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Business Traveller Africa May 2017

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Mark Wernich
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ISSUE 115: May 2017
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• Conferences
• Training
• Meetings
• Private functions
In the heart of Sandton (Rivonia),
there is a unique destination.
Set among the trees on the banks of the Sand River,
you will find peace and tranquillity unmatched in
Jo’burg’s north.
Set on an acre, home to an abundance of birdlife,
conveniently located to the Rivonia CBD
and the major arterials, Sand River Guest House
offers guests something distinct.
Be it the 4 Star luxury rooms, or the meeting facilities
through to our unique conference and meeting destination,
we call the Tree House.
Full Day Conference - R330pp
Rates include: tea/coffee on arrival;
mid-morning tea/coffee and scones, lunch,
afternoon tea/coffee with cake of the day
Half Day Conference - R195pp
Rates include: tea/coffee on arrival;
mid-morning tea/coffee and freshly
baked scones with jam and cream
Rates are subject to change withouth prior notice
★ ★ ★ ★
It’s hard to believe
that you’re in
T: +27 (0) 11 234 1666
M: +27 (0) 71 324 7857
26 & 27 August
To find out more about exhibition opportunities please contact: Susanna Voysey
T: 084 795 1948 E:
Hosted by:
The MICE industry is not immune from
the challenging economic conditions
facing just about all of the world’s
major markets. That’s regardless
of whether you’re a meeting
organizer, an incentive programme,
conference or exhibition. Throw in the
unpredictability of the African market
and the ‘up and down’ nature of the
continent’s fluctuating fortunes –
particularly as currently seen in some
of Africa’s biggest economies – and
you have a difficult job for those tasked
with identifying trends and spotting
recurrent themes.
04 Message from the Team 34 Tried and Tested
What’s the editor ranting about now?
06 News
Airline, hotel and other travel news
from Africa and beyond
13 ASATA Column
The latest from Chief Executive Officer
Otto de Vries
14 W Hospitality Column
Managing Director Trevor Ward gives
us his take on the West African hotel
Hotel Check
• Friendship International
Flight Check
• Virgin Atlantic
36 Q & A Interviews
• Richard Addey – Sabre
• Marc Descrozaille – Rezidor
38 People on the Move
The movers and shakers –
what they’re up to now
40 Bite with the Editor
Mark Wernich – Preferred Hotels
MAY2017 | 3
mong the many industry reports I
receive over the course of a year, I
always look forward to getting my hands
on the hotel-focused studies conducted by W
Hospitality Group and HTI Consulting.
Both focus on hotel development and activity, and
provide fascinating insight into who – in terms of
hotel brands – is doing what and where. They are
also incredibly well researched and give you a sense
of where the hotspots on the African continent are.
HTI released their 2016 report around midApril and it provided some interesting takeouts, particularly as it relates to the trends and
activity they have seen over the past year or so.
Specifically, the HTI report “provides a brief
summary of the top five and bottom five performers
across 13 African cities, as indicated by STR.
Occupancy, ADR, rooms sold, rooms available
and future supply were all taken into account.”
Among the conclusions the report draws,
it states unequivocally that Cape Town was
the big winner in 2016, growing both its
occupancy and average dollar rate (ADR).
On the occupancy side of things, Cape Town was
followed by Lagos (although not enough to offset
the sharp decline at the end of 2015), Durban,
Lusaka and Pretoria, with Lusaka, according to the
report, also enjoying ADR growth in 2016 – the only
other African city to do so, in US dollar terms.
The big losers?
Well, according to HTI, in terms of occupancy,
Accra and Addis Ababa both had a poor year,
followed by Gaborone, Dar es Salaam and Harare.
When it came to ADR decline, again Accra was up
there, alongside Lagos, but that was no big surprise,
taking into account the performance of the Nigerian
economy, the depreciation of the Naira against the
dollar, and an increase in supply in Accra. The other
poor performers, in terms of ADR, were Harare and
Gaborone, echoing that of their occupancy issues.
What about future supply?
Well, Addis Ababa is apparently leading the way,
followed by Nairobi, Cape Town, Lagos and Accra,
but what I found interesting was HTI punting
Durban as a “potential opportunity”, as they called
it. The report also urged readers to “keep watching”
Accra, saying “room nights sold growth indicates
market recovery, and if that continues, new supply
could be absorbed at a faster rate than anticipated”.
Cape Town, though, remains the horse to back,
and even though there are high levels of supply
planned in the short-term, according to HTI,
occupancy is also likely to only be affected in the
short-term, provided demand growth continues.
Fascinating reading.
Dylan Rogers
4 | MAY2017
Richard Lendrum
Dylan Rogers
Kate Kennedy
Pierre Grobler
+27 82 900 4026
Iga Motylska
Nadette Voogd
Mabel Ramafoko
Postal Address:
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Physical Address:
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Telephone: +27 11 327 6107
3rd Floor, EuniBrown House195,
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Tel: +234 1 740 3236
Mobile: +234 803 963 0155
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Mohammed Abdullahi
Business Traveller Africa is published under licence from Perry
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Wings Launches
Park Inn by Radisson Opens
in Nairobi
The Rezidor Hotel Group has opened a Park Inn by Radisson in
Nairobi’s Westlands. Park Inn by Radisson Nairobi Westlands is
Rezidor’s 35th hotel in Africa. The group’s Africa & Indian Ocean
portfolio now features 16,600+ rooms in operation and under
development. Located in the Westlands area of Nairobi, the new
Park Inn by Radisson is in close proximity to the CBD, the local
headquarters of the UN and several international businesses.
The hotel’s 140 rooms feature a host of amenities “purposefully
built to suit the needs of today’s modern traveller looking for
an international midscale hospitality experience”. The Live-Inn
Restaurant serves fresh ingredients to create international, modern
Kenyan and regional cuisines. Guests can relax at the Live-Inn Bar
or the Attic Rooftop Bar. The hotel has five meeting rooms as well
as an event terrace and features a fully-equipped g ym and highspeed wi-fi connectivity throughout.
ORTIA Suspends Staff Over
Illegal Commissions
O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg has suspended
35 of the 56 information desk staff employed by the airport,
pending disciplinary procedures. The 35 employees have been
suspended following an investigation over several weeks into
allegations of illegal commissions paid by certain hospitality
providers to secure referrals. As the investigation continues, further
suspensions and disciplinary procedures are possible. Airport
management has notified the South African Police Services of this
matter based on the outcome of its internal investigation.
6 | MAY2017
Wings Travel Management, which is celebrating its
25th anniversary this year, has introduced goSecure,
a risk management and alert portal, to the market.
goSecure will enable Wings’ consultants to locate
and communicate with travellers and bookers
accurately and rapidly in times of emergency. This
advanced tool features four dashboards showing:
Who’s Where; Who’s Flying; Locate an Individual;
and iJet World View. Wings consultants can view
travellers on interactive maps, track the stage of
each traveller and send notifications to travellers
and bookers if someone is at risk. As well as finding
current locations, such as Paris or Berlin during
recent terrorist atrocities, goSecure enables Wings
consultants to determine if travellers have been in a
region before a risk such as Ebola or Zika becomes
apparent. For clients that have an established risk
management strateg y, Wings offers the option of
goSecure+, a fully-customised portal for use inhouse by travel managers to locate and communicate
with their travellers. goSecure’s mobile app VIMA
(Virtual Itinerary Management Application) allows
travellers to view their flight itineraries, check flight
status updates, departure gates and weather at their
destination. For clients of goSecure, VIMA becomes a
security alert tool as consultants can proactively send
notifications to the individual traveller. Travellers
can also be quickly located via mobile GPS and can
communicate that they are ‘safe’ during a crisis.
Ethiopian Signs New
Ethiopian Airlines has signed codeshare
agreements with Air Europa, Singapore Airlines
and South African Airways. The new partnership
with Air Europa, which came into effect on
11 April, allows both airlines access to each
other’s networks. Air Europa operates to
51 destinations around the world, accessed
through its hub in Madrid (Spain). The agreement
with Singapore is an expansion on the existing
codeshare and will come into effect on 1 June.
Ethiopian’s daily non-stop services to Singapore
from Addis Ababa, due to be launched in June,
will be covered by the expanded codeshare
agreement. The airline has expanded the
codeshare agreement with SA A that was inked
on 1 October by adding Cape Town, Durban and
Toronto (Canada) as additional destinations to
the existing codeshare flights.
For more news, visit
New Tsogo Sun Hotel in
Tsogo Sun is increasing its investment in Maputo
(Mozambique) with the construction of the $17 million
StayEasy Maputo. The new-build hotel will be part
of a mixed-use development and located just two
kilometres from the group’s Southern Sun Maputo
Hotel, which itself received a $23 million makeover
in 2014. Construction of the 125-room hotel began
in mid-April and is scheduled to be completed by
April 2018. Both these Tsogo Sun hotels boast prime
locations on the seafront in the Bay of Maputo on the
Avenida da Marginal. The StayEasy Maputo will be
built above the new Baia Mall that is currently under
construction, and situated on a portion of the old
Automoval Touring Clube de Maputo race track.
Marriott’s New African
Marriott International recently announced its first
property in Kenya with the opening of Four Points by
Sheraton Nairobi Hurlingham. Designed for the modern
traveller with an emphasis on approachable design
and stylish comfort, Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi
Hurlingham features 96 rooms and several food and
beverage options including an all-day dining restaurant, a
rooftop restaurant and a bar and lounge where guests can
experience the brand’s signature Best Brews programme
featuring an array of local beers. Other hotel facilities
include a fitness centre, a rooftop pool and 8,500 square
feet of flexible meeting spaces. The hotel provides all of
the brand’s defining elements including the signature
Four Points bed, free bottled water in all rooms and
suites and free wi-fi throughout the hotel. The group
is also currently developing a 365-room JW Marriott
in Nairobi slated to open in 2020 and an Aloft hotel in
Mauritius in 2019. The Aloft Mauritius Port Louis will be
the brand’s first adaptive reuse project in Africa. Located
in the central business district area of Port Louis, the
existing nine-floor office building will transform into the
city’s newest hotel complete with 150 rooms, accessible
technolog y and a hip, social atmosphere. Designed
with the needs of the sav v y next-generation traveller
in mind, the hotel will offer free wi-fi, SPG Keyless, a
Re:charge fitness centre; a rooftop destination bar and
pool, Re:fuel by Aloft; as well as two meeting spaces.
For more news, visit
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to purchase a vehicle, Avis can provide the service
to make your travels that much smoother.
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MAY2017 | 7
Preferred Hotels
Launches Mobile App
and Members-Only
Iberia’s New Premium
Economy Cabin
Iberia recently presented its first Airbus A340/600 fitted with its
new premium economy cabin. Aircraft already in Iberia’s fleet at
its Madrid hangars will be retrofitted, while the A350s on order
will come factory-equipped with the new seats. The airline will
have five A340s equipped with the new cabin for the imminent
northern hemisphere summer season. The premium economy
cabin will be available on flights to and from Chicago, New
York and Bogota in May, Mexico, Madrid and Miami in June,
and Boston in August. By the summer season of 2018, premium
economy will be available on all of Iberia’s long-haul routes
operating Airbus A340/600s and A330/300s, as well as the Airbus
A350s that will join the Iberia fleet starting next year. Seats in
the new cabin feature 20% more separation between seat rows,
48-centimetre wide seats, seven inches of recline, adjustable head
and foot rests, full HD 12-inch touch screens, noise-cancelling
headphones, and connection ports for personal electronic devices.
Passengers can enjoy a welcome drink, a special menu, table
linen, a personalised amenity kit, an additional luggage allowance,
and priority checking-in, boarding and exiting the aircraft.
In response to consumers’ increasing desires to
manage travel plans directly from their smartphones,
Preferred Hotels & Resorts launched a mobile app
and member rate programme as major enhancements
to its points-based hotel rewards programme,
iPrefer. Through the app members can search and
book stays at more than 600 iPrefer participating
hotels worldwide, access exclusive offers, update
their profiles, view their stay history and related
points earnings, and immediately access and
redeem Reward Certificates. Members will also
receive push notifications regarding special offers,
and American Express cardholders will enjoy
an expedited process through American Express
Checkout. Enhanced features will be introduced
in time, such as a concierge chat service that
allows guests to communicate directly with the
hotel and reserve services such as spa treatments
that can be purchased using Reward Certificates.
The iPrefer app is available for iOS and Android.
Preferred has also launched a member rate
programme that invites iPrefer members to access
savings of 3% or more on top of the best available
rate whenever they book stays at participating
hotels directly through iPrefer channels.
Fastjet Increases
Harare-Vic Falls
Fastjet has increased the number of flights on
its route between Harare and Victoria Falls
in response to strong passenger demand.
The airline, which previously operated three
weekly flights on the route on Tuesdays,
Thursdays and Sundays, added a Friday
flight on 7 April. These flights depart Harare
International Airport at 16h15 and land at
Victoria Falls International Airport at 17h25.
The return flight takes off from Victoria Falls
at 17h50, landing back in Harare at 18h55.
8 | MAY2017
For more news, visit
Transforming the
business of corporate
travel through integrated
travel technologies.
aha Shakaland Undergoes
Soft Refurbishment
aha Shakaland in Eshowe (South Africa) is undergoing
a soft refurbishment. The refurbishment will involve the
remodelling of the bathrooms by replacing the baths
with walk-in showers, in line with aha’s strateg y of water
conservation and sustainability. Rooms are being re-painted
and new linen and Nguni hide mats introduced. The pool
area is being revamped. The buffet area in the Shisa Nyama
restaurant, which offers a mixture of traditional Zulu
food with touches of modern cuisine, will also receive an
upgrade. The refurbishment also extends to the conference
centre which sports a modest upgrade. “These renovations
will be carried out in phased stages, to avert any impact on
our guests,” said aha Hotels and Lodges CEO Neil Bald.
BA Invests to Boost
Customer Experience
British Airways will be investing $495 million in its
Club World (long-haul business class). From June, new
catering will be introduced at the Heathrow business
lounges. From July, the cabin will feature new linen,
bigger pillows, a soft mattress topper and duvet.
From September, there will be a new restaurant-style
dining service. In South Africa the airline will add
680 seats a week to Johannesburg by operating an
all-A380 service. BA will again operate its expanded
Cape Town schedule, including three weekly flights
from Gatwick Airport, over the 2017/18 southern
hemisphere summer. The frequency of flights to
Mauritius is increasing from three to five Boeing 777
services a week, upping capacity from Gatwick by 550
seats weekly. It will also operate six weekly flights to
Gatwick from Algiers (Algeria). Operations for African
passengers at Gatwick have been moved to the South
Terminal, where a new premium check-in area has
been created. The new First and Club lounges have 40%
more floor space, more seating and upgraded wi-fi. At
Heathrow’s Terminal 5, BA has launched a new ‘First
Wing’ check-in area. It includes a dedicated two-lane
security channel and direct access to the Galleries First
Lounge and Concorde Room for the first time. The
programme of lounge investment will see revamps of
the Terminal 5 lounges as well as the Johannesburg
lounge at O.R. Tambo International Airport. A
new lounge is also being built at Jomo Kenyatta
International in Nairobi (Kenya), which will be shared
with American Airlines. The on-board improvements
extend to the latest-generation wi-fi, which will be
rolled out across the long-haul network from April.
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MAY2017 | 9
SA Travel Agents
Mövenpick to Enter Ethiopia
Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has signed its first hotel in Ethiopia
as its expansion in sub-Saharan Africa gathers pace. Slated to
open in Q4 of 2019, Mövenpick Hotel Addis Ababa will be located
in the city’s exclusive Bole district, just 2.5 kilometres from the
international airport. The hotel will feature 252 rooms, an expansive
ballroom and state-of-the-art well-being facilities. The management
agreement represents another step forward for Mövenpick’s strategic
expansion plans for Africa, following on the heels of last year’s
opening of Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech and the
signing of new projects in Tunisia, Kenya, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.
With growth averaging 10.8% since 2005 and projected to remain
at seven to eight percent until 2020, Ethiopia is one of the world’s
fastest-growing economies. Following a momentous year in 2016,
Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has continued its rapid expansion this
year, with the Addis Ababa signing taking the total development
pipeline to 35 hotels worldwide.
The New Zealand Immigration Advisers Authority
has launched a campaign to inform South African
travel agents about what immigration assistance
they can legally provide in response to New
Zealand’s visitor visa change for South African
nationals. “Travel agents may receive an increase in
requests for immigration help from those wishing
to come to New Zealand,” said Registrar of the
IA A Catherine Albiston. “Agents may not be aware
that they can only provide very basic assistance,
such as sharing Immigration New Zealand’s forms
and website, and putting clients in touch with a
licensed immigration adviser or exempt person, if
they do not hold a licence themselves.” New Zealand
immigration advice cannot be provided without
a licence, which includes advising a person on
visa options or how best to fill out an application
form. Exempt people include current New Zealand
law yers and Immigration New Zealand staff. “If
a client is unsure where to go for New Zealand
immigration advice, the travel agent could supply
the link to Immigration New Zealand’s website
or the Immigration Advisers Authority’s free
register of licensed advisers to help the client find
a local licensed adviser,” said Albiston. The IA A
is responsible for issuing licences to immigration
advisers worldwide and handles complaints about
poor immigration advice. The IA A does not provide
immigration advice. More information on the IA A
can be found at or by emailing A person’s immigration application
or status will not be affected by contacting the IA A.
Time Square Opens to the
Sun International has unveiled the first phase of its multimillion dollar development, Time Square, in Menlyn,
Pretoria (South Africa). The complex, which includes a
casino and a restaurant hub, was opened to the public on 1
April. At a cost of $300 million, Time Square represents Sun
International’s largest investment in a casino development
in 15 years and forms part of the green Menlyn Maine
precinct. Construction of the complex commenced in
April 2015, with development of the casino and restaurant
section fast-tracked by six months to completion in exactly
two years. The casino itself is currently the second largest
in South Africa, with two floors housing 2,000 slots and
60 tables, as well as a Sun Lounge, Prive and several
private gaming rooms. Opening with the casino are 18
new restaurants and bars by an eclectic ensemble of South
African and international personalities, including Forti Grill
& Bar, Something’s Cooking by J’Something, by musician
J’Something, Guy Fieri’s Kitchen and Bar South Africa, and
Altitude, a champagne garden and supper club offering
panoramic views of Menlyn. The next phase, construction
of an 8,500-seat arena, is expected to be complete in
November, followed by phase three, The Maslow Time
Square hotel in March 2018. The hotel will offer a new
concept in hospitality, being a 238-room specialist business
hotel, offering standard to premium accommodation.
10 | MAY2017
For more news, visit
Emirates Introduces
Tablet Loan Service
Emirates has introduced another service to mitigate
the inconvenience of the recent ban on electronic
devices on board US-bound flights. First and business
class passengers will now be able to borrow tablets on
board Emirates’ US-bound flights, allowing them to
continue working during their flight. The new service
is in response to the US Transportation Security
Administration directive which requires all passengers
travelling on non-stop flights to the US from Dubai
to check in their laptops, tablets, and other personal
electronic devices larger than a smartphone. As part
of this latest service, Emirates premium customers
will have a Microsoft Surface tablet equipped with
Microsoft Office 2016 available for loan on board.
Customers can download their work on to a USB stick
which can be brought on board and plugged into the
devices to continue working seamlessly. The service is
complimentary and will be available on all non-stop
flights from Dubai to Emirates’ US destinations.
SAA Realigns South
America Network
South African Airways has announced plans to realign
its South America network operations. The route
rationalization exercise is part of SA A’s on-going
business enhancement processes and enables the
airline to match capacity with demand across its entire
network. In some markets SA A has been able to deploy
bigger aircraft as well as increase frequencies in order
to satisfy demand. SA A currently operates 10 non-stop
flights between Johannesburg and Sao Paulo (Brazil)
with double daily flights on Wednesdays, Thursdays and
Saturdays (Johannesburg departures), and Thursdays,
Fridays and Sundays (Sao Paulo departures). It will drop
the three night-time departures from Johannesburg-Sao
Paulo-Johannesburg (SA224/SA225) from the schedule.
The simple daily flight schedule comprises of flight
numbers SA222 and SA223. SA222 departs Johannesburg
at 11h15 and lands in Brazil at 17h00. Flight SA223 leaves
Sao Paulo at 18h00 and arrives in Johannesburg at 17h25.
For more news, visit
MAY2017 | 11
Air Seychelles
Launches Flights to
Simon’s Town Hotel to Undergo
aha Simon’s Town Quayside Hotel, Western Cape (South Africa) closed on 18
April for refurbishment. The project is expected to take four months and cost
$650,000, and includes a complete overhaul of all bedrooms, bathrooms and
public facilities. The anticipated result is to advance the property from fourstar to a five-star status. All 26 rooms will receive a complete transformation
with an additional three rooms added, increasing the total number to 29.
The rooms will still maintain luxurious settings with nautical nuances that
enhance the overall ambience. The bath tubs in all the bathrooms, with
the exception of the family rooms will be changed out for new showers.
This is in line with environmental trends which also align with aha’s water
conservation and sustainability strateg y. Advanced technological features will
be incorporated, including the up-grading of the television sets, fast efficient
wi-fi access and new lockset handles.
Air Seychelles has launched two weekly
flights to the German city of Düsseldorf.
The Düsseldorf service will be operated
by a two-class Airbus A330 with 18 seats
in business class and 236 in economy
class, providing a total of 1,016 seats to
and from the Seychelles each week. To
extend its reach across Germany and
further enhance two-way connectivity
to the Seychelles, Air Seychelles will
codeshare on airberlin’s domestic flights
to selected cities in Germany, as well
as Etihad Airways’ double-daily service
between Düsseldorf and Abu Dhabi.
Flight HM14 departs Mahe at 21h55
on Thursdays and Sundays and lands
in Düsseldorf at 06h10 the following
morning. The return flight, HM15,
departs Germany on Mondays and
Fridays at 19h55 and arrives in Seychelles
at 08h00 the following morning.
RwandAir Flies
to Gatwick
RwandAir will commence three
weekly flights to London Gatwick
in the United Kingdom effective 26
May. London will be RwandAir's first
European and second long-haul route.
The destination will be served by the
newly acquired Airbus A330 fleet in a
triple class configuration with inflight
connectivity. RwandAir’s other new
routes for 2017 include Mumbai
(India) and Harare (Zimbabwe).
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BON Hotel Abuja, Maitama
BON Hotel Stratton Asokoro, Abuja
BON Hotel Grand Pela, Abuja
BON Hotel Delta, Warri
Protea Hotel Victoria Island operated by
BON Hotels, Lagos
Protea Hotel Ikeja operated by
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12 | MAY2017
For more news, visit
Navigate the fluctuating landscape
technolog y ban, changing
visa regulations and
enhanced security
measures at airports. The rules
for travel seem to be fluctuating
continuously, making it almost
impossible to stay abreast of the
The video of a passenger
being dragged from a United
Airways flight that went viral
reminded travellers that booking
an air ticket doesn’t necessarily
guarantee you a seat on the plane.
Most travellers are unaware of
their rights when airlines need to
bump someone off a flight. Chat
to your ASATA-accredited travel
consultant and they will tell you
that although overbooking is not
uncommon, you do have rights.
They can also give you tips on
how best to avoid being bumped
off a flight, such as showing up at
the gate before most passengers
have checked in.
Being bumped off the airline
isn’t the only concern travellers
face. The recently-imposed
electronics ban for passengers
travelling to the US via the Middle
East has also caused headaches.
Instead of being able to work on
their flights, passengers now need
to check in their laptops, iPads
and any other useful electronic
devices before boarding.
Not only are these new rules
inconvenient to travellers, they
still raise safety and security
questions. In the past, airlines
have always warned travellers
not to pack any valuables in their
luggage. What’s more is that travel
insurance is unlikely to cover any
losses as a result of theft.
Your ASATA travel consultant
will be able to advise you which
airports and airlines have been
affected by the electronics ban, as
well as tell you the new services
airlines have introduced to
minimise the impact on travellers.
Did you know that Emirates
is offering a free new ‘handling
service’ that allows travellers to
keep using laptops until the plane
takes off? And that Qatar Airways
introduced a ‘Laptop Loan’
service that will provide business
travellers with a replacement
laptop to work on during their
There is so much more to travel
than simply booking a ticket.
Your ASATA travel consultant
will be able to perfectly navigate
this difficult landscape for you,
allowing you to travel with peace
of mind.
Otto de Vries
Calling all
Travel effortlessly
with Airlink’s direct flights from Cape Town to Nelspruit.
On 2 July we will be adding a new weekday afternoon flight
for our valued business travellers, increasing convenience.
Fly Airlink
For more news, visit
MAY2017 | 13
An Eye on
West Africa
Trevor Ward
MD: W Hospitality
here are some interesting
stirrings in the West
African hotel industr y.
Whilst the Nigerian economy,
which dominates the region
(and the continent) continues
to experience no or negative
growth, and a consequent serious
downturn in the hotel industr y,
new kid on the block Mangalis
is making waves, with no fewer
than three hotels opened in the
last six months.
Mangalis, which most travellers
will have never heard of, is
a Barcelona-based hotel with
origins in Senegal. The group
started from scratch, the first to
do so since Mali-based A zalaï
entered the scene over 20 years
ago. All new builds, Mangalis
opened the Yaas in Dakar, the
Noom in Conakr y and the Seen
in Abidjan, in quick succession.
No, I don’t know where those
names came from either. Well,
'noom' means sleep in Arabic, so
perhaps that one is explanator y.
But they’re certainly memorable,
and I g uess that ’s the point.
It ’s no coincidence that all
these hotels are in Francophone
Africa, where the company is
focusing its development efforts.
This is not to the exclusion of
countries like Nigeria, where a
hotel should open soon, but eight
out of 10 hotels that Mangalis
plans to open between now and
2019, which are either under
construction or in the planning
stage of development, are in
French-speaking West Africa.
Noom is upscale, Seen midscale
and Yaas is in the economy
segment, so they are ‘covering
the bases’, whilst avoiding luxur y,
which can be the most difficult
sector in which to develop and
operate (but there are exciting
rumours that Four Seasons are
coming to West Africa!).
14 | MAY2017
Olivier Jacquin, the CEO of
Mangalis, is quoted as saying
that “we aim to be among the
largest African hospitalit y groups
active in the continent while
being the industr y’s undisputed
benchmark in terms of products,
innovation, qualit y of ser vice and
healthy growth”. Not, of course,
an unusual ambition, one which
can probably be ascribed to ever y
hotel chain working in Africa, but
Mangalis, like A zalaï, is different
in that it holds more control
than the hotel chains which are
expanding through management
agreements or similar business
models. The Mangalis model is
based on owner-operators, and
even when it works with partners,
it provides what Jacquin describes
as their ‘Plug and Play’ solution:
“The technical department at
Mangalis can be in charge of [our
partners] project management,
deploying the knowledge acquired
in the construction of our own
hotels and leveraging on our
reduced cost of construction
achieved through corporate
agreements” he says.
When introducing the Yaas brand,
the company claimed that its
modular construction model will
reduce the building time to less
than one year, enabling them
to enter a market quickly, and
take advantage of high demand
before others enter those same
markets. In Dakar, hotels such as
the Sheraton Almadies and the
InterContinental have been under
development for what seems like
ages, but the Yaas hotel is up and
running, and doing ver y well.
One reason for the focus on
Francophone Africa is simply that
the company feels comfortable
there, and it is not a target for
many of the Anglo investors, who
are less comfortable. Not that it
isn’t happening for others – the
Sheraton Grand Hotel in Conakr y
opened last year, developed by an
Asian investor, and Radisson Blu
opened in Abidjan, also last year.
The Sheraton Grand Conakr y
is a big hotel, with 269 rooms,
making it one of the largest in
West Africa, and the first of that
brand in Africa. The 187-room
Noom Conakr y is also quite
large, and together the two new
hotels bring over 450 rooms into a
market that has no branded hotels
– Novotel left the Grand Hotel de
l’Independance a few years back.
The only modern hotel of any size
there is the Hotel Camayenne,
which is unbranded. There are a
few more hotels due to enter the
market – Onomo, another African
hotel chain, with hotels operating
in six cities, are building a 155room propert y at the economy
level, whilst A zalaï and Radisson
Blu also have hotels planned, but
not yet underway.
The same names keep cropping
up, don’t they? Whilst historically
AccorHotels have dominated
the Francophone West African
hotel scene, particularly with
its Novotel brand, but also with
Pullman and Ibis, it is now facing
stiff competition, mainly from
home-grown hotel companies, all
three of which – A zalaï, Mangalis
and Onomo – have adopted a
different model by building and
operating hotels that they own.
That ’s not to downplay the
successes of Marriott, Radisson
Blu and others that are also
opening hotels in Francophone
West Africa. But the local players
are really giving them a run for
their money and. C
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Show value
The global MICE industry remains under pressure to create and show
value, in the face of constrained budgets and demanding clients. But it’s
not all doom and gloom.
16 | MAY2017
MAY2017 | 17
he MICE industry is
not immune from the
challenging economic
conditions facing just about all of
the world’s major markets. That’s
regardless of whether you’re a
meeting organizer, an incentive
programme, conference or
Throw in the unpredictability
of the African market and the
‘up and down’ nature of the
continent’s fluctuating fortunes –
particularly as currently seen in
some of Africa’s biggest economies
– and you have a difficult job for
those tasked with identifying
trends and spotting recurrent
According to Advito’s Industry
Forecast, looking at 2016 and
throwing forward to this year,
“Africa has presented a mixed
economic picture. Insecurity and
political instability afflict the
North, while growth has slowed
in sub-Saharan oil-producing
nations such as Nigeria and
Angola. However, solid growth
continues in much of the rest of
the continent, and that means
travel demand in most countries is
firmly on the rise.”
The same source notes that
the continent’s airlines are
expanding their networks in
18 | MAY2017
“ If you look at the considerable
development in product (hotels)
in Africa, this supports the
notion that the MICE market
is strengthening in Africa. ”
response to the intensifying
demand. Other nations’ carriers
– outside of Africa – are also
increasing their capacity, with
Turkish Airlines “perhaps the most
ambitious of all.” It has grown
its African network from 13 to 44
destinations since 2009, including
secondary markets like Benin and
Madagascar. In that way, Turkey’s
national carrier has followed the
lead set by fellow Middle Eastern
carriers Emirates and Etihad.
Reed Travel Exhibitions picks up
on this favourable view on Africa
in its ‘ibtm World Trends Watch
Report 2016’, noting that “the
supply of hotel rooms designed to
western standards is increasing as
chains such as Marriott expand
their presence in Africa. Merger
partner Starwood is expanding
too, with an African pipeline
that includes new properties in
countries including Ethiopia,
Kenya, Senegal and Tanzania.
Other global chains, including
Carlson Rezidor and Hilton, are
also investing in the region,
increasing consumer choice.”
“If you look at the considerable
development in product (hotels)
in Africa, this supports the
notion that the MICE market is
strengthening in Africa,” says
Pauline Wilkinson, Group Sales
Operations Manager, Protea
Hotels by Marriott & African
Pride Hotels. “MICE houses are
looking to expand their offering
to include tailored experiences
for their customers, and this
includes options to explore
destinations and create more
memorable experiences. With
more flights into the continent,
it has become more accessible to
the global traveller. The continent
has also seen great investment in
infrastructure (better roads, better
facilities, improved technolog y,
internet connections etc), which
are required to host a successful
MICE event.”
The ibtm World Trends Watch
Report 2016 goes on to identify
additional infrastructural
development in the form of the
growing supply of convention
centres on the Africa continent.
Among them, the Centre
International de Conférences
d'Alger (CICA) is North Africa's
newest and largest venue for
conferences, exhibitions, weddings
and special events. Opened in
the second quarter of 2016, this
270,000m 2 facility is situated in
the exclusive Club des Pins area
of Algiers, and is expected to
welcome hundreds of thousands of
guests each year.
In West Africa, one could
add the Calabar International
Convention Centre, which opened
in Cross River State, Nigeria in the
past 18 months. A bit further east
you have the Kigali Convention
Centre, which opened in 2016,
and which Rwandans hope will
put the country on the conference
map, whilst at the southern end of
Africa, Cape Town’s relatively-new
Century City Conference Centre
now complements the renowned
Cape Town International
Convention Centre (CTICC). This
Nothing beats the high level of interaction and collaboration that
comes with meeting face to face and off site. The opportunities
to connect, engage and create that conferences offer promote
teamwork, productivity and performance.
Since it was established in the 1980s, Sun International’s Sun City
in the North West Province has been entrenched as a preferred
destination for corporate conferencing. It’s not difficult to
understand why. Only a 90-minute drive from Pretoria and
two hours from Johannesburg, Sun City combines excellent
accommodation, conferencing facilities, restaurants and
leisure activities in an idyllic setting.
Sun City is a place that never sleeps, with an array of experiences
available to delegates after hours which make conferencing at
Sun City unique; from hot-air balloon rides and game drives at
the nearby Pilanesberg National Park to beach parties at the
Valley of Waves, socialising at the Shebeen, beer tasting at sunset
at The Brew Monkey, dinner at the Wallow, gaming at the casino
and reveling on the dance floor at the night club. When it comes
to conferencing with a twist, Sun City is hard to match.
The resort has carefully crafted its facilities and services to
meet today’s business travellers. Taking its conferencing and
conventions offering to the next level is the focus, as well
as on providing consolidated conference experiences.
Companies don't only have access to a range of well-equipped
meeting rooms and conference venues, but they can also
add morale-building and leisure activities to their bespoke
conference packages. All the senses are catered for, from
state-of-the-art technologies and facilities, to sporting and
leisure activities.
The choices are diverse; playing golf on two world-class golf
courses; thrilling activities such as Drift Trikes, Hovercrafts and
a 4x4 Grizzly Quad Challenge at the new Adrenaline Extreme;
water sports at Waterworld; rejuvenating treatments at the spa
and confidence-testing water rides at the Valley of Waves.
The iconic Entertainment Centre re-launched as Sun Central
during November 2016, and will boast an optimised convention
centre on the upper level as well as a suite of other experiences.
“Our focus is on creating flexible and holistic conference
packages, bolstered by new modern facilities, to ensure
that Sun City retains its place as a premier convention destination in South Africa,” says Andrew Irumba, Sun City Marketing
Sun City’s awards:
Leading African Resort and Leading Casino Resort
in the World Travel Awards 2016.
Best Grand Hotel Golf Course
in the Golf Digest Editor’s Choice Awards.
Best Local Holiday Destination
in the 2016 Sunday Times Generation Next Awards.
2016 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence,
awarded for the King Tower at The Palace.
Best Luxury Spa Group on the African Continent
in the 2016 World Luxury Spa Awards.
Best Weekend Getaway
in the 2016 Readers Choice Awards for Joburg and Pretoria.
development has only strengthened
Cape Town’s positioning as an
African conference and exhibition
venue of choice.
Further to that, the second half
of 2017 will see the completion of
CTICC’s expansion project. CTICC
East is 31,148m 2 in extent and will
offer 10,000m 2 of multi-purpose
exhibition and conference space,
as well as 3,000m 2 of formal and
informal meeting space. Facilities
in CTICC East will include six
exhibition halls, four meeting
suites, five meeting pod rooms,
two terrace rooms, a rooftop
garden and a new coffee shop.
“The expansion will not only
enable us to host more events
and larger events, but it will also
provide us with the flexibility
to host large-scale events
concurrently,” says Julie-May
Ellingson, CTICC Chief Executive
Officer. “The expansion will offer
more venue options to clients and
will provide existing clients with
more space to grow their events.”
CTICC and its fellow big South
African convention centre players,
Sandton Convention Centre
(Johannesburg) and Inkosi Albert
Luthuli International Convention
Centre (Durban), will no doubt
look to continue benefitting
from the current low value of the
Rand, which offers the potential
20 | MAY2017
of positioning South Africa as
an excellent value-for-money
Whilst South Africa remains,
arguably, Africa’s premier
conference and exhibition
destination, the rest of the
continent’s major MICE players
are at least making up some
ground, if one takes into account
some of the developments already
“Africa has excellent lodges and
international conference facilities
to select from,” says AnnaLize Scully, International Sales
Executive for Peermont Hotels
Casinos Resorts, which operates
13 properties across South Africa,
Botswana and Malawi. “For
example, Botswana, Malawi,
Morocco, Kenya and Ethiopia.
South Africa definitely has
competition right on its doorstep.
Universities, organisations and
companies are also exploring
Africa to find niche encounters.”
No surprise to hear that costcutting is a major theme in the
conferencing space, and this was
one of the standout responses
from those canvassed in the South
African MICE industry. That being
said, the mood remains fairly
“The MICE market continues
to perform well, although
cost containment is a major
feature in an economy under
pressure,” says Zoleka Skweyiya,
Sun International’s Group
Communications Manager. “But
the South African events industry
is fairly robust and we continue
to be bullish about its sustainable
growth potential.”
“From an international
conferencing point of view, the
weakening of the Rand does help,
but this isn’t enough on its own.
Convention organisers are looking
for superlative value for money
and are thinking twice about how
much they spend getting to a
destination. In this, South Africa
is at somewhat of a disadvantage
being a long-haul destination.”
The general cost-cutting
approach clearly has an impact on
what types of events clients are
now looking for and accepting are
within their budget.
“We have noted that the
spending is more conservative
(wanting the basics), which also
leads companies towards doing inhouse conferencing or opting for
video conferencing,” says Celeste
Schroder, National Sales Manager
for aha Hotels & Lodges. “Some
companies also opt for same-day
conferencing to avoid travelling
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across South Africa, Botswana and Zambia.
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costs and overnight hotel costs.”
“Clients are more conservative
in their requests and opt for
the lowest costs. For bigger
conferences, clients opt for
schoolroom-style seating with
breakaway rooms. For smaller
conferences, they normally opt
for u-shape-style seating or
Speaking of smaller events,
Adriaan Liebetrau has a similar
view. He’s the Sales & Marketing
Manager for Tsogo Sun, looking
after the ‘Sandton Mile’, which
incorporates the Sandton Sun, the
InterContinental Johannesburg
Sandton Towers, Sandton
Convention Centre, and the
adjacent Garden Court.
“The trends in this sector
have been consistent in recent
years: smaller conferences, fewer
conference days, closer to home
venues and less extravagant
entertainment programmes,”
he says. “In the past, as with
the rise in ‘ConfEx’ events,
where delegates would attend a
conference with an exhibition
component, we are seeing more of
what are deemed ‘bleisure’ trips,
where delegates are combining
their business trips with leisure
22 | MAY2017
downtime and bringing the family
along for pre or post-conference
A reduction in spend not only
has an impact on what types of
events clients are now looking for,
but also the types of venues that
now come into play.
“There is a huge cutback that we
are experiencing from government
departments,” says Guy Stehlik,
CEO of BON Hotels. “This
doesn’t mean that conferences
are not taking place, but we
definitely note that this market
is looking at the mid-market
hotels, rather than the properties
they previously supported. There
is huge competition within the
mid-market, which is good for the
end-user, but can be dangerous for
the hotel market. Within the midmarket South African conference
space, we are incredibly reliant
on government conferencing.
With government budget
cutbacks, hoteliers are going to
be challenged to find alternative
market segments or niches
within the market to encourage
conference business. Clients will
be swayed by price and vote with
their feet, which can often lead to
a price-cutting downward spiral.”
“ The trends in this sector have
been consistent in recent years:
smaller conferences, fewer
conference days, closer to home
venues and less extravagant
entertainment programmes. ”
The Birchwood Hotel & OR
Tambo Conference Centre,
situated in close proximity to
South Africa’s biggest airport
in Johannesburg, is one of the
country’s largest conference
venues and usually a good
bellwether of the state of the
Founder and Director Kevin
Clarence has just about seen it
all before, and whilst he admits
that spend is down, he remains
positive about the year ahead.
“Based on the first few months
of 2017, we certainly can be
positive about the current state
of the industry,” he says. “The
trend of taking delegates away
from their own offices to meet and
conference certainly decreased
in 2016, as so many groups were
saving costs. However, in light of
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the requests that we are currently
receiving, we look forward to a
change from last year. What is
also evident is the need for less
traditional set-ups and requests.
Meetings and events are breaking
away from the norm, and this
alludes to the need for clients to
make use of external facilities that
provide specialized environments
with the tools to host such a
unique conference or event.”
Consolidation appears to be a
by-product of the reduction in
spend available.
“Clients are rather combining
their requirements,” says Clarence.
“For example, where a client used
to hold a conference and later in
the year, their exhibition – they
now combine all of that during
their time with us by conferencing
and hosting an exhibition in an
adjacent venue.”
So, that’s the view on the impact
of cost-cutting, but let’s drill down
even further and delve more into
the actual events themselves,
the format, and what clients are
looking for in this current climate.
Cape Town International
Convention Centre is one of
South Africa’s premier conference
and exhibition destinations. The
CTICC hosted 39 international
conferences and 28 national
conferences in its 2015/16 financial
year, so is well-placed to comment
on some of the trends in the
conferencing space.
“In conventions, the buzzwords
are flexibility and interactivity,”
says Ellingson. “According to a
trend report by the International
Association of Convention Centres
(AIPC), conference producers are
trying out new conference and
meeting formats and are focusing
on creating different types of
engagement and networking
experiences. They want multifunctional, less formal spaces that
can adapt to different types of
seating structures, new technolog y
systems and digital tools.”
Along similar lines, this
appears to be the basis for Sun
International launching its
SunPark concept in 2016.
SunParks at Sun International’s
various properties provide event
organisers with a fully scalable
multi-purpose facility with an
24 | MAY2017
indoor events venue and outdoor
space for hosting exhibitions,
events, product launches and
even music festivals. The key
is the versatility. The modular
design of the entertainment space
allows conference, events, or
festival organisers to “plug in”
their requirements and change
the nature and look of the space
depending on their needs and the
size of event they’re holding.
“Existing exhibition and
conference facilities in South
Africa are primarily geared
towards major event concepts and
there are very few venues which
cater specifically – or can be
transformed – for small to medium
boutique events,” says Skweyiya.
This market currently represents
well over 80% of all event
activities in South Africa.”
“Over the past 15 years, we’ve
noted a growing tendency towards
boutique and specialised event
concepts and brand activation
initiatives. We identified a
huge gap in the South African
conferencing and events industry.”
That’s not just a South African
phenomenon, with Marriott also
picking up on this theme.
“Meetings planners are
conscious of meeting spaces and
are looking for greater flexibility
to utilise space more effectively
for the purpose of the event,”
says Wilkinson. “Training
venues versus brainstorming
meetings need to create the right
atmosphere in order to derive
the right return on investment in
hosting the event. There is a drive
to engage with smaller teams in
unique spaces, which enhance the
interaction between participants.”
Another consistent theme or
element in conferencing that keeps
popping up is the reference to
‘technolog y’, which is obviously
a broad term that could mean
different things to different event
organisers. No big surprise that
technolog y pops up, considering
our modern-day dependence on
all things technological just to get
through a standard day and be
So, how is this being applied in
the events space?
“Most corporates have started
seeing technolog y as a way to
work smarter and more efficiently,
and they are looking to their travel
agents and MICE organisers to
offer solutions,” says Charmaine
Chinappan, Sales Executive for
Peermont. “One example is that
often companies are requesting a
more streamlined RSVP system.
They want a dedicated website for
their event, or even a dedicated
“The diffusion of technolog y
and devices mean that exhibition
and conference organisers are
demanding flexible technolog y
(including wi-fi), audio-visual
(AV) features they can control, and
a connectivity offering that caters
for a wide variety of devices,” says
Ellingson. “Advances in mobile
technologies have allowed for a
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plethora of devices and operating
Technolog y can obviously play
a role in distinguishing an event
from its competitors and possibly
elevating it ‘beyond the norm’.
“In conferencing, technology is
becoming increasingly important to
offer exclusive experiences which
are streamlined and memorable,”
says Pascale Prinsloo, Marketing &
Social Media Creative Coordinator
for Tourvest Incentives, Meetings
& Events. “Virtual Reality is fast
becoming a buzzword offering that
‘Wow’ factor.”
26 | MAY2017
“Customers are continuously
looking at ways to enhance
networking at their events,”
says Wilkinson. “This includes
personalised apps, social media
and other forms of communication
to drive participation. This
can expand to pre, during and
after the actual event, ensuring
amplified communication
between participants. There
is a larger demand for higher
quality bandwidth in order to
accommodate larger volumes of
traffic on the wi-fi network, which
customers also anticipate will
be complimentary as part of the
So, that’s technolog y. What
about that other major element
that each event can’t do without? I
mean, a delegate has to eat.
“Delegates and visitors have
become more demanding when
it comes to a food experience,”
says Ellingson. “As food and
dietary trends evolve, there is
more pressure on convention
centres to not just feed delegates
but to impress them and satisfy
individual dietary requirements.”
What this often means, it seems,
is a greater focus on food that is
better for you.
“Food and beverage is leaning
towards healthier lifestyle
choices,” says Skweyiya. “While
fine dining will always be popular,
there is a global move towards
more casual dining environments
that still offer high quality dining
“Customers are more and
more demanding personalisation
in terms of the offering,” says
Wilkinson. “The standard tea/
coffee breaks are no longer
sufficient with sandwiches and
cookies. Customers are looking
for us to cater to their individual
needs, and as such we provide
tailored menus and experiences to
create atmosphere for the event.”
What are some of the other
trends event organisers are seeing
in the conference space?
“A lot more break-time during
conferences,” says Stehlik.
“Instead of delegates cramming
activities, networking, meals, and
conferencing, we have noticed
that delegates are given a lot
more free time to rest, prepare
their thoughts and network. Also,
a greater spacing out of events
during a conference day is also
an emerging trend, whilst natural
light and natural ventilation are
also often a request.”
“The ‘kidulting’ trend is making
its way into the convention arena
and we’ve spotted ice-cream and
confectionery stations, colouringin walls, and other ‘playful’
activities at recent conferences,”
says Ellingson.
“Location can also be critical
to the success of the event,” says
Wilkinson. “Meeting planners are
With a name like Île de la Réunion (The Meeting
Island), no surprise that Reunion Island is
positioning itself as a meetings and incentives
destination of choice.
A French department in the Indian Ocean to the
east of Madagascar, Reunion lies on a volcanic
hot spot, which partly explains the abundance
of flora. Throughout the year it has a tropical
climate tempered by the ocean and trade winds,
with temperatures between 20°C and 30°C.
From the blue lagoon to the rocky cliff sides,
the coastline allows for a lot of water sports
and other related activities, such as swimming,
deep sea diving and fishing. Hiking fans will
enjoy exploring the island’s mountain range and
nature reserves.
cognisant of how attendees will
spend their spare time. If private
time is important to the meeting,
the location needs to facilitate
options for delegates to experience
the city or destination they are in.
Conversely, there are events where
the focus of the event is on teambuilding and where you don’t
want to have attendees leaving the
group to do personal activities.
Here the location may be more
remote, so attendees stay with the
group during the event.”
So, what does the future look
“Despite a volatile rate of
exchange, bookings are expected
to remain fairly static with even
slight increases in demand on
the horizon,” says Charmaine
Chinappan, Sales Executive for
Peermont. “Unfortunately, we
can’t expect massive increases in
budgets as a result of the weak
Rand. However, a slight increase
in budgets is likely and the truth
of the matter is that meetings will
have to take place in the corporate
and local government industry.
Lead times will remain quite
steady with two to three months
lead time for smaller events, and
six months to one-year lead time
for larger events and incentives.”
The ibtm World Trends Watch
Report 2016 states that one of the
most authoritative annual surveys
of the incentive travel market
is the one conducted jointly by
MeetingsNet and the Incentive
Research Foundation (IRF). Most
28 | MAY2017
of the planners surveyed are
North America-based, but the
ibtm report argues that “given the
international importance of that
market, the survey’s findings are
of interest to suppliers worldwide.”
The 2016/2017 survey points to
a continuing rally in demand for
incentive travel, as it indicates
that budgets are expanding and
incentive programmes are growing,
building on the turnaround in the
market seen in 2015. In 2008, the
MeetingsNet/IRF survey marked
the average per-person spending
on incentive travel programmes
at $3,659, but it was all downhill
from there. For seven years,
spending took a steady dive,
hitting a low of $2,397 in 2014.
Finally, last year, things started
to change in a positive direction,
with rising budgets and rising
per-person spending on incentive
trips. This year, according to the
report, the recovery continues,
with respondents’ 2016 average
per-person incentive spending
at $3,165. This represents the
largest year-on-year jump since
the recession, an average incentive
budget change in 2016 of +2.69
All of this provides interesting
insight into the global incentive
travel market, but obviously
doesn’t take into account the
vagaries and unique characteristics
of the African incentive space.
Speaking to some of the major
players in the South African
market, once gets the sense that
spend is still very much the
prevailing theme.
Long before the island became a meetings
destination, it was already a meeting point for
European, African, Indian and Chinese cultures.
Thus, events, festivals, architecture and
gastronomy have evolved into a warm, festive
and spicy mix, perhaps best represented by the
warm Creole hospitality.
Reunion guarantees the same levels of comfort
and standard of living you would expect from
a European destination. There is no need for
vaccinations, it is malaria-free, offers state of
the art communication technology, and is safe
and secure.
Reunion is visa-free for South Africans and only
a four-hour flight from Johannesburg on Air
Austral, which offers three weekly flights.
The hotels on offer are as varied in style and
location as they are alike in their hospitality.
They can be found in the charming towns,
tourist hotspots or coastal centres. Private
tennis courts, swimming pools and other
facilities are commonly available, and all hotels
are up to European standards.
This is according to Top 3 Meetings, a leading
Malta-based destination management company
that specializes in organizing meetings,
incentive events, conferences, exhibitions and
Increase in pre/post-event connections
Personalised experiences
Social and local impacts
Virtual Reality and beyond…
Virtual assistants
Shared facilitating
Non-traditional meeting spaces
Social media
“The spending with regards
to incentive travelling has been
reduced,” says Schroder of aha
Hotels & Lodges, which offers
MICE venues across South Africa,
Botswana and Zambia. “More and
more companies now tend to offer
local incentives, and it’s not as
ostentatious and glamorous as it
used to be.”
“Economising is fast becoming
the reality, with many factors at
play influencing decisions,” says
Prinsloo. “There is a big drive to
remain relative and innovative
during this progression.”
And that’s the key, isn’t it?
Trying to remain relevant and
innovative despite the challenging
economic environment. This is
where incentive operators are
really having to earn their corn.
Some of those operators are
actually quite bullish and believe
the industry isn’t as challenged as
some would suggest.
“The incentive travel industry
is growing and is predicted to
continue to grow at a steady pace
throughout the year to come,” says
Chinappan. “Although in South
Africa the volatile rate of exchange
is likely to continue to impact on
the travel industry, the demand for
meetings is on the rise and MICE
budgets remain steady.”
So, what is the incentive client
of today looking for?
“Incentive customers want
tailor-made before or after
excursions to experience South
Africa’s natural beauty, but
keeping their own interests and
privacy in mind,” says Scully of
Peermont. “They are always keen
to find a new and more exclusive
venue. Convenience and safety
remain the ultimate decision
“Exotic destinations such as
Vietnam are popular for 2017,”
says Chinappan. “Although
companies rarely allow delegates
to bring along their spouses on a
MICE trip, once the conference is
finished, delegates are keen to fly
out their loved ones and extend
their stay by a couple of days to
explore the destination.”
“Wellness vacations and yoga
retreats are not a big hit with
South African travellers yet. For a
large majority of the population,
travelling is still a bit of a novelty.
They usually want to experience
the destination to the fullest
and are not ready to concentrate
on just one niche aspect of
their destination. Also, social
responsibility projects are not high
on the list of priorities for South
African companies yet, although
this could become more of a focus
in the year to come.”
According to the Association of
African Exhibition Organisers
(A A XO), the exhibition industry
in South Africa alone is valued
at R75bn ($5.7bn), if one takes
MAY2017 | 29
into account direct, indirect
and induced spend. That’s
an impressive number and
an indication as to just how
important the exhibition industry
is to the overall MICE mix in
South Africa.
“The tourism impact of
exhibitions in South Africa alone
is R23bn ($1.7bn),” says Carol
Weaving, A A XO Chairperson and
Managing Director of Thebe Reed
Exhibitions. “Exhibitions have
always been underestimated in
terms of the value they bring to
a city, province or country, and
it is time that governments take
These statistics are according
to an A A XO-commissioned Grant
Thornton study on the economic
impact of the exhibition industry,
which also showed that the total
number of jobs created by the
exhibition industry in South
Africa during the period surveyed
totalled around 153,000.
“The exhibition industry has
seen significant growth over
the past ten years with many
international organisers setting
their sights on the South African
and African exhibition industry
as a new frontier for growth,”
says Weaving. “They have either
entered the market via acquisitions
30 | MAY2017
or geo clones from their mother
brands overseas. Over 50% of
the events in South Africa, 60%
in Nigeria, and over 70% in
Kenya are run by international
companies, many with local
Ellingson would seemingly back
that up.
“The exhibitions industry in
South Africa remains strong,” she
says. “In fact, according to the
17th Global Exhibitions Barometer
by the Global Association of
the Exhibition Industry (UFI),
44% of South African companies
in the industry experienced an
increase of more than 10% in
annual profits over the past year.
The report also indicates that
expectations remain high that the
industry will continue to grow in
2017. We’ve hosted 33 exhibitions
in the past two years.”
Looking at the African continent
as a whole, the A A XO report goes
on to say that the economic future
for sub-Saharan Africa looks
very positive and is increasingly
attracting international investment
“Thanks to positive government
reforms and political stability
across many markets, the business
environment continues to improve,
with Kenya, for example, moving
“ The exhibition industry has
seen significant growth over
the past ten years with many
international organisers setting
their sights on the South African
and African exhibition industry
as a new frontier for growth. ”
from 129th in 2014 to 92nd in 2017
in the World Bank Group’s “Ease
of Doing Business” index,” says
Venue capacity is a barrier to the
growth potential in these markets,
with the venue capacity in Nigeria
making up only a third of the
venue capacity in South Africa.
“While Africa is becoming less
dependent on mining, oil, gas,
minerals and commodity prices,
its economies are increasingly
being driven by domestic demand
in the consumer-facing and
services sectors, such as banking,
telecommunications, construction,
infrastructure and FMCG,” says
Weaving. “Yet, regardless of
how quickly the demand and
economies are growing, these
industries are still not sufficiently
represented when it comes to
exhibitions and events.”
So, that’s the backdrop. Once
again, lets drill down to see
what’s currently being done on the
ground with exhibitions and what
some of the trends are, as it relates
to the industry in Africa.
“Organisers are paying
more attention to the delegate
experience,” says Liebetrau. “Key
focus is given to pre-exhibition
arrival and aspects such as how
to co-ordinate that the right
people meet and how we share
information that is relevant to
build excitement around their
event. Technolog y is also playing
a larger role and organisers
have become more aware of how
people move between passages.
Allowances are now being made
for pause areas where delegates
can catch up with the office and
enjoy social connections.”
“The ‘confexing’ trend has been
with us for a number of years,
as event organisers realise the
benefits of combining exhibitions
with their conferences,” says
Ellingson. “We regularly host
large medical and scientific
conferences that incorporate
an exhibition component.
For delegates, an exhibition
component offers a richer learning
experience, an opportunity to
gain product knowledge, and
the chance to access innovations
first-hand. From the exhibitor’s
perspective, the company knows
that it will have access to a
bespoke target audience, and for
the organiser, the exhibition offers
an opportunity to provide valueadd to sponsors and generate
“One recent example is the
World Congress of the Royal
College of Obstetricians &
Gynaecologists in March, where
the scientific programme was well
supported by an exhibition of
the latest in surgical and medical
equipment, procedures, and
technolog y related to obstetrics.”
Liebetrau and Birchwood’s
Kevin Clarence are on the same
“This is certainly not a trend
that will go away soon,” says
Liebetrau. “The ‘ConfEx’ approach
allows for the delegate to gain
practical insights and exposure
to products in person, instead
of relying on the traditional
conference approach for imparting
knowledge and upskilling
delegates. This is also an
effective way to boost conference
profits making the event more
“I foresee a massive increase
in ‘confexing’ from this year,”
says Clarence. “Not only is this
good for our delegates, but for
business owners and new product
entrepreneurs who are given the
Marriott Rewards South Africa_210x94.5mm_op1.pdf
opportunity to exhibit there as
well. The conference, seminar or
product launch is in conjunction
with the exhibition – whether that
is in the same venue or nearby.
Clients opt for an ‘experience’
rather than standard agenda,
leaving them with memorable
event, instead of a meeting that
could have been likened to any
other one.”
Looking back at the A A XO
report, it says that in terms of
consumer shows in South Africa,
there has been a trend which has
shown significant growth in terms
of the number of shows, but that
the number of visitors who attend
some shows is declining slightly.
“It’s important for consumer
show organisers to re-invent,
ensure the visitor is entertained
and gets value for money,” says
Weaving. “We are now seeing
this shift in offering more
content, ‘educationals’ and live
entertainment, and ensuring the
consumer gets bang for his buck.”
Whether you’re a meeting,
incentive, conference or exhibition,
that’s surely what it’s all about?
Weaving hits the nail on the
head – you’ve got to ensure that
there’s a return on investment, and
you’ve just got to show value. C
5:40 PM
MAY2017 | 31
Here are five reasons to
extend your next business trip to Gauteng.
Maboneng, on the eastern side of the Johannesburg CBD, began with Arts on Main, a place for local artists and craftsmen
to sell their products. The area has evolved into the epicentre of the Jo'burg inner-city renaissance. ZA Etc is a multi-brand
store that showcases both local and international accessory designers and small studio manufactures. The Collectors Club
is a retail and online store inspired by all things collectable. The Sneaker Shack is a place where people can bring their
sneakers to be professionally cleaned and also experience the culture around sneaker ownership and people. The Precinct
is where hip new craft meets African influences. VintiQueen sells all things vintage – clothing, accessories and handbags –
collected from different parts of the world. Shakers Cocktail offers a wide selection of drinks, ranging from classic cocktails
to a large selection of signature JamJars, coffee and craft beer. Thalis Roadside serves great curry, samoosas, bunny chow
and rotis and James XVI serves authentic Ethiopian cuisine, while Che brings a taste of Argentina to South Africa.
If you want to learn about history and nature, or see collections of
art, ox wagons, and photography equipment, you’ll have a great time
visiting some of Gauteng’s 30-odd museums. The South African
Airways Museum Society houses a collection of South African
Airways memorabilia such as photos and aircraft scale models. The
Mapungubwe Collection comprises ceramics, metals, trade glass beads,
indigenous beads, clay figurines, and more from the Mapungubwe
archaeological site. The James Hall Transport Museum is the largest
transport museum in Africa, aimed at preserving and promoting the
history of over 400 years of transport in South Africa. Freedom Park is
a war memorial from the South African Wars, World War I and II and
the Apartheid era. The Adler Museum of Medicine began as a private
collection of Dr and Mrs Adler in 1962, and now consists of over 40,000
objects depicting the history of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy.
Linksfield Ridge House was once the home of L Ron Hubbard, founder
of Scientology, and has been restored and preserved for visitors.
Liliesleaf farm is a former place of safety for anti-Apartheid activists and
an interactive and historical museum in Rivonia.
32 | MAY2017
According to the Gauteng government, 60% of tourists from
the rest of the continent cite shopping as their reason for
visiting the province, so Gauteng’s rich collection of shopping
opportunities is sure to offer you the perfect opportunity for
a little retail therapy. Melrose Arch, Sandton City Shopping
Centre and Rosebank Mall, all in the north of Johannesburg,
will fulfil your desire for both local and international brands.
Whether you’re looking to spice up your closet, spruce up your
kitchen or add a special touch to your living room, there is
bound to be a shop selling exactly what you’re after. Look out
for new entrants to the South African market – H&M, Burberry,
Bvlgari, Topshop, Zara, Lipsy London and Dune London. If
you’re looking to support local merchants and craftsmen, don’t
miss the Rosebank Sunday Market where Joburgers sell their
wares to the public. Norwood is the place to go if you’re into
antiques and Melville’s Main and Seventh streets are where
you’ll find second-hand book stores. The Bryanston Organic
Market sells only handmade and organic items.
Night life
If you enjoy spending your evenings socialising, Gauteng does
not disappoint. Braamfontein, Sandton, Rosebank, Greenside,
Newtown, Maboneng, Melville and many other areas all offer night
time vibes, with bars, clubs and pubs to suit just about every taste.
Melville’s Hell’s Kitchen is an alternative haven for those who are
into the 'rockabilly' vibe. Great Dane in Braamfontein is a casual
spot and a great place for a little dancing. Next door is Kitcheners,
a casual but trendy bar. In Newtown, Bassline is known for its
jazz. Rivonia’s Manhattan Club offers up an evening of class and
sophistication. The list of venues and functions is long, but a quick
Google search will help you narrow down your prospects for an
evening out.
Gold Reef City
A day of fun awaits you at Gold Reef City in the south of
Johannesburg. Built around an authentic 19th century
gold mine, it combines historical attractions with some
of the most thrilling rides in the southern hemisphere.
Start your visit with a Jozi's Story of Gold tour through
the variety of museums offering a peek in to what life was
like in the burgeoning mining camp in the 19th century.
Underground tours of the mine as well as a gold-pouring
demonstration are also on offer. The theme park attracts
kids of all ages with carnival rides and roller coasters.
Catch the latest Hollywood blockbusters at the new
cinema complex or take in a show at the Lyric Theatre.
The casino caters for everybody's gaming tastes with
over 1,700 slot machines and 50 tables.
MAY2017 | 33
The Friendship International Hotel
BACKGROUND: Though still a new
establishment, this independent,
four-star hotel (according to Ethiopian
standards) is ideal for business and
leisure travellers. While I'd grade it as
a 'three-point-five-star' establishment,
according to South African standards,
it’s perfectly adequate.
WHERE IS IT? The Friendship
International Hotel is located on
Africa Avenue in central Addis Ababa,
less than two kilometres from Addis
Ababa Bole International Airport. The
complimentary airport drop-off and
pick-up service will ensure you're there
within minutes, and Edna Mall is at the
end of the street.
ROOM FACILITIES: The hotel has
104 rooms across 11 floors ranging from
the Standard Twin, Queen, King and
Deluxe to the Royal Suite. Each room is
decorated in warm earthly colours, has
a work desk, seating area and extensive
cupboard space with a built-in safe big
enough to fit a large laptop. My 38m 2
Deluxe room had a 42-inch, flat-screen
TV with international satellite channels
so I could watch the news in the
evenings. My small balcony looked out
onto the central business district. Leisure
travellers will be pleased to know that
there are seven family rooms, as well
as rooms equipped for the physically
challenged, while the 9th and 10th floor
are solely reserved for smoking guests.
Bottled water, tea and coffee facilities
come standard and the mini-bar can
be filled upon request. The granite-top
bathrooms each have a jacuzzi bath and
steam shower, plus a make-up mirror
34 | MAY2017
and toilet facilities that adhere to Islamic
etiquette. Each room comes with plush,
white bath robes and slippers, while
laundry and dry-cleaning services are
available for an additional charge.
menu of local and international dishes
caters to vegans and meat lovers. The
complimentary buffet breakfast offers
an assortment of pastries, breads and
cakes, as well as fresh fruit, salads, cold
meats and cheeses, including a variety of
hot meals. You'll find the regulars, such
as eggs and sausages (though you'll be
hard pressed to find bacon in Ethiopia),
sautéed vegetables and an omelette
stand; alongside samoosas and vegetable
stews. I tried Injera fir-fir, an Ethiopian
breakfast dish made of shredded,
sourdough flatbread (injera) wrapped
around sautéed onions, berbere spice
and butter. It may also be served with
shiro (chickpea paste). Though no-one
blinked when I ate like the locals, using
my left hand, tables are set according to
international standards. There's also a
café downstairs that serves single-origin
Ethiopian coffee, as well as an adjoining
bar. Should you prefer the comfort of
your room, there's 24-hour room service.
FACILITIES: The hotel offers free,
uncapped and reliable wi-fi for
an unlimited number of electronic
devices. I mentioned that I needed a
strong internet connection and was
accommodated near the router on my
floor. While I comfortably worked at
the desk, which has a universal power
outlet strip located above it, there's
also a 24/7 business centre, which has
three computers, a printer and scanner.
The function area, which is ideal for
welcome drinks and a buffet service,
can seat 250, while the multi-purpose
conference room can easily accommodate
450 individuals with classroom-style
seating. The boardroom is equipped with
audiovisual technology and can seat 32
around the executive table.
small gym on the ground floor has a
selection of standard gym equipment
adequate for cardio training as well as a
weight lifting area, while the spa has a
sauna. Both are open 24 hours a day. AV
Club, in the basement next door (worry
not, the soundproofing is good), is one
of Addis' most popular night clubs. It
hosts the country's top DJs, is open from
Tuesday to Sunday and hotel guests
enjoy free entrance.
VERDICT: Though the decor in the
hotel's communal areas may be slightly
over the top, don't let that colour your
judgement as the hotel staff go to great
lengths to make guests feel at home.
They are the hotel's greatest asset; no
wonder it's called the Friendship Hotel. C
Iga Motylska
A: Africa Avenue, Addis Ababa
T: +251-11-667-0202
Virgin Atlantic B787 Upper Class
BACKGROUND: Virgin Atlantic began
flying its Boeing 787 to Johannesburg
in November 2015. The plane offers
31 upper class seats, 35 in premium
economy and 198 in economy. The upper
class cabin features a bar area where
passengers can socialise and get a drink
throughout the flight.
flatbread from the light menu and
washed it down with a ginger and
lemongrass cordial and soda water. Allin-all, a very pleasant place to wait for
your flight. Boarding was announced
and began on time, with a priority queue
for upper class and premium economy
CHECK-IN: Queues at the check-in
desks for the Sunday night flight were
short, however it took me a while to
complete the process. I wanted to check
my luggage all the way to my final
destination, Seattle, which, being a
new route, wasn’t on the system. The
problem was sorted at the ticketing
counter, where I was given a code for
a manual luggage tag. The staff were
pleasant and helpful throughout the
process. I joined the long queue for
security and was airside 45 minutes
THE SEAT: Upper class seats are angled
diagonally and give all passengers direct
aisle access. Seats convert to fully flat
beds and with a mattress pad, duvet and
pillow, make for a great bed in the sky.
Once flat, the pods, which allow for a lot
of privacy, offer a generous amount of
sleeping space. Unlike other airline beds,
you don’t have to cram your feet into
a covered foot well and the arm rests
don’t cut into your space. The T V screen
pops out on a moveable arm to allow
for straight-on viewing. The in-flight
entertainment system – a touch-screen
T V monitor and handheld console – is
easy to use and the selection of movies,
T V shows, music and games is extensive.
The foot rest, that becomes part of the
lie-flat bed, allows you to put your feet
up even during take-off and landing, a
feature I enjoyed. There are a number of
storage spaces for things like your shoes
and cell phone.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, next to
the Bidvest lounge, is compact, but
given the number of people it needs to
accommodate it’s a good size. During
my wait, it wasn’t crowded and seating
choices were plentiful. Wi-fi was free
and easy to connect to, and plug points
were readily available. The bathroom
facilities consist of a small number of
cubicles each with a shower, basin and
toilet. The Clubhouse functions as an a
la carte restaurant, with waitrons taking
orders for your food and drink. The
menu offers both light and full meals
as well as kiddies meals. I sampled
the crumbed calamari and spicy beef
chilli soup for starters and seared fillet
with spinach, butternut and fennel
for mains. The fillet was served with
a mushroom sauce, helping combat
the dryness that usually accompanies
airplane food. The meal was really tasty.
I skipped dessert in favour of some shut
eye. There was a fair bit of turbulence
throughout the flight and the seatbelt
sign went on a few times. The cabin
crew was vigilant and checked that
everyone was safely strapped in during
these times. The breakfast service began
about 90 minutes before landing. I
placed my order on a menu card before
retiring. I opted for the salmon frittata,
which was light and full of flavour, and
a cup of coffee.
ARRIVAL: The plane touched down on
time and upper class passengers were
first off. I made my way to the transit
desks and was quickly on my way the
Clubhouse in Terminal 3 with a boarding
pass for my onward flight to Seattle.
VERDICT: The upper class seats
offer a great night’s sleep. Couple
this with great on-board service and
entertainment, and you’ve got a winning
product. C
Kate Kennedy
THE FLIGHT: Once seated, I was
offered a choice of water, orange juice or
champagne and then a sleep suit. After
an on-time take-off, the cabin crew took
drink and meal orders. Drinks were
delivered with a small bowl of crisps
to tide passengers over until dinner.
I decided on the roast red pepper and
MAY2017 | 35
Harnessing technology
A combination of trends in consumer technology, rising traveller expectations, the continued expansion of mobile devices,
and many other market dynamics all have an impact on the corporate travel experience. Ref lecting these changing
conditions, Sabre is introducing the new Traveller Experience Platform, a single mobile platform that allows business
travellers to self-manage in-transit travel arrangements. Richard Addey, SA Country Director of the Sabre Travel
Network, took some time to tell Business Traveller Africa more about Traveller Experience Platform and the company.
Richard Addey
SA Country
Director: Sabre
Travel Network
Q: What is the biggest talking
point in the GDS space right
A: Personalisation and creating
experiences. Travellers’ needs have
evolved; they now expect a highly
tailored service – which means
access to the products and services
they want, when they want
them. Travellers have an entire
ecosystem of options, services,
apps, channels, and data streams
at their disposal – and travel
companies like Sabre provide
the platform that serves up these
Q: What differentiates Sabre from
the other GDS companies in the
A: Our technolog y innovation.
Since we went public in 2014, we
have brought at least 15 new and
unique solutions to market that
respond to the current industry
challenges – changing consumer
behaviours, a competitive market
landscape, emerging technolog y
and how to retail effectively. Our
platform drives transactions on a
massive scale. Furthermore, our
tech manages 99,000 messages
per second at peak times. We’re
also in the API Billionaire’s Club,
along with Twitter, Google and
Q: What are your thoughts
on ‘Big Data’ and the role it is
playing in the travel industry?
A: Data that customers share with
travel companies is evolving in
size and structure – presenting a
huge challenge. Airlines already
house terabytes of information,
but only use about 12% effectively.
Sabre has developed tools that
can enable travel companies to
harness the data, enabling them
to turn it into actionable insights.
They can then offer travellers
contextually relevant products and
services throughout their journeys,
creating new revenue streams.
This will open a whole new
world of possibilities for airlines,
hotels and travel companies, and
36 | MAY2017
will completely transform the
experience for passengers.
Q: Is Sabre launching any new
products in the short-term?
A: We recently launched our
Traveller Experience Platform that
allows travellers to self-manage
in-transit booking, payments,
expense reporting, safety and
security matters. We will soon
launch a new version of Sabre
Red Workspace with new decision
support tools, predictive data
insights and merchandising
capabilities that bring agents
and suppliers together to create
personalised experiences for
Q: How is Sabre using cuttingedge technology to improve the
business travel experience?
A: The Traveller Experience
Platform helps solve some of the
biggest challenges facing business
travel programmes: corporate
travel managers searching for
a flexible platform, travellers
looking for a seamless experience
and corporations striving for a
positive return on investment.
It will maximise efficiency
and streamline expenses for
corporations while improving
traveller satisfaction with
corporate travel programmes.
One of the ‘wow’ features of
the new Sabre Red Workspace
includes the Decision Support Bar,
which provides the consultant
instant access to market data for
fare trends, travel seasonality,
fare ranges, alternate dates,
and alternate airports. This
data provides instant access to
information without having to
invoke additional commands.
Q: What were some of the major
findings of the ‘African Travel
Report’ conducted by Sabre last
A: Our report found that African
air travel spend is expected to rise
24% following the introduction of
the pan-African passport in 2018.
Travellers from four countries
– South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya
and Eg ypt – were surveyed,
with those having flown in the
past 24 months saying they
would spend 24% more with the
introduction of the passport (from
$1,100 to $1,500 annually). When
asked what prevents them from
travelling more, the top reasons
were that travel is too expensive
(32%), it’s difficult to obtain visas
(31%), it’s too difficult to book
travel (30%) and that there are no
flights to the destinations they
wish to go to (28%). Travellers
also expressed a number of gripes
about their current experiences
when travelling, such as the
check-in process taking too long,
check-in being confusing, they
don’t like the food offered on
aircrafts, and even that there is
not enough to do at airports.
Q: It’s arguable that Sabre has
much ground to make up on the
other two major GDS players in
the southern African market. How
do you plan to do that?
A: Sabre is a technolog y company,
not just a GDS. Our presence
in Africa is actually quite
considerable if you understand
the number of companies that are
using Sabre’s technolog y; from
top airlines to the biggest African
corporates and travel agents. We
intend to continue our investment
to settle our position in Africa.
Q: What does the GDS future
look like?
A: The future for the GDS
remains strong. Our platform
reaches more than 425,000 travel
agents and helps travel grow
revenue through access to a huge
number of corporate travellers.
An effective retailing strateg y for
a travel supplier involves making
their full roster of products
and services available through
all channels – both direct and
indirect – so that the traveller has
maximum choice at all times. C
Continued investment
With a key strategy to make its brands and offerings stand out, Carlson Rezidor seems determined to remain relevant
to a changing market. In Africa, Marc Descrozaille, Area Vice-President, Africa & Indian Ocean for Carlson Rezidor,
has identified security and status elements as important focus points. He took some time at WTM Africa to meet with
Business Traveller Africa and discuss the group’s African strategy.
Area VicePresident, Africa
& Indian Ocean:
Carlson Rezidor
Q: Is it still the Rezidor strategy
to open a Radisson Blu in the
main capital city before you
explore other brands?
A: Definitely. It’s our key
brand and one that everyone
understands. Sometimes there
is an opportunity for Park Inn
by Radisson and sometimes it’s
also the right approach, because
we will be looking at secondary
locations, which are typically for
mid-scale brands. In Angola we
are developing a portfolio of Park
Inn by Radissons in five cities,
and this is definitely the right
brand for these locations.
Q: The first Radisson Red will
open in Cape Town later this
year. Why is the time right for
Radisson Red in Africa?
A: Radisson Red requires a
certain market maturity. You need
a niche clientele that understands
what we are trying to achieve in
destroying some of the typical
elements of the hotel experience.
We’ve turned the reception into
an art gallery. So, if you opt
not to check-in online and get
your key on your device, the
receptionist will check you in on
the couch in the gallery.
Q: Is it targeted at the millennial
A: People with the millennial
mindset, yes. We believe in being
there to casually meet with other
people. We focus on the drinks
and bar experience. More about
snacks and tapas. It is informal in
a way, which caters for the needs
of a younger generation, but they
are a growing market.
Q: Can we expect to see any
of your other brands come to
A: I’d like to think that our other
brands will bring value to the
continent. Right now, though, we
need to wait for HNA, the new
main shareholder, to decide on a
way forward.
Q: With your properties mainly
in the five and four-star ranges,
do you agree that there is
opportunity in the lower star
A: For sure, and we have adjusted
a little bit on our strateg y
accordingly. We are focussing
more on Park Inn by Radisson
because we see this gap in the
market. As much as 85% of
our clientele here is African
– Africans travelling within
Africa. Ten years ago travellers
to Africa were mostly Europeans,
Americans and a few South
Africans. Today, people in Kenya’s
neighbouring countries travel
to Nairobi for business. These
travellers are prime candidates for
midscale brands, where frequent
stays in five-star hotels becomes
too expensive.
Q: What is the background
strategy behind Rezidor’s
aggressive African expansion?
A: Compared to Hilton, we are
very late entrants to the African
market. We began signing deals
a little over 10 years ago after
we realised that the continent’s
economies were catching up
to the rest of the world. We
determined when Africa would
start flourishing and planned a
strateg y around this long-term
vision. We are planning for the
long-term future, not the shortterm, so the ‘downturn‘ of some
of the African economies hasn’t
derailed our plans. Africa still
has a lot of catching up to do and
we are going to be ready when
it does. We want to position
ourselves intelligently as we have
moved to focus on key cities,
instead of countries or markets.
In some cities we want to have 10
or 15 hotels. In Cape Town we are
going to have six hotels at the end
of the year, and quite possibly 15
hotels in total.
Q: Are you not concerned
that some of Africa’s biggest
economies are currently
A: We’ve had a lot of questions
about Africa’s ‘downturn’ in the
past 12 months, but we don’t
build hotels for the next two,
three years or just one cycle – we
build hotels for the next 50 years.
We want to position ourselves
cleverly and our strateg y is to
focus on the key cities.
Q: You recently opened a Park
Inn by Radisson in Nairobi and
a Radisson Blu in Cape Town.
What’s the next opening?
A: We are going to open the
Park Inn by Radisson Kigali in
Rwanda. After that we have the
Radisson Blu Hotel N’Djamena
in Chad, and then the Park Inn
by Radisson Sousse in Tunisia.
Later this year we’ve got the
opening of the Pearl of Africa
Hotel Kampala in Uganda that
joined our Quor v us Collection in
Januar y.
Q: Are there any international
hotel trends that are worth
A: What I’ve found interesting is
the emergence of Airbnb, which
is either creating a new market
or taking market share from the
traditional market, but I think
there is space for ever ybody.
Marketing and PR of hotels
has changed. It ’s no longer a
hard sell. You have to appeal to
customers on a more personal
level. Traditional marketing isn’t
doing the trick. In a current
campaign of ours, we are using
PR and marketing in a more
subtle way to connect with
clients. People plan their next
trip well in advance of departure
dates and we need to make sure
that, somewhere along the line,
we make it into their plans. C
MAY2017 | 37
Chief Development
Hotels Group has
appointed Rajit
Sukumaran as Chief
Development Officer
in the A MEA region.
Sukumaran will
lead the group’s growth strateg y. He
brings more than 12 years’ experience
in development, acquisitions and
feasibilit y from his previous role as
Senior Vice-President, Acquisitions
and Development, Asia Pacific at
Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Prior to
joining Starwood, Sukumaran worked
in the Corporate Finance division
of PWC Singapore where he was
involved with several cross-border
corporate transactions including
mergers, acquisitions and initial public
offerings. Sukumaran graduated from
Singapore’s Nanyang Technological
Universit y with a Bachelor of
Managing Director
MSC Cruises SA has
appointed Ross Volk
as Managing Director
of MSC South Africa.
He has, for the past
14 months, worked as
the CFO of the South
African Operation.
Prior to joining MSC, Volk was a
Senior Manager at KPMG. He studied
a BComm Accounting and Finance at
the Universit y of Witwatersrand and
qualified as a Chartered Accountant in
2006. Volk will be assisted by outgoing
CEO Daphne Osborne and Head of
Marketing Allan Foggitt who will both
remain in a consulting capacit y for an
interim period.
General Manager
Tsogo Sun has
appointed Mark Ross
as General Manager
of the Riverside
Sun. He moves over
from the Southern
Sun Bloemfontein.
Ross began his
career in hospitalit y with Holiday
Inn before moving to Scotland to
work in reception at Jur ys Glasgow
Hotel. He returned to South Africa
and took a position as Night Manager
at Cullinan Boksburg, then moved
to the Senator Hotel Caesars as
Front Office Super visor before being
promoted to Assistant Front Office
Manager at Emperors Caesars. His first
38 | MAY2017
appointment at Tsogo Sun was as the
Hotel Manager at The Caledon Casino
Hotel and Spa.
General Manager
Protea Hotels
by Marriott has
appointed Leean
Benney as the new
General Manager of
the Protea Hotel by
Marriott Roodepoort.
Benney has been
with the group for the past 15 years.
She spent three years in the group’s
in-house training programme and
earned a formal qualification at the
Universit y of Johannesburg. Benney
has held a number of management
roles at establishments around South
Africa, spending seven years as the
General Manager of the Protea Hotel
by Marriott Clarens.
General Manager
Southern Sun OR
Tambo has appointed
Andrew Ngwenya
as its new General
Manager. Ng wenya
earned a Management
Certificate in
Hospitality from
Technikon Witwatersrand in 1999 and
Diploma in Project Management from
Varsity College in 2004. He started his
career in 1999 at the Indaba Hotel as
Senior Assistant Banqueting Manager
and was promoted to Banqueting/
Conventions Manager. He moved to
Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC Durban in
2002 as the Functions Manager and
then to The Royal Hotel in as the
Banqueting Manager. In 2006, Ng wenya
joined Tsogo Sun as the Senior
Assistant Food and Beverage Manager
at Suncoast Hotel & Towers. He has
moved around the group’s properties,
working at the Garden Court Umtata,
the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Elangeni
Hotel and Emnotweni Sun.
General Manager
African Pride Mount
Grace Countr y Hotel
& Spa has appointed
Ernst-Jan Hiltemann
as its new General
Manager. Having
studied at the ML
Sultan Hotel School
and at Switzerland’s prestigious Hotel
Institute Montreux, Hiltemann joins
Protea Hotels by Marriott from his role
as Head of Operations for the Durban
region of aha Hotels and Lodges.
General Manager
Fastjet has appointed
Sean Bradley as its
General Manager of
Sales. He is based
in Johannesburg
and responsible
for developing,
implementing and
managing an effective sales strateg y
for the airline across the African
continent. Bradley will focus on
managing sales teams in the airline’s
key markets of Tanzania, Zimbabwe,
and South Africa, as well as growing
the airline’s relationships with trade
and corporate partners. He joins fastjet
from his role of Global Manager of
Trade & Product Support and Global
Sales Development at South African
General Manager
Tsogo Sun has
appointed Pranesh
Sukhdeo as the new
General Manager
at Garden Court
Umtata. He takes the
reins from Nwgenya.
Sukhdeo spent
nearly 10 years at the Breakers Resort,
climbing the ladder from food and
beverage cashier to Acting General
Manager. His next position was as
Deput y General Manager at Cabana
Beach and four years later in the same
position at Umhlanga Sands.
General Manager
Antony Larsen has
been appointed as the
new General Manager
for Crowne Plaza
Rosebank. He has
moved across from
Southern Sun OR
Tambo where he was
the Deput y General Manager. Larsen
began his career at the Malibu Hotel
in December 1987. In 1989, Larsen
was accepted into Southern Sun’s
In-Ser vice Traineeship which posted
him at the Maharani Hotel for five
years. Larsen has worked his way from
Assistant Food and Beverage Manager
at a number of hotels around South
Africa to Assistant General Manager at
the Riverside Sun and the Holiday Inn
Elangeni Hotel. He has since managed
the Southern Sun Cullinan Hotel,
Southern Sun Pretoria and Southern
Sun OR Tambo.
Something for everyone
Mark Wernich
Former Rezidor and Faircity hotel executive Mark Wer nich recently joined Preferred Hotels & Resorts in
DIRECTOR: BUSINESS Cape Town, which is where editor Dylan Rogers caught up with him at WTM Africa, as the pair discussed the
Preferred model and where the group sees opportunity in Africa.
“The difference with us is that
Currently, Preferred Hotels &
f you’re not ‘in the industry’
and don’t have a fairly
extensive knowledge of the
international hospitality market,
you probably won’t be aware that
Preferred Hotels & Resorts – based
out of the United States and
representing some of the world’s
standout hotels - has been around
nearly 50 years.
That’s arguably because it’s not
a ‘standard’ hotel group, owning
bricks and mortar and/or offering
its services as a hotel management
“We’re not a management
company and we don’t operate
hotels,” says Wernich. “We look to
synergise with our hotel partners
and push business to them.”
Preferred Hotels & Resorts is
what the hospitality industry likes
to call a ‘soft brand collection’ and
a global portfolio of independent
hotels. Member hotels get access to
Preferred’s expertise and support
services, such as distribution,
reservation management, loyalty,
and sales and marketing, while still
maintaining their individuality.
“The owners want that status
and that independence, and don’t
want to be dictated to,” says
Wernich. “In that way they keep
their identity, which is important.”
All of the hotels, resorts,
and serviced residences within
the Preferred Hotels & Resorts
portfolio are independent entities,
and the organization's quality
standards are measured by yearly
anonymous on-site inspections and
real-time quality assessment scores
pulled from social media sites.
40 | MAY2017
Resorts has 28 African properties
in its portfolio, with another 25 in
the pipeline. The existing African
properties can be found in some
of the continent’s most prominent
business travel destinations, such
as Luanda, Accra, Nairobi, Dar es
Salaam, and Lagos.
No surprise, then, to hear that
Preferred is betting big on Africa,
with Wernich’s appointment just
one element in a re-structure
that is set to beef up the group’s
presence on the continent.
“Everyone knows that Africa is
growing at a rate of knots,” says
Wernich. “It takes a bit longer
to get things done, but we all
know that the (hotel) pipelines
are massive. We know that by
2020/2030, Africa is going to be
huge if you look at the growth of
some industries, such as mobile, oil
and gas etc.”
That may be the case, but
there’s no doubt that some of the
continent’s biggest economies –
Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya – are
hardly shooting the lights out
currently, in terms of economic
“The key is that we’re in African
markets, we know it’s going to
happen, and we’re as patient as
the owners,” says Wernich. “That
is Africa – changes in government,
laws etc, so things change all the
time. You must be tough enough to
exist in that environment.”
Preferred may be tough, but what
about the African hotel owner who
can’t get the rate he wants and is
staring poor occupancy in the face?
we push business to the hotels,”
says Wernich. “There is a fixed
fee component that puts the hotel
on our platform. However, if we
don’t push business, we don’t make
So, where next in Africa?
“We’ve got some things going
on in Kenya and Angola, and we’re
looking at Zanzibar, Mauritius, and
then here in South Africa, with
Johannesburg and Durban,” says
Wernich. “They are key to us and
we believe there is opportunity,
mainly due to the economy being
strained and the different model we
In 2015 Preferred Hotels &
Resorts rebranded, with five
distinct hotel collections: Legend,
LVX, Lifestyle, Connect, and
Preferred Residences. The group
has traditionally been strong in
the luxury sector, but the portfolio
of brands allows it to present an
offering across the star range.
That could well prove useful
in Africa, where the mid-market
sector remains largely underserviced.
“There is definitely opportunity
there,” says Wernich. “That’s
why we have the five brands and
specifically the Connect brand in
the mid-market space. The luxury
space is probably a bit over-traded,
and with the economies as they
are currently, ADR’s are not being
achieved. However, there is enough
space from the lower end up to the
luxury market.”
And plenty of space to grow, no
doubt. C
★ ★ ★ ★
In the heart of Sandton (Rivonia),
there is a unique destination.
Set among the trees on the banks
of the Sand River,
you will find peace and tranquillity
unmatched in Jo’burg’s north.
Set on an acre, home to an abundance
of birdlife, conveniently located to the
Rivonia CBD and the major arterials,
Sand River Guest House offers guests
something distinct.
Be it the 4 Star luxury rooms, or the
meeting facilities through to our unique
conference and meeting destination,
we call the Tree House
It’s hard to believe
that you’re in
T: +27 (0) 11 234 1666
M: +27 (0) 71 324 7857
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