The owner of Tlotlo Hotel and Conference Centre, Antonia Shadiwa Majinda is a woman with big dreams and big plans.
Situated in an ideal location that offers private elegance and superb service on sprawling grounds with beautiful gardens, Majinda’s establishment is your perfect destination for workshops and conferences in Gaborone.
Voice Editor, Emang Bokhutlo recently sat down with the owner of this million pula accommodation and conference facility to discuss business and developments in the fast paced tourism industry.
You are a hands on entrepreneur, How did you first become a hotelier?
I used to work for a bank and after a while I realised that there was a shortage of conferencing facilities in Gaborone because it was often a struggle to find a place we could book for training and workshops.
I have always been business minded and by the time I took notice of the gap in the conferencing market I was already running a pre-school.
I did a market research which confirmed my suspicions that there was indeed a shortage of conferencing facilities in the city so I quit my bank job and threw myself into setting up Tlotlo Conference facilities in phase 2 with all the fervour and passion I could master.
But that was 12 years ago, have you managed to capture a fair share of the market so far?
It hasn’t been always easy because since then there has been a fast growth and a lot of activity in the hospitality industry in Botswana in general.
There’s been many new entrants making competition very stiff but yes we have made an impression and managed to capture some loyal customers even as we continue to work tirelessly to grow our clientèle base through various marketing strategies both locally and internationally.
All I can say is that to go into business was one of the best decisions I have ever made. No regrets so far.
You recently moved into this magnificent new building on the outskirts of the city. What happened to the conference facility you set up 12 years ago in Phase 2.
I sold it. We needed to sell both to unlock capital to allow for business expansion and to move to bigger and better premises where we could offer accommodation to complement the conference facilities.
We now have 84 rooms which make it easier for us to source conferences even from outside town because we can keep them on the premises.
How challenging was the move and the expansion then?
It wasn’t easy. I was financed by CEDA who gave me the maximum loan limit that their credit facility can offer.
It was not a small loan by any stretch of imagination but it was still not enough so I sold some of my paid up properties to leverage the business and I’m proud to say that we haven’t defaulted on our repayment so far and everything is on track and soon I, too will hopefully be smiling all the way to the bank instead of the crying I have been doing for the past two years (Laughs)
How difficult or easy has it been to get the right human resources for your business?
Although it’s a big struggle to find qualified and enthusiastic employees we take pride in recruiting the best in the industry.
For scarce skills, we have recruited highly qualified Zimbabweans to fill a number of key positions but most of our 85 employees are locals.
To be honest we are proud of our hard working employees and can’t wait for the business to start doing well so we can reward them accordingly.
Right now they are not getting what they deserve but they have shown commitment and zeal to take this establishment to greater heights.
Any new developments that your clients need to know about?
We just got our full occupation permit and very soon we will get the Botswana Tourism Organisation to come in and grade us.
That will be a big achievement because it would help with our marketing, especially to the fussy international community that want to know how many stars a facility is before they book with us.
The premises are big so apart from our own fresh water fish pond and upcoming garden wedding venue, we are also building an upmarket nightclub for mature revellers who wouldn’t want to mix with the young and excited youth at some hangout spots in town.
We also offer a quiet, peaceful and delightfully serene ambience for a mature crowd to hang out at weekends or after hours and enjoy our superb hospitality away from the hustle and bustle of the city.