Why the hospitality college alone won’t save the service industry

There is something inherently wrong with our service industry that an attempt to explain it will always end in futility.
Paul Ntambara
Paul Ntambara

There is something inherently wrong with our service industry that an attempt to explain it will always end in futility.

Just when you think that things are changing the stark reality of the dire situation in especially the hospitality sector, is always there to give you a rude reminder of the challenge that the country is still faced with.

My nature of work affords me the opportunity to traverse the country and most cases I’m compelled to spend nights outside my humble abode. It is during these moments that I have looked at poor service in the eye and frustratingly it has not flinched.

How would you explain a situation where you ask a waiter to help you draw a table closer and he hits back ‘can’t you do it yourself’ as he catches up football action playing out on television? Shocking, huh? But this is the shocking response I got from a waiter at a popular hotel in Huye town.

And you don’t have to go far to come face to face with this vice that has crippled the service industry, you just have to step out of your house.

And sometimes it can get pretty annoying, just recently in an attempt to beat the traffic jam en route to the airport to see off a friend, I boarded a ‘taxi moto’.

I managed to beat the traffic but not the ‘cancer’ of poor service! After disembarking, I handed my rider a Rwf5000 note for him to deduct the fare. With an excruciating air of arrogance he told he didn’t have the change and what is more painful he couldn’t bother to find it. It is at this moment that I wished I had more muscle!

There is a new phenomenon that is eating into the industry; your skin color will determine how fast you will be served!  Those who have gone to restaurants or hotels mostly frequented by whites will bear me witness. This I experienced first hand while at popular a hotel in Remera where I waited for over an hour to be served while white customers that kept pouring in were served in a twinkle of an eye. A friend later intimated to me that the reason behind this discrimination is that white customers are more generous in giving tips!

I could go on but for lack of space.

This paper yesterday reported the impending construction of a Rwf12b hospitality college. While this is good news for the hospitality sector, it will not offer a solution to all the challenges that continue to dog the industry.

Yes we need the skills but it will take more than skills to turn around the industry. We need a mindset change.

Workers will point to poor remuneration for their poor attitude to work but the question is where will employers get the money to pay their staff when clients decide to ‘migrate’ as a result of poor service? This, however, does not negate the fact that employers have a duty to motivate their staff by providing them a conducive working environment.

The Rwanda Development Board is doing a commendable job through its customer care campaigns and capacity building programmes, these efforts have to be sustained. They say that it takes a village to raise a child and, in the same vein, it will take a country to route out poor service especially in the hospitality sector.

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