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  Just 6 kilometres North of Aso-Rock lays a sprawling piece of real estate. The property, a triple-winged edifice, towers more than 10 storeys off the ground, imposing itself on the surrounding area. It’s the Transcorp Hilton, the most well-known hotel complex in Abuja, and one of Nigeria’s finest hospitality hotspots.
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There’s a lot more to this place than its overpowering exterior. It boasts 667 nicely furnished guest rooms, 7 restaurants, pleasant open spaces, airline kiosks, a 24-hour fitness centre, an outdoor pool, and more—plenty to savour. The standards at the Hilton are high; you’ll see this with the impressive style of its suites, the social ranks of its guests (typically the affluent, top government functionaries, and internationally recognized figures), and the astronomical lodging fees. If you’ve heard about the many successes achieved by this hotel over the past several months, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s enjoyed at least a decade of uninterrupted bliss. But things haven’t always been rosy at Transcorp Hilton. Just a few years ago, it had fallen on really hard times, precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like every other business in the hospitality industry, it was teetering on the edge. It has taken exceptional leadership to move it from that precarious state to what is now a thriving giant.

Dupe Olusola: Coming in at a Rough Patch

Dupe Olusola was appointed Managing Director and CEO of Transcorp Hotels in March 2020. At that time, the world was in full-blown panic mode, triggered by the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. Later that month, the Federal Government declared a total lockdown, which lasted several weeks. Movement was curtailed, and the economy suffered as a result. “Due to the pandemic, we were recording quite significant losses”, Dupe recounted, in an interview.
“We decided that it wasn’t business as usual. We had to be innovative. We had to invest in technology, and we had to step outside of the box to diversify the business segments that we had.”
Having arrived from UBA, where she was the bank’s Group Head of Marketing, she quickly set off to work with reforms that would take Transcorp back to its glory days, and, if possible, surpass them. It wasn’t her first rodeo as a senior figure within the Transcorp group, the hotel’s parent company. Dupe had previously also worked as CEO of Teragro, its agribusiness division, and must have watched the hotel’s growth from a distance. Now she was at its helm, and it was up to her to steer it back to success. Dupe Olusola and her team noticed that, due to restrictions on international travel, more Nigerians were choosing to spend their holidays and leisure time in locations within the country. This was a reality that they could take advantage of. And they did.
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“What we saw with the COVID-19 pandemic was an increase in the domestic tourism market,” Dupe notes.
“Prior to now, many Nigerians preferred to travel out of the country to enjoy sights and sounds at other locations. But at Transcorp, we were able to create an environment for them where they could actually visit and enjoy the accommodation and lifestyle experiences offered by the hotel, in Nigeria, and have a great experience.”
This partial pivot towards supporting “staycations” proved to be a winner. At least its numbers suggest so. The hotel quickly exited the bad times and returned to profitability the following year. But Dupe and her team realized that there was even more to gain from the company’s new focus. In 2021, they launched Aura by Transcorp Hotels, a mobile app which allows users to book high-quality accommodations and experience some of Nigeria’s major towns and cities. It was launched with much fanfare by Yemi Osinbajo, the country’s Vice President at the time. Within months, the platform had listed over 5,000 unique residences for short-term stays spread over 30 states. “It’s something we’re really excited about, because it helps us to begin to change the narrative regarding hospitality in Nigeria,” Dupe said shortly after the launch. “Our focus is to discover and promote hotspots for hospitality in Nigeria.”

Triumphs on Many Fronts

In the years that followed, Transcorp Hotels emerged as a brand that bucked the trend of struggling enterprises within the Nigerian economy. It recorded revenues of ₦31.44 billion in 2022, an increase of almost 47% on the ₦21.42 billion it achieved the year before. And in 2023, it was the best-performing stock on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, with its share price surging a whopping 1022.9%. By January 2024, Transcorp had become a trillion naira company, thanks to a sustained rally in its share price at the NGX. Analysts have chalked this up to investors’ trust in the company’s leadership. Awards have followed. Transcorp Hotels won three in one night in October 2023—two at the Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards, and one at the World Luxury Hotels Awards. Both events took place in Greece. A year earlier, its sales team was honoured at the Commercial Services Summit Awards.
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But Dupe Olusola isn’t resting on her laurels. Transcorp Hotels is set to inaugurate a 5,000-seat capacity event centre in Abuja in the first quarter of 2024. There are also plans to build a five-star hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos. The building will rise to 20 storeys, contain 300 rooms, and be accompanied by an office block that’s just as tall. “We want to expand and deepen our hold on the industry, and establish a presence other parts of Africa as well,” Dupe revealed in an interview. “There’s so much more to come from us.”
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This article was first published on 25th January 2024


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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