By Elves Kimutai
Despite Kenya’s hospitality industry experiencing downturn in bookings due to unfortunate terror attacks, Business hotels have not been heavily affected mainly because Kenya has continued to receive a lot of attention from the business community globally especially with the recent visit of President Barrack Obama and upcoming arrival of Pope Benedict .
This among other various ongoing exploration works including geothermal, oil and massive infrastructure investment keeps Kenya in general and Nairobi in particular very busy.
Attractively, being gateway to East Africa, Kenya has seen several multinational companies relocate their Africa branch head offices to Nairobi with an aim of targeting Kenyan and Sub-Saharan Markets from within. These companies attract guests and consultants requiring accommodation.
Coming from a successful and well established business family background, Vikram Khettry, the General Manager of the Hotel Royal Orchid Azure, Nairobi, offers a foretaste of the hotel leadership and outstanding success that has made the group grow so fast despite tough competition experienced in the hospitality industry.
Royal Orchid group of Hotel is one of the fastest growing hotel chains in South East Asia, tracing its roots from India and over decades has enjoyed outstanding success by winning the hearts of its customers and their loyalty. The group has won numerous awards including the best hotel service and the MD of the year in India.
Here are excerpts from an interview CEO Africa magazine did with Vikram Khettry, the general manager of Hotel Royal Orchid Azure;
CEO Africa: What does Hotel Royal Orchid Azure, Nairobi, offers to Customers?
Vikram Khettry: The hotel is part of a group of hotels from India, our value for money proposition is unique amongst all, if you look at our product and services, it qualifies as a full service hotel. As you know hotels are traditionally classified into star categories. There are one, two, three, four and five star hotels categorization.
We offer our guest a full service hotel. This would mean, we provide first class international product and services including all facilities you would get in any five star hotels.
We have 165 fully equipped rooms with all modern facilities including RFID door locks, Electronic Safes, LCD televisions, centrally air-conditioned rooms, memory foam mattresses, 300 thread count linen, three fixture bathroom and imported bathroom amenities among others.
To answer your question, we simply offer our guests comfort and luxury at an affordable cost.
What other unique attractive services you offer to your customers’ compared to your competitors that you would like new customers who don’t know you to know?
Our customers choose our hotel because of various aspects: the location of the hotel is amazing, nestled in a serene environment at the heart of Westlands, 10 minutes’ drive out of the busy and noisy CBD. Our location and proximity to city’s vibrant night life makes it interesting proposition for both business and leisure travellers.
Hotel Royal Orchid Azure, Nairobi, offer range of business and leisure facilities these include an outdoor pool, gym, over 20000 sq ft of versatile banqueting space, Casino, Wet Lounge, Salon and massage parlor and shopping arcade. The hotel’s dedicated team is our biggest asset, providing genuine warm hospitality with a smile every time.
Who are your target clients?
Nairobi being a regional economic hub receives many business travelers as well as plays host to numerous international conferences.
Hotel Royal Orchid Azure, Nairobi, attracts short staying business traveler, conference delegates, extended stay guests and leisure travelers. I believe as long as Kenyan economy maintains the amazing growth forecast, it will continue to attract international investments thus increasing business travel into the city. We target these new customers by offering them first class international experience and great value for money.
Westlands environ has quite a number of five star hotels. How do you muddle through the competition?
The Answer is very simple, yes it is difficult to get business in a strong competitive environment however competition also enhances customer experience and maximizes value for money proposition. As mentioned earlier I am very fortunate to be working with a team that is committed to customer satisfaction, this has by far been the most important aspect in ensuring a fast paced ramp up for our business in year one of operation.
You cannot ignore security and ample parking in the hotel industry as the key factors. How is the situation in Royal Orchid Hotel?
Our multi-level secured parking facility can accommodate over 200 cars, a facility we provide free of cost for hotel guests. We have ensured that the hotel as well as its surrounding area is secured with adequate manpower and state of the art systems. The security features include armed officers, a perimeter wall, CCTV coverage monitored round the clock, metal detectors, baggage scanners, 24 hours uniformed and non-Uniformed guards, standby response team, strategically located panic buttons, boom barrier, access control in elevators and guest rooms and a 24 hours manned reception. Just like any other international hotel, we take security seriously.
Apart from the said services and products you offer to your customers, what other added value should customers expect from Royal Orchid Hotel?
Hotel Royal Orchid Azure, Nairobi offers a relaxed and flexible environment. The hotel is designed to accommodate unique guest requests mostly at no extra charge or at a very small fee depending on the request. This makes our guests enjoy their stay without experiencing hotel boredom. To name a few, all guest room television offer selection of local and international channels including news, entertainment and movie channels, all guests have access to complimentary high speed internet, outdoor pool, gym, garden with natural surrounding including a water feature. Guests are also offered complimentary membership of “Royal Rewards” – our guest loyalty program, to reap range of benefits at our hotel and across 37 other hotels.
In the coming future, where do you see Royal Orchid Group?
The East African Community integration has opened up enormous opportunities. As local, regional and international travel grows in the region it would create new demand for quality and affordable hotel facilities. We are determined to provide luxury and comfort to our loyal and new customers at affordable rate while maintaining high quality of our products, services and hospitality, as we look to garner opportunities of growth for our brand in the region.
How do you gauge the success of a Hotel?
When any business is able to maximize its potential by meeting and exceeding its customer’s expectation, keeping the team happy and motivated, at the same time ensuring maximum flow through to the bottom line, then I believe the business can be called successful. It is all about having the right vision, passion, motivation, doing your research, determination and hard work.
What are some of the necessary skills and abilities for someone who plans to venture into this field needs to succeed?
Don’t wait for tomorrow, start your venture now. Kenya is destined to grow rapidly. There is no specific strategy to succeed in any business. Know your business, have a plan as you move forward, hire the right skillset, have the right attitude and success will follow.