Meet Kampala Serena Hotel General Manager
My 14th edition today, aptly run by GM Anthony Chege, the Kampala Serena Hotel is an inspirational blend of five-star polish, pan-African panache, social style and business reliability.
Brief introduction about Anthony
I am a Hotel Management graduate who has worked with the Serena group for 15 years. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work in several different properties located in different countries in the region.
Since 2011, I have been the GM at the Kampala Serena Hotel, prior to which my duties included Lodge Manager at Serena Mountain Lodge and Kilaguni Serena Safari Camp in Kenya, Camp Manager at Kirawira Luxury Tented Camp in Tanzania, GM at the Zanzibar Serena Hotel and most recently, the deputy GM at Kampala Serena Hotel (2010-2011).
What attracted you to Kampala Serena Hotel and how long have you been in the current position?
I joined the Serena Hotel group because it was – and still is – a market leader in the industry. I grew through the ranks from an Assistant Foods and Beverages Manager at our Mombasa Serena Resort in the late nineties to my current position of General Manager.
What have been your proud achievements since taking over your current position?
Our exceptional and personalised service, dedicated staff and superior facilities have won us valuable accolades. We are the hotel-of-choice for dignitaries and business visitors to Kampala. Kampala Serena has received the Uganda Leading Hotel World Travel Award for 2012 and 2013 and we continue to successfully maintain our membership of the Leading Hotels of The World.
I am a Hotel Management graduate who has worked with the Serena group for 15 years. @thetravelpr
What daily challenges do you face in your position?
Ensuring that we not only meet, but exceed all our guests’ expectations.
What is the overall staff compliment under your supervision and what percentage is recruited from the local community?
Our policy is to first and foremost seek recruitment and employment from the communities where we are based. Currently local staff comprise 97% of our entire staff complement. Dynamic training and mentoring has allowed us to consistently reduce the number of expatriate staff over the years.
Various benefits are provided to the staff in order to ensure recruitment and retention, such as company-sponsored life insurance that benefits the staff member’s family if required and sharing a percentage of food and accommodation sales with staff members.
How do you ensure you turn once-off Kampala Serena Hotel guests into repeat clients?
We always endeavour to exceed our guests’ expectations, so that they give Serena Hotel priority the next time they visit Uganda, whether they are hosting an event or are selecting a hotel where they can host their own guests. No marketing is as powerful as the good word of mouth. We aim to turn every satisfied guest into an active Serena ambassador.
Do you source goods from the local producers, and if so, what do you most buy from them?
Serena Hotels are a passionate champion for locally produced and sourced goods and services. Today, we buy most of our fresh produce from local suppliers – including fruit, vegetables and fish. This ensures we have the freshest, most delicious supplies and helps to boost local business. For us, it’s a win-win approach.
The added contribution has been capacity-building among our local suppliers: we continually provide advice on best practices, with an extra focus on standard operating procedures and hygiene.
What is your involvement in community upliftment projects and environmental protection?
We take our contribution to sustainable development extremely seriously – including socio-economic upliftment for the communities we touch and environmental protection. These are in fact crucial pillars of our business.
Most of our efforts are directed at promoting health and wellness and environmental sustainability:
Mwanamugimu Nutrition Centre is Uganda’s referral centre for malnourished children. Working in partnership with Mulago Hospital, the programme improves children’s health and reduces the number of children that die from malnutrition.
Kampala Serena also has a wellness programme for staff which includes annual health and HIV tests, blood donation drives, fitness and condom distribution.
Part of investing in renewable energy resources entailed the installation of a solar water-heating system. We are already dramatically decreasing our dependence on and use of diesel to heat the water for the hotel.
We have also reduced the electrical energy consumption with the installation of Dichotic halogen lamps and LED bulbs. This has reduced our energy bills and cut down our carbon emissions foot print.
We are very pleased that these initiatives are helping to improve our eco-tourism rating – while lowering the hotel’s operating costs at the same time.
What inspires you to wake up each morning ready to positively contribute in your hotel?
Ensuring that our guests’ needs are met by motivated, committed and capable staff during every encounter, every day, is my quest as the GM of this successful business. My family’s involvement, support and participation in achieving this goal have been instrumental.
What legacy do you aim to leave in your current position?
Saint Francis of Assisi said: “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless your preaching is your walking.” Through my work, I strive to build a legacy of excellence and enable our employees to develop skills – and more importantly, emotions and approaches – so they can be their very best every day.
I see this as a legacy of purpose. We are in the hospitality and service industry. There is no better motivation or reward than working with colleagues who energised, who are aware of their skills and strengths and who are able to use them for a purpose that grows them beyond their own immediate perceptions and daily experiences.
Ultimately, as the world gets smaller, the technology closes the gaps, and positive competition motivates service providers to excel, our guest satisfaction comes first and when we exceed every guest’s expectations, we proudly justify our position as Africa’s leading hotel brand.