INTERVIEW: Sheraton Hotel Marketing Director on Business Amid Covid19 Crisis

The Covid19 pandemic and the different measures put in place to control its spread have hit and put a big dent on a number of businesses in the country and the world at large.

The hospitality Industry has been hit hard in particular with the recent restrictions on travel, the different requirements for one to take a flight or enter a different country and the Social Distancing requirement among others.

While some hotels have resorted to closing and others downsizing on number of staffers Sheraton Kampala Hotel has remained afloat and despite the times we live in, the hotel continues to operate under the Standard Operating Procedures.

In this interview, Jacqueline Nalubega the Hotel’s Director for Sales and Marketing shares how they are faring in these tough times.

It has been a tough period for the hospitality industry in Uganda. How has Sheraton Kampala Hotel Coped?

We are still living in challenging times of the Pandemic aftershock. We have seen businesses close and others barely stay afloat. As Sheraton Kampala Hotel, we are thankful to every client who has trusted us enough to walk in or stay with us ever since the lockdown was lifted.

International travellers form the largest portion of our customers. So until international travel stabilizes, we continue to focus on serving the local market. We have curated packages that perfectly suit the needs of people living in Uganda while remaining cognizant of the current economic turbulence.

We also made The Sheraton experience mobile. You can now order a meal from the hotel through Glovo, Jumia food or direct ordering via our hotel lines for  home delivery.

What precautions has the Hotel taken to ensure staff and guest safety in a post COVID-19 world?

Sheraton Kampala Hotel has and will always be committed to prioritizing the health and safety of our guests, customers and associates. This is an integral part of who we are.

Through the guidance of our affiliate, Marriott International, we elevated our existing standards and put in place stringent protocols in the wake of COVID-19. 

We increased cleaning frequency in public spaces and guest rooms, installed hand sanitizer stations throughout the hotel, provided Personal Protective gear like face masks, hand sanitizer and rearranged our public space layouts to effect social physical distancing. All our staff members are also currently receiving their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Strict observation of SOPs is our best chance at fighting COVID-19.

Why should someone consider coming out of their homes to stay in a hotel after months of Lockdown?

Humans are not conditioned to hibernate-A theory that has been rethought after the COVID-19 pandemic-Rather, we are inquisitive and social animals. As the travel restrictions loosen, we all deserve a holiday, a treat, or a well thought hangout after all we have, and still endure since last year. It’s healthy to cautiously step out of our four walls to change scenery, perspective and break Cabin fever. 

Our Bounce Back package is specially tailored to refresh one’s mind, body and soul after the overwhelming period we all have been or continue to go through. 

Do you have any special offers that people should look out for?

Yes, we have special offers ranging from stay, food and leisure: A Special weekend stay for both couples and individuals, A Long stay package for 10 days or more and, Unwinding offers for walk-in guests seeking to relax and catch up with friends in the evening. Our wellness and fitness center package helps you reach nirvana through an exhilarating session at the Gym, Pool and Spa.

Our English breakfast at Victoria restaurant from 6am to 11am is a must-taste and you can’t afford to miss Kampala’s favorite Sunday Brunch every Sunday starting at Midday. It’s a grand family affair.

Your Sunday brunch is quite the family affair, tell us more about it.

Our brunch happens every Sunday from 12pm to 5pm costing Ugx 90,000 for adults and 50%  discount for children. Beyond an All-you-can-eat buffet and dessert, the children are catered for with different activities and games like swimming, face painting bouncing castles while the adults get entertained with music and we offer discount on Alcoholic drinks.

Is there anything special that Sheraton Hotel is planning for its customers in the near future?

As we draw closer to the end of the year, we have a variety of activities lined up for the festive season. Just as a highlight, we are planning on  making our Saturdays memorable and fun filled with an outdoor experience for all ages  at the Picturesque Kyogga swimming pool.

As one of the pioneers in the hospitality sector, what do you think the government should do to promote this sector during the pandemic?  

We would like to request the government of Uganda through Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA) for the VAT exemption. This is a crucial factor because many businesses were affected by COVID-19.

Any other remarks

Once again we would like to thank our clients for entrusting us with their comfort, relaxation, productivity and special occasions. We are a Business and leisure spot. Whether you need a boardroom for professional meetings, a ballroom for a glamorous reception or conference, a day at the fitness and health center or simply meet a friend over coffee at the Cafe, we look forward to hosting you.

Marion Ayebazibwe