Hello thanks for joining us again today on Made in Ibadan, where we talk to brands and business owners in the city. Today we are at Capital Inn, Plot 10 Block E Oluyole Industrial Estate, Ring Road Ibadan and we are talking to the General Manager of the Hotel, Liana P. Homwe, a Zimbabwean hospitality manager who has spent time working for hotels all over Africa.
Hello, Liana, we are really happy to have you here today
I am happy to be here as well
How long have you been here at Capital Inn
This is not my first time here Initially when the hotel first opened, I did some pre-opening work with them as the Chief of Operations. I later left for a while, and then earlier this year, I came back again to continue here as General manager.
Is this the only branch of Capital Inn here in Nigeria
No, it is not. We have a smaller hotel in Abuja, and we already have plans to open the second branch of the hotel here in Ibadan. it is going to be at Agodi
In a big and undoubtedly top class hotel like this, do you get enough people to use your facilities, especially in line with the perception of Ibadan people as people who don’t like to spend money on luxuries?
I have been Ibadan for about three years now, and I have seen some evolution. when we first came into Ibadan we used to rely heavily on people coming in from Lagos, but these days there are a lot of people living in Ibadan who use our facilities. People have birthday parties, weddings, or any kind of parties. obviously, we still rely on people who are coming in from other cities, but there is impressive patronage of the hotel from the local population as well.
In your three years in Ibadan, What are the interesting things you have noticed about the local population?
One of the things I have noticed about the city of Ibadan is that it is a simple city, which is not a bad thing as some people might imagine. I actually like it that way you know as compared to other big cities in Nigeria where everywhere is fast paced and busy. when I first came to Nigeria, I decided to pick Ibadan over Lagos, because I liked the simpler Ibadan life. The people are friendly, the environment its is friendly, you can move around easily, the pace here is manageable and you are not stressed up about something or another. I think that is the beauty of Ibadan.
Now coming back to the hotel now, what challenges have you encountered in the course of running this Capital Inn
The challenges are a lot, but the main challenge we have, and this is not just for our hotel, it is for every hotel out there, is guest satisfaction. In this kind of business, you run into different kinds of people. You have some people who are easily impressed by your service and you also have some guests whom you have to go the extra mile to get a smile out of them. Another challenge is the economy. You have to balance your own overhead costs with your earnings and still find a way to ensure that the guest(s) get value for service. It is quite a difficult task juggling everything in this economy sometimes.
So what are the facilities that are available for use at Capital Inn Hotel?
Apart from the guest Accommodation. we have a number of meeting rooms. We have a meeting room that can seat about eight people, which is good for intimate meetings like board meetings, we have a meeting room that can also seat like thirty people, We also have a small conference room that can seat up to a hundred people. We have a fully equipped, state of the art gym that has a sauna and everything a fitness freak needs. We have two bars, a rooftop bar which can be opened to the sky and is great for all kinds of parties, get-togethers, bachelor parties, birthday parties etc. We also have a swimming pool which is open to members of the public and is not expensive at all. the pool is open for pool parties as well. There is also a front end bar where people can come in sit out and have a few drinks after work or on weekends in a relaxed atmosphere.
With your experience as a hotel manager in Oyo State, what do you think the State could be doing to support the hospitality business?
At the moment, Oyo State is not a state that known for much, so I believe the state should be doing so much more to attract people to the city. Let me give you the example of Imo State, the Imo state government advertises its activities and the state itself on DSTV. For example, I have had my brother who lives in Zanzibar call me and say “I just saw some governor from your place (Nigeria).” when he started to describe what the governor looks like, I knew it was Rochas Okorocha (Governor of Imo State) that he was talking about. I think Oyo State too can really benefit from doing something like that. it is true that the state is an industrial state but I also feel if we advertise our culture and tourism, it will also bring investment opportunities to the state. I think the government’s renovation of Agodi Gardens is a step, even though I feel the government has still not done enough with that place. it could have been made a large scale amusement park where people from Abuja or Lagos can say: “I am going to Agodi Gardens in Ibadan to spend the weekend with my kids.” If you go to Abeokuta, also, for example, there is also this large well-managed amusement park. Ibadan can do well to emulate that. Also, I think the Oyo State Government is heavy on taxation, you have like five or six agencies coming to tax you on your meager earnings. I think the government can give us some tax exemptions or a few subsidies to boost the hospitality sector.
Since the time you have been running this hotel has this hotel experienced any major success that made you feel proud of working here?
I think the main success we have recorded is that we have been able to get this hotel up to thirty rooms from the ten rooms we initially started with. As for awards, we have not won any yet, but we are working towards that. We are evolving and we are changing a lot of things and there is a lot more to come from us.
You said something about a developing hospitality industry in Ibadan, that of course means more competition for you. What do you think about that?
I think in any business, competition is inevitable. and your observation is spot on. The hospitality business in Ibadan, its developing state notwithstanding, is highly competitive. every day you see hotels coming up with new ideas and innovations. I think for us competition makes sure that we strive to put our best foot forward all the time and try to think up new ideas on how to overcome our challenges, not just the external ones I have mentioned, but even some of the internal ones we experience from time to time within the company itself. Competition makes a business strive harder.
Do you think having a large hotel like this is worth it in a place like Ibadan, especially as compared with larger cities around like Lagos and Abuja where you stand to make more money
From a financial perspective, obviously, it is better to have this place in a city like Lagos. If , however, you are looking at it from all spheres, Ibadan is really a gem. You will still make your money here, maybe not as fast as you will in Lagos or Abuja. The interesting thing is contrary to people’s beliefs, Ibadan people are not backward. Nowadays with television and the internet, people are now exposed.If you bring something they will find in places like Lagos here they will find it, they will use it and they will appreciate it.
Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us
It is my pleasure. Thanks for coming around too
If you would like to know more about Capital Inn you can call 08050880707 or send a mail to Liana Homwe at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check the website www.capitalinnhotels.com or follow Capital Inn on Instagram @capitalinnibadan
All pictures courtesy of Portleague Photography (www.portleague.com)