Monday, August 4, 2014

‘Nigeria needs proper hospitality training institution’

He has worked in about 14 countries in four different continents as hotelier. Today, Michael Rathgeb is the General Manager of Radisson Blu Hotel, Lagos

The German born hotel administrator has worked in various departments in the hospitality industry from being a chef to house keeper; food and beverages to being a manager in the past three decades.
The graduate of the Cornel Schools of Hotel Administration in New York in this chat shares his experiences in the industry with JIMOH BABATUNDE.

On his background
As mentioned earlier, this is my thirtieth year in the industry. I have worked as a chef as well as an Operations Manager in my first few postings. The hospitality industry has taken me around a lot.
I worked in Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom, I was the opening General Manager of the Radisson Blu in Bristol, and Austria among other places. I have worked in 14 countries in four different continents.
If Nigeria is the first country he has worked in Africa
No, Nigeria is not my first African country. This is actually my second coming to Nigeria, though my first visit was brief. I worked in Egypt and in Cape Town, South Africa just before I came here and I have visited several others.
If he has settled well as being the General Manager
As I mentioned earlier, it is not new to me. It is my 10th year in the role. Maybe I should be answering how I have settled in Nigeria and I must say I have settled faster than I thought I would. The people are very ward and accommodating.
On the Nigerian Business environment
The Nigerian Business is very dynamic. It encourages us to be on our toes as Nigerians are spontaneous people.
Nigerian Hospitality Industry is growing and it has great potentials and an excellent career opportunity for dedicated and aspiring young people. I see even more brands including ours come into the country in the coming years.
On best global practices in the Nigerian Hospitality industry
Oh yes! We are a service organization and in that wise are always looking out to ensure that our clients’ expectations are met just as it is in other parts of the world. Maybe not at the same pace but we are getting there.
This is why I see the growth in the industry in Nigeria becoming competitive with the coming in of many hotel chains across the various cities. I see the competition getting tougher.
If he sees challenges in the industry
Yes, there are challenges but I also see opportunities in caring and giving the ‘Yes, I Can’ attitude, we can make a big difference.
RADISSON BLU is well positioned to meet with the demands of the market.  The brand all over the world is known for exceptional service and we here in Lagos do not intend to be different.
We have our values implemented, we are committed to providing exceptional service, we are innovative and we are keen on training and developing our employees.
Radisson Blu is doing very well at the moment and we strive to do even better. We topped the table of our competitors’ set in occupancy and room rate in 2013.
On manpower in Nigerian hospitality industry
Yes, there are potentials. I have observed however that some people are impatient and proper hospitality school training is required but I must say that we have good employees with a great zeal.
If the market is favourably profitable
At first glance, it seems the rooms are expensive but taking a closer look at the cost of energy, training, maintenance, food & beverage one will discover that a lot actually goes into the running of the hotel.
I would like to say a very big thank you to our clients (without them, I would have packed my bags long ago) and look forward to having them every single day of the week as we have themed nights Mediterranean, Seafood and Shellfish, Barbeque, curries of the world, our Sunday Brunch. They need to come around to pot some balls at the Golf Bar.
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