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Shifting sands of SA travel

SA travel
SA travel

Shifting sands of SA travel

The Hotel and Hospitality Confidence Index 2023 and analysis from Statistica agree in their predictions of an uptake in African hotel revenue this decade. So, if you’re in the market for a hospitality job, here are the trends to research, says Charles Edelstein, director at Executive Placements.

Hotel revenue across Africa will reach a figure as impressive as US$13,8 billion by 2027, is the word from industry analysts – extremely good news following the uncertainty this sector suffered over the pandemic.

For hospitality entrepreneurs, this means investigating buoyant investments where cashflow returns can be as high as six to 12 percent per annum; and employing strategies that include high operational efficiency, satisfied customers who market the property for you on social media, and a top-notch management team that keeps day-to-day costs as low as possible. Placing capital in the real estate aspect of a tourism property also allows an investor to diversify their portfolio away from the stock market –  a situation in which this uncorrelated asset class can provide just the golden ticket any entrepreneur is keen on.

Capitalising on sustainability

One of the most interesting, yet demanding, aspects of the travel and tourism industry in sub-Saharan Africa is the need to be as green as possible, while tackling the concomitant challenges of the region’s power and water shortages. If this is a speciality area depicted on your CV, you’ll be acutely aware of the way in which a hotelier’s investment in sustainable technologies and practices can serve not only to improve their establishment’s profitability (by going off-grid with solar installations, for example); but also how the stablishment’s reputation can be significantly elevated (i.e. among eco-conscious travellers and environmental regulators).

Word on the street is that an investment in solar, room automation, and air-source heat pumps – as just three of many green-hospitality options – should be investigated and invested in now; before the current energy crisis worsens. While the capital outlay may be vast at the outset, this approach will attract sustainable investors in the medium term, and on-going green tourism numbers to your establishment in the long term.

Customer-centric approach

If you are managing or running a hotel establishment, or applying for hospitality jobs in the sub-Saharan region right now, an important aspect of your work/preparation for interviews will involve finding out exactly what overseas guests and visitors from elsewhere in the country most want to experience when they stay with you. The first thing the research will tell you is that our overseas tourists hail predominantly from big cities in the US, Europe and the United Kingdom – and are therefore ever so keen on a nature-focused getaway. The country’s most popular safari destination, i.e. Kruger National Park, which boasts one million visitors per year, is the obvious choice – but there are other similar, if less-publicised, offerings of this kind too. Luxury accommodation, game drives that allow sightings of a huge variety of animals and birdlife, five-star dining, and the feeling that nature is all around cannot be beaten or replicated when all an overseas tourist wants is to take in something completely different to their “normal life” back home.

 Maximising any downtime on a business trip

Another key trend in the global travel and tourism niche, according to eVisa Express,  is that of “bleisure bookings” – in which at least 48 percent of Millennials (those travellers aged 27 to 42) will stay on longer in a country after a work trip to explore, see the sights, and simply unwind. Expedia.com agrees, citing a general trend for business travellers who combine work with leisure to be as high as 76 percent – up from 60 percent five years ago in 2018.

A local example, if tour guiding is your niche, could be advising your parties to check into the Radisson Blu Hotel and Residence, Cape Town, with the family in tow. Then, the adult in the party with the business meetings in and around the CBD could then spend the first four of seven days focused on work (while their partner and kids shop, sightsee, and relish this 5-star seaside location); followed by the entire group then relishing your accompaniment as you ferry them here there and everywhere to the city’s white sandy beaches, historic architecture, and breathtaking viewpoints – not forgetting a stay in Franschhoek or Stellenbosch, for winelands hospitality to rival any around the globe.

A few more examples? Medical tourism, whereby a visitor undergoes a not-too-serious procedure and thereafter relishes the SA sunshine and gentle fun-to-do activities in their chosen location; Greatest of All Trips (GOAT) deals, during which the concepts of “bucketlist” and “carpe diem” provide overseas guests with sufficient thrill-seeking behaviour that they’ll remain contented at their work stations for another six months, at least; and package deals, both high quality and all inclusive, that make travel to our beloved SA as lavish as any oveseas exchange rate can endorse.

This “world in one country” is probably the best place to be based for any person venturing into a hospitality job. What more can we say to convince you?