Mr Brian Efa, General Manager, Ibom Hotel and Resort on Thursday said the resort had gained more patronage even as COVID-19 ravaged the world.
Efa disclosed this during a webinar session organised by Mr Ikechi Uko, Organiser, AKWAABA Africa Travels and Tourism Market, with the theme: “Know More About Ibom Resort”.
The Naija 7Wonders recently rated Nigerian resorts; while the Obudu Resort emerged first, the Ibom Resort came second, Kajuru Castle clinched the third position, Ikogosi, fourth, while others followed, till the 20th position.
He said the huge patronage of the resorts was attributed to the strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, as the resorts all accorded priority to the training and retraining of their personnel.
Efa noted there was also consistent budgeting for growth, improved marketing strategies and collaborations with key stakeholders.
According to him, these were the major strategies which enhanced the patronage of the Ibom Hotel and Resort, urging other hotel managers in the country to emulate such.
“Before now, we used to have about 40 per cent occupancy in the hotel but now, we have 80 per cent occupancy with some serious pressure. Even when we increased our rates, because it costs us a lot more to ensure that the resort is safe, we still enjoy a huge patronage and we disinfect the rooms each time guests leave. There are a number of reasons for the boost in patronage and particularly during COVID-19, many hotel managers went to sleep but I brought my team together to think critically. We made video clips to inform the public of how strict we are adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols, to boost their confidence, and this really worked for us. The success story can also be linked to the fact that I have developed emotional connections to the property since it opened in 2011; this is my 15th year in the industry”.
Efa said other factors responsible for the huge patronage included the serene ambience of the resort, its natural environment, the attractive sports arena, its golf course and lots of other attractions.
He said even when the resort was managed by an international hotel chain, it was running at a loss, until his assumption in office in 2018 when some strategic measures were adopted.
Efa noted that there were plans to develop an e-commerce sports centre, a standard children’s playground and lots of activities to further woo tourists.
He enumerated some other attraction spots to visit in Uyo as the Lord Luggard House, the venue where the Aba Women’s riot started, the Mary Slessor House, the Marina house and lots more.
Efa said the resort was able to fund itself through internally generated revenue, while the Akwa-Ibom Government usually provided its cooling and power systems.
He called on Nigerian tour operators to collaborate with the resort as they would enjoy generous discounts, instead of the regular rates.
“Ibom Hotel and Resort is a wonderful piece of artwork on 178 hectares of land. I want to change this hotel to be called a destination and not just a hotel; we will continue to improve the facilities. I want to demystify the notion of Nigerians that Nigerians cannot run a hospitality outfit successfully; all we need is a commitment and the passion to deliver”.