ANOZIE EGOLE takes a look at the hotels close to Nigerian airports, their services and how the drop in air travels affect their operations
Financial Street checks confirm that air traffic in Africa dropped by 68 per cent in February 2021 compared with the same period two years ago, which was a setback compared to a 66.1 per cent decline recorded in January. It contracted 54.6 per cent when compared with that of February 2019, and load factor fell by 20.5 percentage to 49.1 per cent. Globally, the total demand for air travel in February 2021 was down by 74.7 per cent compared to February 2019. That was as international passenger demand in February fell 88.7 per cent below February 2019, a further drop from the 85.7 per cent decline recorded in January and the worst growth outcome since July 2020. Performance in all regions worsened compared to January 2021.
Total domestic demand was down by 51 per cent versus pre-crisis (February 2019) levels. In January, it was down by 47.8 per cent against the 2019 period. This largely was due to weakness in China travel, driven by government’s requests that citizens should stay at home during the Lunar New Year travel period.
More findings by Financial Street also revealed that the hospitality subsector was greatly affected by the decline in air transport.
Hotels in Lagos and Abuja are hit very low patronage; unprecedented in the history of hotel business, particularly in the second half of the year when business is expected to boom.
Enquiries in about six different hotels in Lagos revealed that even with relatively cheap prices, they seem to be facing low patronage.
Located on Concord Way, Ikeja, Lagos, the hotel could simply be described as exquisite, going by the structure and the class of its patrons. It was observed that it was patronised mostly by pilots and air hostesses due to the closeness to the airport. The hotel is less than 20 minutes’ walk from the airport. Travellers getting taxi to the airport from the hotel is not an issue, as there are private cabs stationed in front of the hotel.
Westview is obviously not very big. With just a storey building housing the rooms, one needs not be told that the facility lacks space, especially for parking of cars.
The hotel seems to be one of the cheapest on that axis, as a single room goes for N17,000 with Internet facility and free breakfast. Considering the location, it is less than 10 minutes’ drive to the international airport and less than 15 minutes’ drive to the local airport, depending on the traffic situation. Access to transportation is not an issue; taxis also pack at its front. There is access to the Internet upon check-in. However, there seems to be little of no security.
Apart from Legend, Joygate is another big hotel at the airport junction, Ajao Estate. With N30,625 for single room and N36,750 for standard room, the hotel is still cheap considering its class. However, for deep pockets, the diplomatic suite is available for N110,000 with breakfast, access to Internet, swimming pool and gym. This hotel is less than 10 minutes’ drive to the international airport and less than 15 minutes’ to the local airport.
Exquisite Golden Tulip is one of the big hotels in Lagos with local and international patrons. The price is the foretaste. The security measures in place may be the nectar. Deluxe room is N50,000 and executive is N70,000. But the suite is N110,000 with free access to Wi-fi, pool, gym and breakfast. It is less then 10 minutes’ drive to the international airport and 15 minutes’ drive to the local airport.
Located just beside Golden Tulip on the airport road, Presken has branches in some other parts of Lagos State. With N20,000, N25,000 and N30,000 for single, suite and executive respectively, the hotel could be seen as relatively cheap, considering its location.
From observation, Hotel Ibis Royale is an average hotel for anyone. For Ibis Royale, N13,000 can get you Royale Single, N14,000 Royale Deluxe Single, and N45,000 Ambassadorial Suite. Ibis Royale can be said to be suitable for all class of lodgers.
Low patronage despite class
From observation, irrespective of the class, these hotels have one thing in common, which is low patronage. Other things they share are accessibility to the Internet, swimming pool, gym and easy transport. They also enjoy proximity to the local and international airports.
What went wrong?
The Managing Director of Ejiogu and Sons Reservation Outfit, JohnPaul Ejiogu, explained that so many factors contributed to the drop in patronage.
Among them, according to him, is the harsh economy, which led to low demand for class.
“People now prefer brothels to hotels, due to the harsh economic situation of the country. It is only a few that can afford decent hotels now. It has really not been easy.
“What people do now is to pay for few hours to their departure time, unlike when they lodged for days,” he said.
For Festus Irabor, who works with an undisclosed reservation company, with the depreciation of the naira, the sector will witness more problems in the area of patronage.
His words, “This is not the sector we used to know. Before now, there are no spaces here, especially on Fridays; but now, you see vacant rooms, even at weekends. The patronage has been so low.
“Most of our customers still come here to book for accommodation with the promise of paying later. That is what we have been dealing with for some time now.”
According to Mr Oviaewe Omoreghe, an employee of Ovime Travelling Agency, the advent of social media is a very big blow to the business.
He said, “People now go online to make their reservations, and there are so many cheaper hotels online. That is why it looks like the patronage has dropped.”
Others, who spoke on the issue, attributed the drop to the Coronavirus Disease crisis.
A hotel customer, who identified himself simply as Peter, said before the pandemic, his favourite hotel was always occupied.
“Before COVID-19, this place was always busy; you would hardly see a vacant room, unlike what we see now. There is drop in the air travel, which is affecting hotel business in this area,” he said.
Jenny Francis, a lodger, said, “Hoteliers in this axis are really not finding it funny this time around. The drop in air transport and the advent of COVID-19 is really affecting hotel business, negatively, especially here.”
But Ken Mgbanwa does not see the difference. He said, “I really do not see the difference between now that there is a drop in air transport and when the sector was blooming. Normally, this place has been like this, it is not a rowdy place; that is why I always choose here whenever I am in Lagos.”
Onyi Udemba acknowledged the drop in patronage, saying, “I know how this place used to be and I know what I am seeing now. There is obviously drop in air travel because most of their customers here are air travellers.”
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