Céline Magneche Nde Sika is the chapter leader of RaizUp Africa.
Get to know her better in the following blog interview, learn more about the chapter work, upcoming plans and challenges and get involved.
What was your first travel job and what did it teach you?
It was in my country, Cameroon. I had been asked by a hotelier in Douala, the economic capital of the country, to help turn their two hotels around. The two hotels were in very bad shape financially and something needed to be done in order to save the businesses. After spending some months working with management and the employees of the two hotels to audit the businesses, I shared my diagnostic and findings with the hotel owner and management and helped draw and implement an action plan.
Which company in hospitality / travel tech you admire and why?
I love the Ritz Carlton company because of their philosophy of making unique, memorable and excellent customer service a culture and for teaching the world how to do that successfully.
What’s one book/movie every tourism professional should watch/read and why?
I highly recommend the book The Heart of Hospitality by Micah Solomon because it tells us in clear and very simple words, images and anecdotes what is the heart of hospitality. What we should do to win the heart of employees and travellers and create the customer experience they crave. Things we can do but that we don’t for many reasons some of them being ignorance, routine, laziness, etc.
Why did you become a Raizup Africa chapter leader?
I am a tourism and hospitality professional on a mission to help hoteliers — and women especially — to better serve the customers of today. Women, who play a very important role in this industry are still invisible in decision making rooms, and still don’t have access to the resources that they badly need to play their part and make their marks in this very important industry. I want to contribute to change that panorama and give women wings to fly high in this industry. They are able, they are willing, they just need opportunities because without the latter, no one can shine.
What are the current hospitality and travel tech challenges in Africa? How do you plan to address them?
So many hoteliers are still running their businesses manually and yet technology offers incredible and very effective tools to successfully and easily run businesses today. And among them, women are the largest group with no access to technology. Whether they are farmers who supply hotels or restaurants with food, restaurant, hotels or tour operators’ owners, they are not using technology to effectively run their business. They lack the knowledge and skills to do so.
On the other hand, they have no access to financial resources to run or expand their businesses most of the time because they don’t have the guarantee that almost all the financial institutions request (land, buildings, etc.).
There are also other critical skills that women badly need to negotiate loans, sell their projects to potential donors, etc. Communication, negotiation, public speaking, customer service, financial literacy, are some of those skills they need to have and master.
In Africa we face a big shortage of skilled hospitality and tourism professionals not only because there aren’t good schools where people can be trained, but also because people do not know the tourism and hospitality industry and all the great and incredible career opportunities that they offer.
What are your chapter plans for 2021?
I am planning to contribute to help fix these issues in Africa through webinars, talks and WhatsApp groups that I plan to create to talk with women and have professionals in the industry share their experience and management tips with them. Because of the Covid-19, we have to take special measures which will limit the scope of my action. But sessions in public venues (hotels, restaurants, schools, etc.) with a small number of participants are some of the strategies that I plan to use to equip women with the tools and skills they need to join this industry and effectively contribute to build it.
How can members get involved with Raizup Africa?
By conducting webinars -Know hospitality and tourism- or workshops -to build women’ capacities so they can successfully run their businesses; by organizing events around important dates (International Women Day; Sustainable tourism, etc.), by mentoring women in the tourism and hospitality industry, by sharing their experience in the industry with the youth, etc.