Seasoned journalist Charles Simango was appalled by dilapidating standards of some services after staying at Alendo Hotel, which is managed by Malawi Institute of Tourism (MIT) and has since offered some tips for Minister of Tourism Michael Usi on how some improvements can be done.
Simango posted a picture of the room he stayed in and went on to say hotels run by MIT are “by far, the best budget lodging places you can get in Malawi”.
“Starting at as low as K25,000 a night, these hotels offer the best service one can get for that price. The rooms are always very clean and so are the beddings. The food is hotel standard and there is always someone waiting on you.
“What is even better is the consistency of their service — I started using them in 1993 and this week I saw the very same high standards I saw then.
“Unfortunately, the hotels are obviously suffering from the same infrastructure dilapidation being faced by most government institutions. The switches are coming off the wall, the furniture is old and tasteless — I can swear I sat on the same old chair I sat on in 1993.
“Then there is the water problem — you either wake up to no water or if there is any, the pressure is so low you end up applying water (kudzola) instead of taking a shower. Water heating? Miserable.
“The staff uniform looks good but the chef uniform really needs a lot of help — you see, a white uniform that is worn daily has a way of telling people that you only have one set.
“Since it’s common knowledge that government is cash-strapped, my proposal to Honourable Dr. Michael Usi is that his Ministry should seriously consider going into PPP with Malawians (not the Sattars). Kuli ndalama ku Banki Mkhonde ndi ma cooperatives so start there and introduce my village aunts to long term investments strategies.”
He then offers advice on what needs immediate fixing such as:
1. Upgrading furniture — the table, chairs and that 1964 wardrobe must go;
2. Install water tanks with a pressure pump if possible but high elevation tanks should do;
3. Candles and matches in a room are a fire hazard — invest in a battery and inverter backup with solar panels as an addition in case of long term outages. Otherwise, a larger battery and inverter set should do;
4. Upgrade your switch, socket and lighting. If I have to get out of bed in order to switch on/off a bedside lamp then it is not a bedside lamp!;
5. Upgrade your locks to card-based door security;
6. Upgrade your bathrooms — you can now replace that old bathtub and it’s 1968 tiles without having to pull them off;
7. Get rid of those high consumption geysers — instant geysers are the norm nowadays and they will save you tonnes of money;
8. You have too much land sitting idle (at least in Mzuzu). Use those spaces to construct more rooms;
10. Buy extra sets of uniform for the chefs and consider in-house laundry service for staff uniform. Otherwise, JIK is known to do wonders with whites. Give them JIK and deduct from their pay.
After upgrading these, Simango asks the Minister to go on AirBnB and raise the price to K35,000 minimum — that is what everyone is charging for less than your current standards.
He then adds some humour by saying: “And then pay me for this free advice. It’s only free if you don’t use it!”
He didn’t stop there — saying as he checked out, he noticed a group of trainee chefs “in sparkling, clean, white uniforms. Obviously these are new uniforms. Let’s maintain these standard even for our actual chefs”.
He could not pay his bill with a card because the point of sale (POS) swipe machine got broken down a month ago and was told that National Bank of Malawi are still working on it.
“So I had to drive to the ATM and come back to pay in cash. You cannot compete on AirBnB with stuff like this,” he said while asking why NBM can’t have replacements handy.
“And how long are you going to stick to gadgets as the only option? Nowadays there are payment apps others specifically for hotels.”
The hotels MIT manages — which used to be called hotel training school — include Mzuzu Lodge in Mzuzu, Lingadzi in Lilongwe and responding to the post, Bright Malopa said he once stayed in one hotel but couldn’t sleep that night because of bedbugs.
Chikosa Banda asked MIT to give Lingadzi Inn some paint face off as most “rooms are not clean at all”.
Franciwell Phiri described Simango’s advice as “a billion kwacha worth,” saying “in a world that is moving fast, you are lucky to get this kind of advice. Only the guilty will not use this advice”.
Jay Mtame said he had used Alendo Hotel a couple of times as “the location is very convenient and the cost doesn’t do any tsunami to your pocket, but indeed the hotel could do with some upgrade”.
“The moment you enter you are greeted with some museum ambience and you wouldn’t be wrong to expect to see a Radiogram somewhere blasting the 6 o’clock ding-dong followed by Henry Chirwa’s [baritone voice of] ‘this is Malawi calling with the international service of the MBC’.
“Surely, something can be done. I never saw the chef’s uniform as I was obviously more keen on the [female] trainees,” he quipped.
Joel Ng’ambi applauded Simango, saying: “I have liked your analysis of the issues — management should seriously look into that, that’s free consultancy that you have offered.
“Management must be both compliance and integrity based. You are a loyal customer for sticking to them since 1993 regardless of all issues highlighted.
“You could have chosen to take your business to their competition but you sat down and listed an almost 10-point plan for the directors and management to do a business re-engineering so as to revamp, revitalize the old brand to match the ever-emerging new technology issues and meet the required standards.
“Keep it up, Charles Simango, few are such loyal and resilient customers.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :