BY HENRY UMAHI (kinghenrysun@ yahoo.com)
Ewelike Emeka is the general manager of upscale Full Moon Hotels based in Owerri, Imo State. An accountant by profession, he learnt the ropes at Protea Hotel and Best Western Hotel, which is the largest hospitality chain in the world. In this chat, he spoke about his passion for the job, his cutting edge as an administrator as well as challenges of hosting the high and mighty.
What informed your decision to go into the hospitality industry?
I think it is a good place to be part of. While growing up, we saw how things were being done even in our households but you find out that some people don’t really pay attention to issues that relate to others such as welcoming and taking care of visitors properly. Coming to the larger society, you find out that there is a place called hotel.
We are trained to know that the hotel is a different place where all sorts of people come together to constitute the management team and do something good for people. In other words, being part of the hospitality industry is one decision I’ve not regretted since I joined them for about a decade. We’ve been with Protea, Best Western and we are doing well in what we’ve chosen as a career. As the general manager of Full Moon Hotels, it has not been easy. But for the fact that it is something we have passion for and we’ve been doing it for years, we are comfortable in the industry. Once you get people with pedigree in the system to assist you or push with you, people will be rest assured that they are at a place where hospitality practices are being met the right way.
How does someone become an expert in the industry?
Some of us did not study hotel management per se. I’m a qualified accountant but I’ve gone through various levels of trainings. Another thing that qualifies you is doing business related things like business development, accounting, F & B or wherever your strength lies. You should be trained to professionally man these departments.
If you are credible and you have the prerequisite knowledge, the sky is your beginning. You mustn’t study hospitality/ hotel management in school to excel. People who studied it and they are in the system but don’t have passion for the job may not get as far as those who studied something different. So, to me, what qualifies one is not really studying courses that are related to hospitality but your passion for excellence. If you are in the system and you distinguish yourself or carve a nice for yourself, it goes a long way to position you to be a manager or supervisor.
As general manager of Full Moon, what is your cutting edge?
I will not rule out the fact that we are coming from where service is given priority because the system we operate does not give room for complacency. We’ve got high level trainings from world class hospitality chains such as Protea and Best Western, which is the biggest hospitality chain in the world. For some of us who were lucky to get quite a number of trainings from the organisation, we are so proud to be part of it and it has been so helpful to us.
It has added remarkably to what we are doing even at my level as general manager. Also, we try to impart this knowledge to the people we are leading. Having what it takes to lead people is important. We understand the nitty-gritty and dynamics of the business. That the cutting edge.
Why would anybody patronise you?
Full Moon is the topmost hotel in Owerri, the capital of Imo State. I don’t know of any hotel in Imo now which you can compare to Full Moon in terms of facilities and service delivery. It is the only four-star hotel in the state. The reason people should come to us is that we are offering service that is second to none. We have some of the best personnel working with us and the best of facilities.
Our ambience is as serene as a new born baby and we don’t play with standard. We give excellent touch to every aspect of the business. Our F&B services are awesome; the housekeeping people are on top of their job. In terms of maintenance, there is adequate structure on ground where people follow up on facilities day by day to make sure we don’t leave any stone unturned. We have chefs with international experience who thrill our guests with their culinary skills. The rooms are sizeable and exquisite.
There are penthouses, deluxe and executive rooms among others. In fact, Full Moon is a place to come and once you visit us, you will come another time. What we offer are things you cannot see in other places. And we are looking at creating a reward system for our clients. Security is also of paramount importance to us. We have armed policemen round the clock and private security personnel who are well trained. We have a thorough bred chief security officer who oversees the security issues in the hotel. So, both the guests and staff enjoy maximum security although it is God that protects.
What are the major challenges you face on the job?
There are quite a number of challenges, particularly irregular power supply which is a national problem. You can imagine a situation whereby sometimes you run the generator from dusk till dawn. You can imagine the overhead cost. So, a large chunk of money goes into diesel and generator maintenance and replacement. I think there is a hotel union in Owerri crying to government to help them ameliorate the situation so as to reduce the cost of running the hotels. Some of the hotels fold up after a few months because of the overwhelming overhead cost. Competition is fierce in the state; there are so many hotels. But Full Moon stands out because of the standard it has set, so we are not scared of the competition.
Another thing is that government agencies are demanding for one thing or the other. Government should create a good platform for businesses to thrive because the hotels are helping to create employment for the youths most of who are graduates. So, if any hotel is forced to close shop, many people will be thrown into the saturated labour market. Government should bring in investors because it will grow business generally in the state. It will also boost the image of the state.
Full Moon can accommodate high net worth individuals and they will get whatever is obtainable in Lagos or Abuja. If there are no investors and investments, people will just be running from pillar to post and there won’t be any transaction. But I will advise those who are not really prepared for the business to turn their facilities into other uses.
What would be your advice to younger people who may want to seek a career in the industry?
People must aspire to get to the top of their chosen career and patience is important. You need to guide yourself and get the necessary knowledge. You cannot become the general manager overnight. Some of us started as housekeepers and grew from there. You must position yourself to get to the position you aspire.
You must learn the ropes so that you will be able to interpret the abnormalities you see in the system. If you don’t have the knowledge, they will mess you up when you get to the top because you do not understand the dynamics of the business. If you’ve seen it all as it were, it becomes easy for you to operate when you get to the top.
Source : SunOnline