Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Amanda T. Chimuka, I am a Stenden South Africa graduate, class of 2020.
My journey in the hospitality industry began 5 years ago. I am a seasoned hotelier driven by a passion for a quality experience. My career path was mainly influenced by my interests which are travelling, meeting new people, my love for food and experiencing different cultures, but most importantly making people happy.
You did your internship in the food and beverage department which we know is a vital touchpoint in a guest’s experience within the hotel. How do you see your delivery of service changing due to COVID-19?
Service delivery, as far as the food and beverage component of hospitality is concerned, will have to make a complete 360-degree adjustment. Based on my experience, food is a pivotal aspect of hospitality and it is one of the reasons guests book into a hotel. However, the amount of contact between when the food is prepared and it reaches the guest creates increased possibility for high-risk contamination. Hence, there’s a need for hotels to rethink the way they do service, for instance, most crockery and cutlery is metal and we are aware that the coronavirus can remain on metal for up to 5 days and 4 days on wood surfaces hence constant sanitation is required. COVID-19 has caused us to be more conscious of how we do things hence too it is necessary for the kitchen to take extra care of how they handle food. Food handlers undergo tests before they can work but, since COVID-19 has an incubation period where it can go undetected, food handlers must follow necessary procedures and extra care so as not to infect colleagues and or guests.
We understand that you are currently based in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. What has been your experience with the delivery of service vs hospitality within this tourism destination?
I have had the best of both worlds as l have been privileged to work in a 4-star and a 3-star hotel. What was striking about both properties was that their goal was to deliver 5-star service and give guests more than they anticipated. However, l feel that there’s much more competition and the stakes are high. Hospitality, I believe, is the face of any nation. As a hotel, you will be marketing your culture, cuisine and showcasing the beautiful parts of your country. Hence hotels in the Victoria Falls region both in Livingstone and in Victoria Falls town need to step up a bit more in order to be a cut above the rest. Victoria Falls is one of the seven wonders of the world and a UNESCO heritage hence there’s a need to maintain its prestige.
Livingstone (Zambia) and Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) are two towns that are competing for the same tourist attraction. What was the biggest difference that you noticed when working in these two destinations?
The difference between these two destinations is very minimal, because both towns have an almost similar setup in terms of hotels and activities but despite all the shared ideas of operations - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe remains the best destination compared to Livingstone, Zambia because of its strategic positioning. That gives it the huge area of the Victoria Falls and also not only that but the falls can be seen from a good and clear angle unlike in Zambia where they can only be viewed from a side view. The best hotels and resorts are located away from the town, right in the thick bushes of Livingstone while most hotels in Victoria falls are in the town area.
Also, in terms of conservation, Victoria Falls Zimbabwe has a good system In protecting the animals’ natural habitat, the wildlife from poachers and controlling deforestation. However, I could safely say that part of the major difference between the locations is keeping up with trends. For instance, some hotels in Victoria Falls are still yet to fully install key card systems and use outdated versions of software for check-in. This illustrates a clear difference in approach between the two destinations!