Why would a hotel not accept cash to pay for room reservations from tourists? Can it be that cash is no longer king? Isn’t cash, well, just simply that – cash?
A group of 15 Belgian cyclists who went to Uganda to follow in the footsteps of last year’s Brussels Airlines’ cycling event, expressed their consternation when they were told by the Hotel International on Muyenga Hill in Kampala that their cash payment to secure their rooms was no good and that the owners insisted on payment via Western Union.
Further digging revealed that apparently do the owners not trust the managers who in turn do not trust their staff. It appears that should in fact cash be received and receipted, there are doubts across the hierarchy of this hotel that the money would still be there intact the next day and not vanish into thin air overnight.
A staff of the Belgian Embassy who had helped to put the trip together, expressed his own surprise when he narrated the story to this correspondent that cash was no good at this hotel in spite of the fact that Uganda remains largely a cash-based economy with credit or debit card penetration still very low.
After appealing to the managers to permit cash payment, ready to drive to the hotel to pay, he was told within a few minutes to take his business elsewhere unless he agreed to pay via Western Union, of course, also covering the high fees that payment platform collects from those remitting funds.
The group was subsequently rebooked into another hotel for their first and last night in Uganda, confirmed instantly at their new venue, their cash accepted without hesitation, a receipt issued, and with a thank you very much for staying with us.
It goes to show that professionalism in some quarters of the hotel industry in Uganda still lacks with such amateurs allowed to play hoteliers. No doubt the exposure here will raise alarm bells within the hotel association and other circles. Sadly, when it impacts on a client’s visiting experience, like in this case, it can only be hoped that those responsible for such crude and rude methods will be called to answer to the licensing authorities and explain why they should retain their hotel license and not lose it or be fined for their arbitrary behavior.