism economy, especially in Nigeria given the immediate and immense shock to the sector accompanied by very strict lockdown measures implemented by the Government. The government and stakeholders can play a major role to lessen the impact of COVID-19, by making investments into the sector to promptly restart operations safely. The impact of the crisis is being felt throughout the entire tourism ecosystem, and reopening and rebuilding destinations will require a joined-up approach. Tourism businesses and workers are currently not benefiting from any economy-wide stimulus packages, In Nigeria, if this is implemented it will go a long way in sparking a quick recovery. Also, there are some specific measures, the federal and local governments in concert with industry partners should focus their efforts on: Lifting all travel restrictions and working with businesses to access liquidity supports, apply new health protocols for safe travel, and help to diversify their markets. Also, there is need to restore confidence and stimulate demand with new safe and clean labels for the sector, information apps for visitors, and domestic tourism promotion campaigns. Preparing comprehensive tourism recovery plans, to rebuild destinations, encourage innovation and investment, and rethink the tourism sector.

The pandemic has taught businesses to adjust their operations to the new normal, and we believe hospitality players are not left out. How can they rethink their business strategy to adjust to the post COVID era?

I believe innovation will drive the recovery we seek, the hospitality industry by design encourages operators to be adaptable, that said there are different variables at play here and most hotels will have to review their business mix and re-evaluate the commercial plans they have. The focus for every hotel operator should be the domestic traveller, as they will be the key to recovery.

From your over 13 years of experience in the sector working in various clime, what can Nigeria learn from others that would spur growth in the hospitality sector?

I think Nigeria has come a long way in the development of the human capacity needed to service the surging demand for talent in our market, however, more investment is needed in developing local talent with the specialized skills needed drive exceptionalism in our industry, which in turn, will help hotel owners and investors save money by limiting the need to import expatriate talent.

As MD of Anchor Point Hospitality, what would you say is your biggest achievements?

I would have to say putting the infrastructure and faculty in place to ensure that our hotel owners will be supported by a sophisticated infrastructure, and a highly experienced management teams, who understand how to tackle and resolve the core issues of optimising revenue across the spectrum; from increasing room sales, upgrading F & B revenue, maximizing meeting and conference opportunities, and enhancing the unique image and positioning of the hotel properties we support.

Putting up a team to render quality services like the one you do, require funds. What is your source of funding and who are the shareholders behind your company?

We have been able to secure the initial capital required to establish the shared services platform that forms the core of our service offering to include an ERP solution provided by Oracle Technologies which will support our accounting, forecasting, and budgeting functions. These shared services help us to reduce costs for all hotels in our portfolio. Our main source of funding comes from our fees, we tailor our fees to mirror the needs of clients, our management agreements charge a base fee of 2.7 percent of total revenue or a predetermined minimum flat fee, in addition to that we tie our success to that of the owner by charging the bulk of our compensation in incentive fees which ranges from 8-10 percent of GOP, what that simply means is that if the owner is not making money, we are not as well. We also charge a minimal fee for implementation and shared services which are determined when the contract is executed.