The Kenyan hospitality sector has stood the test of time. Businesses have been created in different styles, tastes, and packages based on cultures, demographics, climate, investor pockets and demand. Suffice it to say, hospitality is a basic need.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 saw the sector undergo the worst hit in Kenya’s history compared to other sectors. Before the pandemic, accommodation and food services sector was a key contributor to the strong performance in services in the economy.
The sector formally employed over 82,900 people and, together with trade services in 2019, engaged over nine million people. After expanding by 10.3 percent in 2019, the sector was the worst hit by the pandemic, contracting by 57.9 percent in the third quarter of 2020 compared to a contraction of 83.3 percent in the second quarter.
Covid-19 exposed the unsustainable business models adopted in the hospitality industry. There is need to build key blocks to make it more resilient. Neglecting this could push the sector to the brink of precipice.
The key to sustaining the hospitality sector in Kenya is facilitating relevant training programmes to all personnel that run the different segments of this industry. The importance of instilling know-how, skills, and information systematically in the minds of people with passion for hospitality industry cannot be understated. It is the key to a strong and stable industry.
Every investor yearns to have the best and most qualified manpower in their businesses. Every guest yearns for professional service rendered by a thoroughly trained server. Every team member is encouraged and inspired by a well-trained colleague.
This means that in as much as training on the job is common nowadays, training institutions must be empowered and strengthened to continue baking best products to serve in the Hospitality industry.
Stakeholders must build capacity of training institutions to enable them produce competent personnel while learning institutions, on the other hand, should be well equipped with the right facilities to deliver on their training mandate. Team leaders in the industry should also work towards continuously growing their teams through continuous trainings.
Hospitality business and work is sheer showmanship. Every player puts their best foot forward in terms of self-presentation. However, professional training holds it that grooming has to be reserved to avert overdo, just as the saying, too much of anything is poisonous.
A departure from this culture is a declaration of major anarchy and bad precedence. Service providers would lose focus and concentrate on self vis a vis guests if grooming is not professionally regulated by organisations’ management teams.
In order for the hospitality industry to achieve greater efficiency, operating equipment in all departments must meet quality specifications including length, weight, material, size, compatibility, user-friendliness and energy saving. This is due to the simple fact that operating systems are not substitutable.
To excel, a hospitality business must invest and reinvest in standard operating equipment. This promotes seamless cycle, which is always evident in the organisation’s bottom line.
A big threat in modern practice is the substitution of operational equipment which sometimes comes into play as a way of cutting down on acquisition cost and sometimes labour cost thus affecting product quality and eliminates personalised service.
It is important to remember that every industry has norms and traditions that players hold dear. Physicians have the Hippocratic oath.
Lawyers have the attorney oath and hospitality players have, “Guest is always right!” and “Guest is the King!” which means that the hospitality industry players must at all times practice utmost understanding, warmth, flexibility, empathy and emotional intelligence to meet and exceed their guests’ expectations.
This tradition guides operations promotes empathy, betters understanding of guests’ individual needs and enhances anticipation of those needs.
In his 14 Principles of Organisation, Henry Fayol, a management thinker, notes that espirit de corps is a key pillar in an organisation. Hospitality businesses must cultivate a culture of team spirit and collegiality among teams in order to ensure excellent service delivery to guests.
Properly coordinated and scheduled teams can achieve whatever they put their minds to. It is true to say that hospitality teams are as strong as their weakest links. Team spirit helps hospitality businesses to thrive and remain atop of competition. Team spirit makes work easier; it promotes mutual loyalty.
For such a strong and solid industry, players have to do whatever it takes to guard the aforementioned cornerstones. If done, the dignity of the hospitality sector will still remain intact. Let all of us pick a leaf from the fall of big brands, which at this point and time should act as a key wake up call to every stakeholder in the hospitality sector.