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Bicu’s Sonia Iraguha shares tips to succeed in hospitality

Despite the existence of investment opportunities, Rwanda’s hotel sector has faced problems including a lack of skilled personnel. Sonia Iraguha shares her tips and tricks and some of the skills she believes can go a long way in the industry.

Sonia Iraguha is the owner of Bicu Lounge a trendy rooftop lounge located in Kigali’s city center. Iraguha has a vast experience in communication and hospitality as well. She has worked with various brands in Rwanda, Kenya, and Paris before opening her own business in Rwanda.

Tourism and hospitality are one of the fastest-growing sectors in Rwanda. In 2019, the sector directly employed slightly over 164,000 people, 4% of the labor force, across different education and skill levels. It has also been the biggest employer for women and the youth.

The tourism and hospitality sector relies heavily on both skilled and unskilled labor. The skills demanded by employers vary by sub-sectors and potential employees must have a mix of technical and interpersonal skills to meet the needs of the clients.

Strong communication and interpersonal skills are crucial and cut across all aspects of the tourism and hospitality value chain. Prospective employees in the tourism sector will be competitive if they can demonstrate the skills and competencies required by the employers.

Iraguha’s tricks and tips

Iraguha believes that in the tourism and hospitality industry, communication is key.

She says, “In order to communicate with your customers, you need to be able to speak great English, which is one of the languages that is used in tourism and hospitality.”

“I am going show you the tricks and tips so that you can succeed in tourism and hospitality. So first things first, when you first see a client, you need to have a warm, welcoming smile.”

She asserts that the smile is everything. “That’s what’s going to set the pace for how the client is going to feel throughout the service. It’s important for the waiter or whoever you’re communicating with to be aware of this.”

She believes that people working in this sector have to manage a lot of high expectations and sometimes falling short might happen. The best thing and the key is to communicate and apologize and assure.

In the case of customer complaints, Iraguha gives examples of how to handle them. “An example would be, Thank you so much for bringing this up with us. We will inform the manager and get back to you as soon as possible.”

Or you can take a more assertive route she said.

“You choose how you want to make sure that the customer leaves with a happy face. And note to self, bad feedback is never a reflection of our ability. It’s the way you handle the complaint that is.”

She emphasizes that it is important to communicate and that everything will go well. So while rendering a service to a client, you need to make sure that communication is well thought out throughout.

Iraguha advises that if you don’t understand something or if they don’t understand something, it’s okay to repeat it a couple of times. Make sure you clarify with the client what they need so that you give the best service possible.

The businesswoman also says it is important to always be prepared to act efficiently and fast. When customers are asking for the bill, make sure it’s fast and efficient with this. This is the lasting impression that they’re going to have of the experience and your service.

Language can help you unleash your full potential. The Rwanda Development Board in partnership with MasterCard Foundation and Education First is offering a free online English program so that you can master the English language for the tourism and hospitality industry.

Check out the Education First Rwanda website and learn more about this program.
Click here:
Register here:
Registration ends 15th October 2023.
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