Interview with Martha Adugna, Owner and General Manager of The Residence Suite Hotel (Addis Ababa)
What is your outlook on the hotel and hospitality industry in general in Ethiopia?
The outlook on the hospitality and hotel service generally speaking is growing, and especially nowadays it is growing at a pretty fast pace. We do have a lot of encouragement from relative government officials and interest in the business from individual investors both local and foreigners.
The interest for the industry is mainly because of growing economic and social advances in Ethiopia and we have a growing number of visitors.
Can you tell us a little bit about Residence Suite Hotel? How long has it been operating?
The Residence Suite Hotel has been in operation since late May 2013, so we are relatively new considering the industry which is over 100 years old here in Addis. We still have a lot to learn and so far with the business and the future, we are very happy and we look forward to a very prosperous business.
Tell us a little bit about the property itself and the services that differentiate you from the other hotels?
The Residence Hotel is a relatively small hotel, considering what we are used to having in Addis which is more than 50 or 60 room hotels. We only have 19 rooms which are favored by many visitors due to very private surroundings, and we specifically target long-staying guests which is why we made the rooms very spacious. Our smallest room is about 35 square meters and all rooms are well equipped. They include sitting and working areas and luxurious settings. It is quite convenient and comfortable for long staying guests who we usually accommodate, or guests just looking for comfort and space how ever short their travel period is.
What kind of marketing tools have you been using to promote your brand?
So far, regarding marketing, we have been using local media, in particular advertising in newspapers and magazines. We have done our homework in promoting our hotel and services directly to companies which we believe are our target market. That has been by far more accepted and we have been getting businesses from those corporate clients.
We only have 19 rooms which are favored by many visitors due to very private surroundings, and we specifically target long-staying guests which is why we made the rooms very spacious.
From what geographic area are you getting most of your clients at this time?
Most of our guests are from Africa but we also have guests working in international organizations and basically they are located all over the world. We have guests coming from a lot of places in the world.
What type of growth have you achieved in the past couple of months and what is your outlook on the future?
As for the growth, we are relatively new but within the last six months we have achieved quite a lot. We have reached full occupancy in basically the four months since we opened. This shows us there is a market for this type of hotel and there is a market specifically for very direct and personalized service, which I believe we have the upper hand on because of our small number of rooms and our attention to detail in the entire building and our guests.
Can you tell us about the business tourism in Ethiopia in general? We understand that it has been progressing a lot with conferences and it is the hub for Africa. Why do you think that The Residence Hotel would be a good choice for business people coming to Africa?
The business tourism in Ethiopia, and especially in Addis Ababa, has been growing very quickly over the last ten years. It has progressed and has changed its direction quite often and in a way to target different interests. We have been hosting several major meetings in Addis, we have relocations of major organizations as their preferred location for their headquarters. We also have various groups coming for research and support for local companies. Social events are also attracting large groups of people to Ethiopia who significantly contribute to the hospitality sector.
As for the Residence Suite Hotel in particular, we are a good choice for accommodation in Addis for our impeccable hospitality and service. We do stand with our values of service luxurious and spacious suites in which our guests feel most comfortable. Our location and accessibility is also favored by many.
Would you like to say anything else to address the people outside of Ethiopia about your business and the country itself?
I would like to say something about my country because I do believe it’s a wonderful place to start businesses. A lot of times we overlook the African countries, Ethiopia in particular, and think they are inaccessible or not entirely convenient for business but I do believe otherwise. Since I’m one of the business owners and my husband is also very actively involved in other businesses, I do believe it is a very upcoming and progressive country to start and run and be prosperous in business, regardless of what type it is.
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