Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Hospitality, the Sunbird Way

Sunbird Hotels are known for their hospitality business. They have also put in place facilities that are used for leisure purposes; an extension of trying to add value to this hospitality service. The reason such facilities are put in place is to help residents while the hours away while staying at the place. Entertainment of other magnitudes though gives room for other non-residential patronage.
Not that it is only sunbird that is in the hospitality business, no, several are, but my interest today is to talk about Sunbird Hotels. The talk is also not for all of their hotels, but just one of them which is in Mzuzu, rightly called Sunbird Mzuzu Hotel.
The Mzuzu Sun Bird Hotel has a number of hall-like facilities that are used for conferences as well as entertainment events. Unlike other hotels they have a place called Boma Park where there is a stage where performers use to display their art; the place has also some chalets that sell fast foods as well as alcoholic drinks and minerals.
This, I mean the stage and the food plus the drinks, do mix well when there is a musical band performing.
All musical names of value in the country have performed at the Boma Park Stage at one point or the other.
In fact, no one can separate music from the Mzuzu Sunbird Hotel. Their lounges and corridors are sometimes filled with soft music that seem to be emitting from the walls and the ceiling.
Every Fridays Mzuzu Sunbird Hotel also conducts a nightlong disco show at its spacious Choma Bar which is becoming a Friday ritual for Mzuzu revellers. The reason the occasion has become so famous in the city is because of the quality of music that becomes part of the disco night. After all what is a disco night that is devoid of music, anyway.
At this place the Hotel has also abortively tried their hands on a resident band arrangement.
Now, if you look at how Mzuzu Sunbird Hotel attaches importance to music, you would expect them to act like such music promoters that they are supposed to be, more so when you look at how music also helps them to make business. But developments on the ground suggests to the contrary.
First, it was an exorbitant price tag that the hotel stuck to the Mzuzu Sunbird Hotel Boma Park, where musicians had to spend a fortune in order to perform there, thereby acting as a restriction to our musicians who utmost struggle to put their act together.
Apparently, those that enter such an expensive deal to perform at the Park are also given specific period when they can stage their show.
While all this is happening, the Hotel is also busy selling beverages and fast food and they also have their man at the entrance to see to it that the money that would be claimed to have been made is indeed what had been declared so that their cut is exactly within the agreed percentage.
Let me look at the two recently and closely following musical shows that have taken place at the park and the lessons I think the management of the hotel should learn as a result.
First was the Black Missionaries Band which was supposed to perform between 13 hours and 17 hours. When time to drop the curtains was nearing, an official from the Hotel was seen ascending the stage and whispered in the ear of Anjiru who was in the thick of things, telling him that time was up and they needed to decrease the watts to Zero.
The Blacks, however, read the feelings of the patrons and they could not just switch off and go so they started taking their patrons down to a level that they could easily declare the show was indeed over. Eventually when they were leaving the stage dusk had engulfed the city.
After the Blacks then came Lucius Banda. When Lulu, who has become part of Lucius’s act, took to the stage, after only a song or two, the unimaginable happened because this time round the hotel management did not even bother to give a warning but they just decided to pull out the plug from the sockets.
In this case, they created two scenarios; the obvious one was when unsatisfied patron descended on band members, others even on Lulu and demanded their money back, mind you it was K700 per head.
It had taken the security team to protect the members from the angry patrons who threatened to break the equipment or worse still the hotel property, which could have been the other second worst case scenario.
Such inhospitable conduct was completely amateurish from management of the Mzuzu Sunbird Hotel; it was uncalled for as it destroyed the spirit of music which builds peace and happiness not unrest and anger.  

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