Hotel Investment Conference Africa attracts 200 delegates
“Africa is open for business and sub-Saharan Africa is ready to play its part,” says CEO of the Tourism Business Council (TBCSA), Mmatšatši Marobe, as she wrapped up the sixth edition of the Hotel Investment Conference Africa (HICA) 2012 held in Durban on Friday. “The overwhelming sentiments emanating from speakers and delegates alike were of hope, confidence and positivity about the future of the region.”
A packed programme dealing with every aspect of the business of hospitality, hotels and tourism was offered to the over 200 delegates who attended this year’s event. The day’s sessions touched on topics ranging rom ‘the state of the hotel industry’, to dealing with ‘distressed hotels and what can be done to ‘fix’ them’; the building and operation of ‘green hotels’, to the role of architecture in the development, building and operation of hotels.
The recurring themes of the day included the need for investment in infrastructure on the continent and the urgent imperative to bring the costs of doing business in sub-Saharan Africa, down. MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT) KZN emphasised that ‘development taking place in any part of Africa, be it in the SADC region, east or west Africa, was good for the continent as a whole’.
The wide variety of options and choices now available to potential tourists at the click of a mouse, has forced players in the hotel, airline and tourism services space, into finding ways to do business differently or suffer the consequences. This ‘reality’ formed the basis of a discussion on ‘Ways to improve hotel operations in order increase efficiency and profitability’.
Almost to a person, the panel of industry role-players highlighted two aspects; the importance of hotels being ‘customer driven’ in order to foster customer loyalty and taking care of ‘human capital’, to secure staff loyalty. In their efforts to cut and reduce costs, many operators had stopped asking customers what they wanted and were incurring costs on items that were not essential or necessarily complementary to the business of generating revenue.
Equally, the consistent training, development and up-skilling of staff, made for happier, more enthusiastic and confident people, happy in their work and completely focused on doing their best for their customers.
Steuart Pennington the CEO of ‘SA The Good News’ brought the conference to a close with an enlightening insight into what makes the countries of sub-Saharan Africa so competitive a force for the future… helped along by all African’s promoting a positive narrative about the continent themselves.