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Business Traveller Africa - May 2018

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Evolving quickly
Europe’s MICE capital
Emerging fast
An unrivalled hospitality hub
ISSUE 127: MAY 2018
BT 3399/E
Sun City takes conferencing and conventions to the next
level, with the focus on providing consolidated conference
experiences and ample team building activities, ensuring
‘conferencing with a difference’, all in one location.
Home to prudently crafted facilities, technology and services
with access to a range of well-equipped meeting rooms,
conference venues, auditoriums and various multi-purpose
venues, complemented by morale-building activities
incorporated into bespoke conference packages.
At Sun City, turning any business gathering into an
adventure-filled experience is only a matter of choice.
To book an event with endless possibilities,
visit or call 014 557 1000.
★ ★ ★ ★
in the heart
of sandton
Tree House
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
Be it the 4 Star luxury rooms, or the meeting
facilities through to our self catering
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
It’s Sand
major arterials,
House offers guests
Be it the 4 Star luxury rooms, or the meeting facilities
through to our unique conference and meeting
Tree House.
T: +27we
(0) call
11 234
M: +27 (0) 71 324 7857
34 35
12 Birchwood
It’s been two decades since the Birchwood Hotel
and OR Tambo Conference Centre opened its
doors. The sprawling complex, situated fewer
than 10 kilometres from O. R. Tambo International
Airport in Johannesburg, has grown in size and
reputation over the years, with no signs of resting
on its laurels. The facilities can accommodate
the lone business traveller, a 3,000-delegate
conference and everything in between.
The African MICE industry is poised for
growth, although the continent’s event
planners and suppliers are going to have
to be on their toes, as clients push the
envelope and demand something new
and fresh.
22 Paris
The capital of France has the good
fortune of a favourable European
location and great infrastructure, both of
which attract much business, and thus
business travel, to Paris. We give you an
insider’s look at the city.
28 Kigali
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
10 W Hospitality Column
Managing Director Trevor Ward gives
us his take on the West African hotel
11 ASATA Column
The latest from Chief Executive Officer
Otto de Vries
Hotel Check
• Westin Turtle Bay
Flight Check
36 Q & A Interviews
• Neelma Maru – Moévenpick
• Fabio Lazzerini – Alitalia
38 People on the Move
The movers and shakers –
what they’re up to now
40 Bite with the Editor
Lance Smith – Avis
It’s emerging as one of the hotspots
on the African business events map,
thanks to a concerted effort to bolster
its infrastructure, attract investment, and
build an offering that is very attractive.
MAY2018 | 3
t seems an African passport is not the one to
have in your back pocket, if you want to move
freely around the world, or have the ability to
grasp international business opportunities at short
Not a big surprise, but some of the numbers will
probably alarm you.
According to Henley & Partners’ annual Visa
Restrictions Index, over the last decade, African
countries have accounted for 16 of the 20 biggest
fallers, and the continent as a whole suffered the
most dramatic decline in the 2017 edition of the
With its nationals able to access 98 countries
without a visa, South Africa, which dropped one
position from 2016, was ranked 55th on the 2017
index. In contrast, citizens of Sweden, Denmark,
Finland, Italy, Spain, the US and the UK have
unrestricted access to 173 or more countries – and
Germans, whose country retained its top spot on the
index for the second year running, have access to 176
The majority of the countries to which South
Africans can travel unhindered are to be found in
Africa and South America.
South Africa ranked third in the African region,
with its Indian Ocean island neighbours, the
Seychelles and Mauritius, taking first and second
place respectively. The Seychelles, whose nationals
enjoy visa-free access to 137 countries worldwide,
achieved 29th position on the index, while citizens
of Mauritius, which ranked 33rd overall, have
unrestricted access to 131 international countries.
With visa-free access to 69 countries, Kenya takes
fourth spot in Africa and was also the continent’s
biggest climber, moving up two positions since last
year to rank 68th. On the other hand, losing four
places, Ghana, which now ranks 77th, recorded the
most negative movement on the index as a whole.
And, over the last decade, Sierra Leone has suffered
the index’s largest individual decline, losing 29 spots
There is still huge disparity in the levels of
travel freedom between countries, despite the
world becoming seemingly more mobile and
interdependent. Generally, visa requirements are a
reflection of a country’s relationship with others,
and take into account diplomatic relations between
countries, reciprocal visa arrangements, security
risks, and the dangers of visa and immigration
regulation violations.
If that is indeed the case, then Africa’s countries
have much work to do before its citizens have the
type of freedom of movement that fosters efficient
and sustainable economic growth, with a strong link
to the rest of the world.
Dylan Rogers
4 | MAY2018
Richard Lendrum
Dylan Rogers
Gillian McLaren, Kate Kennedy
Kate Kennedy
Nadette Voogd
Mabel Ramafoko
Postal Address:
PO Box 1746, Saxonwold, 2132
Physical Address:
247 Jan Smuts Avenue, Randburg
Telephone: +27 11 327 6107
3rd Floor, EuniBrown House195,
Ikorodu Road, Palmgrove,Lagos, Nigeria
Tel: +234 1 740 3236
Mobile: +234 803 963 0155
Tope Ogbeni-Awe
Mohammed Abdullahi
Business Traveller Africa is published under licence from Perry
Publications Limited.
Warwick House, 25 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0PP.
Tel: +44 20 7821 2740
Follow us on:
Marriott Unveils Unified Loyalty Programmes
Marriott International will introduce one set of unified benefits across Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and
Starwood Preferred Guest for its members in August, when members will be able to combine their separate accounts into a
single account spanning the entire loyalty portfolio. They will have access to book stays and earn or redeem points among
29 participating global brands. The different reward programme names will continue to live on under the new set of unified
benefits until a new programme name is introduced in 2019. Additionally, the Moments experiential platform is expanding,
with more than 110,000 experiences in 1,000 destinations.
Airlink Connects PE and
Radisson PVT Project in
Cape Town
Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Foreshore has installed
30 PowerCollectors, technolog y which combines
generation of thermal energ y with the photovoltaic
generation of electricity and produces one of the highest
energ y yields ever measured. When compared with
traditional solar panels, the PowerCollector produces both
electricity and hot water output up to 70°C and delivers
three times more energ y on the same surface area.
The installation, located on the hotel’s rooftop, is fully
operational, producing an average of 1050kWh of energ y
per week for the hotel. The installation also saves 79,000
litres of water per year by reducing energ y used from the
grid. This is because every kWh of electricity bought from
the South African power utility company Eskom uses 1,45
litres of water to produce.
6 | MAY2018
Airlink has launched direct f lights between Johannesburg
and Port Elizabeth. The new ser vice will be ser ved by one
of Airlink’s recently-acquired 74-seat Embraer E170 aircraft.
The f lights will depart O.R. Tambo International Airport
at 18h10 and arrive at Port Elizabeth International Airport
at 19h40, Mondays to Fridays, and on Sundays. The return
f light will depart Port Elizabeth at 06h45 and arrive in
Johannesburg at 08h15. On Saturdays, the f light departs
Port Elizabeth at 08h00 and arrives in Johannesburg at
09h30. The E170 E-jets are config ured with six business and
68 economy class seats.
Comair Renews
Agreement With
Travelport and Comair have renewed a long-term full
content agreement, whereby Travelport will continue
to provide Comair inventory to Travelport-connected
agencies. Comair will also continue to use Travelport’s
Rich Content and Branding merchandising tool, which
gives agencies and travel bookers a graphically rich
experience when searching for and booking branded fares.
For more news, visit
Iberia Recieves
Iberia has taken delivery of the aircraft ‘Johannesburgo’.
This plane completes the order of 12 A330-200 units
and will operate the airline’s flights to destinations in
Latin America, the United States, South Africa and Asia.
The new aircraft is named after the South African city
of Johannesburg, which Iberia has served since August
2016 with three weekly flights. Since 2013, Iberia has
taken delivery of 20 new long-haul aircraft and fitted
its 17 A340-600s with new cabins. In the course of this
year it will receive its first A350-900s and A320NEOs.
The Johannesburgo has 19 seats in business and 269 in
economy class. Business class seats unfold into twometre-long beds and have direct aisle access. Wi-fi is
available on board.
Signature Brand For Fortis
Fortis Hotels has launched its own signature South
African hotel brand, after operating several Protea hotels
around the country for many years. The six Fortis-branded
hotels are Fortis Hotel Capital (Pretoria), Fortis Hotel
Manor (Pretoria), Fortis Hotel Malaga (Waterval Boven),
Fortis Hotel Witbank (Witbank), Fortis Hotel Highveld
(Emalahleni) and Fortis Hotel Evander (Secunda). The
group will continue to franchise with the Protea brand and
Marriott group at its hotel, Protea Hotel Hunters Rest.
Accor Acquires Stake In
Mantis Group
BON Launches in Abuja
and Adds Nelspruit
AccorHotels has partnered with the South Africabased Mantis Group, a collection of privately-owned,
managed and branded five-star properties and lodges.
The agreement sees Accor acquire a 50% stake in the
Mantis Group. The Mantis network features 28 managed
properties, plus a global network of branded hotels and
BON Hotels has launched its revamped BON Hotel
Abuja. The four-star BON Hotel Abuja has completed
phases 1 and 2 of a total revamp. The initial phases saw
a refurbishment and redecoration of the existing rooms
and bathrooms, an upgrade and revamp of all the public
areas, the addition of a swimming pool, a g ym and a
coffee lounge. The final phase, which is still in progress,
is the addition of 20 new rooms on the recently-acquired
property adjacent to the existing hotel. The group has
also added the Destiny Lodge Nelspruit by BON Hotels
to its portfolio. The property is a 35-room four-star hotel
and will undergo refurbishment, including adding 35 new
rooms. In addition to the immediate upgrades, plans for
an international convention centre have been approved.
Construction will commence mid-2018 and will have a
capacity of 1,500 delegates.
For more news, visit
MAY2018 | 7
SA’s First Hilton Garden Inn
Hilton has signed a management agreement with UA Hotel Company to open a 207-room Hilton Garden Inn in Umhlanga,
Durban on South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal coast. Hilton Garden Inn is the group’s select services brand and the hotel is
expected to open in 2020. The hotel will be part of Umhlanga Arch and will offer its own business and fitness centres, an
outdoor pool and various food and beverage outlets, including a garden and lounge bar.
Travelport Updates
Travelport and have signed a longterm renewal agreement for Travelport to continue
providing pricing, booking and ticketing technolog y
and content to Priceline. The renewal comes
approximately 20 years after the two companies
signed their first agreement for Priceline to process
reservations through Travelport’s GDS. In addition,
Travelport and Air France-KLM have signed an
agreement for the distribution of the airline’s content
through Travelport’s platform.
StayEasy Maputo Opens
Tsogo Sun has opened its StayEasy Maputo property, located along
the coast in Mozambique’s capital and only nine kilometres from
Maputo International Airport. The hotel has 125 rooms and includes
amenities such as an outdoor deck next to a swimming pool, a
meeting room for up to 12 delegates, and a self-service workstation.
A state-of-the-art g ym is available at the adjacent Baía Shopping
Mall. Select DStv channels are available and each guest will receive
250MB complimentary wi-fi. Rewards members receive 2GB free wifi per room per day.
8 | MAY2018
For more news, visit
BA Expands African
‘Secure’ Solution For FCM
British Airways has expanded its African network
by starting a twice-weekly service to the Seychelles.
Flights will depart Heathrow’s Terminal 5 on
Wednesdays and Saturdays, returning on Thursdays
and Sundays. The service is year-round and is operated
by the airline’s newest aircraft, the Boeing 787-9
Dreamliner. There is a choice of four cabins: World
Traveller (economy), World Traveller Plus (premium
economy), Club World (business class) and an eightsuite First cabin. This is the second time in the past six
months the airline has grown its presence in the Indian
Ocean Islands. In October it expanded its three Boeing
777 services from Gatwick to Mauritius to five a week.
It has also added more seats to Lagos, Nigeria and will
add a second A380 to its double-daily Johannesburg
service from October.
FCM’s new next-generation technology suite, FCM Connect, gives
travellers, bookers and managers critical safety and duty of care
support via 'Secure', a comprehensive risk management solution
customised to each client’s requirements. Its features include
itinerary-based traveller tracking; colour-coded risk mapping;
flight tracking for aircraft incidents or cancellation; real-time
security alerts; and high-level country and city risk ratings.
In addition, Secure features a ‘report my location’ opt-in and
automatically generates a report detailing affected travellers. It
allows managers to forward plan and set up monthly reports.
RwandAir Partners with Question
RwandAir will serve Question Coffee, a Rwandan specialty coffee, on all
RwandAir flights, with over two million cups to be offered in the next two
years. This move allows passengers to support small hold women farmers
and their families in Rwanda. Question Coffee is a social enterprise funded
by Bloomberg Philanthropies and powered by 27,000 women who are now
managing their own businesses and supporting their families in Rwanda.
BON Hotel Abuja, Maitama
BON Hotel Stratton Asokoro, Abuja
BON Hotel Grand Pela, Abuja
BON Hotel Grand Towers, Abuja
BON Hotel Delta, Warri
Protea Hotel Victoria Island
operated by BON Hotels, Lagos
Protea Hotel Ikeja
operated by BON Hotels, Lagos
0 8 6 1 B O N 2 2 2 • r e s e r v a t i o n s @ b o n h o t e l s . c o m • w w w. b o n h o t e l s . c o m
An Eye on
West Africa
Trevor Ward
MD: W Hospitality
10 | MAY2018
here’s not been a great
deal of activity in terms of
new hotel construction and
openings in West Africa recently.
I hear that work has started on
the new Mövenpick in Abidjan
and, by the time you read this,
the Marriott Accra may finally
open – that’s been a very long
time coming! Marriott also have
new hotels under construction in
Cotonou and here in Lagos, and
new Best Westerns are opening
soon in Abuja and in Enugu,
which is in the east of Nigeria,
one of five cities in the country
that are served by Ethiopian
Two hotels have recently opened
in Nigeria, both managed by
Mantis Group – the L’Eola in
Lagos (formerly the Leadway
Hotel, which has undergone
a complete overhaul) and the
newly-built Envoy Hotel in Abuja’s
diplomatic quarter. Mantis is a
South Africa-based chain, with a
portfolio of 28 managed hotels in
Africa (most in South Africa), with
a total of around 500 rooms – yes,
an average of only 18 rooms per
property. The hotels in Nigeria
are bigger, with 50 rooms in
Lagos and 56 in Abuja, plus the
chain has a pipeline of a further
three hotels in Lagos. If all are
completed, that will give Mantis
just over 300 rooms between
Lagos and Abuja.
Mantis also provide
management and marketing to
numerous hotels outside Africa, in
London, St Helena and Antarctica;
it claims, I am sure rightfully so,
to be the only hotel chain on all
seven continents.
As well as news of a South
African chain making headway
in Nigeria (and its combined total
of 309 rooms would make it the
largest South African operator
in the country), AccorHotels,
the Paris-based global giant,
announced in early April that it
had acquired 50% of Mantis, in a
strategic partnership.
Now, why would AccorHotels, a
company with over 4,250 hotels,
and almost 620,000 rooms, link
up with Mantis, with a relatively
small footprint and small hotels?
Seems an uneven partnership?
Well yes, if you just look at the
numbers, but not if looking at
each party’s business case.
Sebastien Bazin, the CEO of
AccorHotels said, at the time of
the announcement, that with
the deal with Mantis “we are
reinforcing the group’s footprint
in Africa and we have access
to a brand with strong roots
and heritage, recognised for its
commitment to preserve the
environment and its prestigious
credentials in the hospitality
So for AccorHotels, which has
brands such as Pullman, Novotel,
ibis and Sofitel operating in West
Africa, Mantis not only expands
the number of hotels within its
system (its footprint), it brings a
brand which is markedly different
into its portfolio, and which it
can use to take on new properties
(not just in Africa – Accor is in
95 countries globally) which its
existing brands don’t suit.
Founder and Chairman of the
Mantis Group, Adrian Gardiner,
said that the deal “presents
an attractive proposition for
the Mantis Group to utilise
AccorHotels’ robust distribution
channels and worldwide reach to
further develop the hospitality
concepts and sustainability
projects we have worked so
tirelessly to grow.”
And that mention of distribution
channels is, I believe, the
core benefit of this deal for
both parties, but particularly
for Mantis. Ten years ago the
main hotel chains, including
AccorHotels, had 30,000 rooms
in their development pipelines,
whilst today that figure is over
76,000. The chains are, after a
slow start, becoming increasingly
dominant in African cities, and
it is becoming more difficult for
smaller chains and independents
to compete. And if all of those
new rooms in the pipeline are
realised, the supply of existing
chain hotels in Africa will almost
So at a stroke, Mantis enters
the realm of the global players.
AccorHotels has a far, far larger
online presence than Mantis could
ever dream of having, able to
compete with the major players.
And then there are AccorHotels’
35 million loyalty card holders,
who will now get points and other
benefits from staying at Mantis
Hotels, and who will receive
marketing messages regarding the
new addition to the brand family.
And the 1,000 corporate accounts,
200 airline partnerships, sales
offices around the world – all now
for the benefit of Mantis’ hotels.
We saw something similar,
although on a bigger scale, when
Marriott acquired Protea in 2014.
Marriott had been struggling to
get a foothold in sub-Saharan
Africa, and that deal brought it
116 hotels with over 10,000 rooms,
and brought to Protea the same
global-scale distribution benefits
that Mantis will enjoy. Marriott
further increased its footprint,
not just in Africa but globally,
with its acquisition of Starwood
in 2016, cementing its position as
the largest player in Africa and, as
shown in our latest Hotel Chain
Development Pipelines in Africa
Report, having by far the largest
pipeline, topping the table with
a pipeline of almost 18,000 new
rooms, ahead of AccorHotels,
which is in third place after Hilton
with 10,000 new rooms.
Will we see more mergers in the
African hotel scene in the future?
Watch this space. C
office space
id you know that over 50% of African
citizens still need visas to visit their African
Only 24% of African travellers can get visas on
arrival when travelling on the continent, and only
22% don’t require visas at all, according to the
African Development Bank’s Visa Openness Index.
As the growth in the economies of several
African countries begin to outpace those globally,
now is the time for companies to look beyond their
borders and explore opportunities that strengthen
the African continent.
Numerous barriers have stood in the way of
corporates tapping the vast opportunities Africa
has to offer. Not only do goods originating within
Africa attract crippling import tariffs and permits,
but visa policies have been prohibitive and
protectionism has made air travel on the continent
expensive and challenging.
All this is about to change as 44 African
countries recently signed the African Continental
Free Trade Area, with a further 50 countries
signing a declaration underscoring their
commitment to the free trade area.
The agreement has the potential to boost intraAfrican trade by 52.3% by eliminating import
duties, and to even double this trade if non-tariff
barriers are also reduced.
What’s more is that 27 countries signed the
African Union Protocol on Free Movement of People,
which would mean visa-free travel, the right of
residency and the right of business or professional
establishment for citizens between signatory
countries within the next six months.
It’s exciting news for a continent whose
population is expected to double by 2050. Fostering
the entrepreneurial talent in such a significant
number of young people will undoubtedly support
Africa’s vision to create healthy economies and
create jobs.
Business travel is a catalyst for that economic
growth and is integral to the investments, logistics
and supply chains that would support this regional
trade flow. With improved air access and more
liberal visa policies, we can expect higher levels
of investment, a promotion of business and fresh
skills across the continent.
So, get ready to explore the possibility of an
office space in Lagos or Nairobi, and be the first
in line to contribute to the growth of an integrated
Africa. C
Otto de Vries
MAY2018 | 11
20 years of hospitality
April marked Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre’s
20-year anniversary of being in hospitality and truthfully, it could
not be more perfectly timed. The property and its facilities have never
presented better aesthetics, service levels or overall offering. It feels as
though the last 20 years have been building towards this very special
time for the hospitality giant.
rom humble beginnings
and relatively small-scale
structures, Birchwood now
has a variety of features and
facilities that is simply unrivalled
– and comprehensively versatile.
Options at the hotel’s more than
60 venues are available for the
smallest group of two delegates,
all the way up to large-scale
conferences or events of 3,000
people, and almost any capacity
in between. Adding to this, and
within the hospitality hub, are
665 accommodation rooms which
have been sub-divided in to three
12 | MAY2018
unique and distinctive brands –
all appealing to different target
In 2015, Birchwood upgraded and
revamped 235 of its guest rooms
to create a tailor-made product
for the modern, discerning
business traveller – Silverbirch @
“International guests, and the
modern corporate group, expect
more from their hotels. We’ve
listened and designed a ‘hotel
within a hotel’ concept with
unwavering quality and secluded
within the manicured gardens
and far from bustling events
at the Birchwood, ensuring a
peaceful night’s rest,” says Kevin
Clarence – owner and founder of
Silverbirch was incredibly
well-received and garnered a
wealth of positive feedback,
and impressively a Certificate
of Excellence from TripAdvisor
within its first three years of
Understanding that the
market is incredibly diverse, 96
accommodation rooms near the
main reception were completely
overhauled to create ValuStay
@ Birchwood in 2017. This new
offering has the budget-conscious
traveller or group in mind. It
is built to exceed expectations,
not budget. The only discernible
difference between ValuStay
rooms and other Birchwood
accommodation is the size of the
Despite being the newest
accommodation offering within
Birchwood, ValuStay’s incredible
ratio of rate to value has attracted
a host of groups and looks to be
a fantastic new addition to the
Birchwood stable. The remaining
accommodation rooms form part
of the conference or event offering
based closer to the many venues
on offer, ensuring an easy move
from venue to room.
“Creating a memorable stay for
guests on a multi-day conference
was always a priority of ours,
which is evident in our brand new
boma area,” says Clarence.
This new outdoor dining area
comprises scenic decking areas,
a flowing fountain and a semioutdoor boma which is unmatched
in Johannesburg, or even greater
“You will be completely
absorbed by the beauty, menu
and service at The New Boma and
forget that you are only seven
kilometres from O.R. Tambo
International Airport,” says
Clarence. “It was always about
creating not just a comfortable
stay, but a memorable experience.”
This spectacular new dining
area adds to the already popular
upmarket steakhouse, The Grill
at OneTwenty as well as the more
casual and quick BC Café – home
to some of the finest coffee this
side of Gauteng.
That awkward time-period
between the end of your
conference day and dinner is
always taken care of. Birchwood’s
Hotspot Bar is ideal for
unwinding, catching up on social
media and enjoying an ice-cold
drink while doing so! This is not
to mention Hotspot’s semi-private
booth areas complete with their
very own LCD screen. If heading
to the bar is not your thing,
why not indulge in a relaxing
spa treatment at the renowned
Mang wanani Boutique Spa nestled
in Birchwood’s garden area or
even grab a quick work-out in
the fitness room, followed by a
revitalizing swim in Birchwood’s
“We’ve built our product up
with the intention of giving
guests and conference delegates
something different on each day
of their stay with us. We want to
remove the paradigm of repetitive
dining every night and relatively
limited extras on offer for leisure,”
says Clarence.
A one-stop-shop concept is what
Birchwood has become over the
last 20 years and it continues to
evolve as the years go by.
What is even more impressive is
that the improvements being built
are not only due to demand, but
based on feedback from valued
It is these innovations that
led to Birchwood becoming the
proud recipient of a provincial and
national Lilizela Tourism Award
in 2017, as well as the Readers’
Choice for Best Conference Venue
and Best Function Venue in the
annual Best of Ekurhuleni Awards
in 2017, by Caxton Media.
Clarence and his team are
showing no signs of stopping,
despite becoming the powerhouse
in hospitality that they currently
are. When you’re next in Joburg,
why not catch the complimentary
shuttle from ORTIA after enjoying
a free drink at the Airport Waiting
Lounge and be greeted by awardwinning hospitality. C
MAY2018 | 13
Moving forward
The African MICE space is evolving nicely, with organisers and suppliers under
healthy pressure to take the industry forward and push the boundaries of what’s
possible in this space, together with generally positive sentiment as it relates to the
current and future spend in the sector.
14 | MAY2018
eed Exhibitions – one of
the world's leading event
organisers with a portfolio
of approximately 500 events in
41 countries and a staff of 3,000
exhibition specialists – produces
an annual report towards the end
of each year, titled the “IBTM
Trends Watch Report”, in which it
looks at the topical issues in the
global MICE space.
The report looks at some of the
issues impacting the performance
of this industry, along with
drilling down into the various
geographical regions and throwing
forward to the following year.
Whilst its observations on
the African MICE industry are
always interesting and, mostly,
informative, there are also,
usually, some consistent themes
and trends that could be applied
to any of the world’s regions.
“Instability has become the
new normal, and businesses
are carrying on regardless, and
that means investment in staff,
communication, knowledge,
intelligence and relationships,”
said the 2017 report towards the
end of last year.
It goes on to say that: “This is
an industry that is now beginning
to grasp its true value and not
only demonstrate it, but sell it
back to customers. No event takes
place without the investment
of a business or a brand; be it
delegate tickets, sponsorship, or
the creation of an event itself.
Again, we see the meetings and
events industry getting closer
to business, earning its trust
and faith, and delivering. The
relationship between business and
the meetings and events industry
seems to be growing stronger
every day.”
This in itself is an interesting
observation, as the incredible pace
of technological advancement
often results in the age-old
question of whether or not the
events industry has a sustainable
future being trotted out.
The IBTM report is unequivocal.
“Despite increased technolog y,
new market entries, and new ways
of communication, businesses
find growth in the same way,” it
said. “They look after their staff,
they look after their customers,
MAY2018 | 15
they develop new products, and
communicate with new markets.
In is this environment, the
meetings and conference industry
looks to thrive.”
T he Capital On T he Park
aha Chobe Marina Lodge
Here’s a look at some of the new MICE-specific products recently developed by
some of Business Traveller Africa’s clients.
Fairmont Zimbali - new conference centre expansion, which increases capacity
to 600 delegates and offers flexibility for smaller groups
Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre – brand-new Boma area
which includes a stunning fountain surrounded by decking and a roaring fire in
a circular kraal; relaunched Hotspot area for post-conference drinks and sport
watching; upgraded connectivity
Sun International’s Sun City – new team-building experiences, such as the
Amazing Race and the Survivor/Camel Quad Adventure Trophy; new bicycle pump
track; the Chimp & Zee Rope Adventure Park; and the Cascades Forest of Lights,
where the lush tropical gardens and waterfalls are transformed into a magnificent
landscape of colour
Aha Hotels & Lodges – David Livingstone Safari Lodge in Zambia has added
a brand-new boma area and range of unique activities in and around the area
to cater and provide for unique experiences. The river cruising allows for teambuilding activities to take place on a boat while watching animals such as
elephant, crocodile, an array of birds and hippos on the Zambezi River
The Capital Hotels & Apartments – have added ‘brain-boosting’ snacks to
its conference tables, to ensure its guests stay focused during their meetings,
instead of the usual sweets that offer a quick sugar rush and then dip you down
16 | MAY2018
So, that’s the future according to
Reed Exhibitions and its IBTM
Trends Watch Report, but what’s
happening now, specific to Africa’s
MICE players?
More directly, how are some of
Africa’s biggest economic players
performing, off the back of a
couple of difficult and disruptive
years, both economically and
“The average spend is starting
to increase after a flat period over
the last two years,” says South
Africa-based Zukiso Makalima,
aha Hotels & Lodges Regional
Sales Manager. “MICE as a whole
is up and client meetings, training
and brand promotions are at the
That being said, Makalima does
point to the water crisis in South
Africa’s Western Cape as one area
where spend has been affected,
and this has clearly been felt
across the board.
“The most topical issue has
been the drought in the Western
Cape and the looming possibility
of ‘Day Zero’ in Cape Town,
but the city has proved to be
remarkably resilient,” says Jennifer
Beattie, Sun International’s
Group Manager: Africa Sales &
Marketing. “However, spend is
definitely up for 2018, although
this could be off the back of
Europe no longer being seen as a
safe destination.”
“The spend is currently in flux
from quarter to quarter, making
it difficult to define a definite
up or down,” says Liezl Meier,
Director of Sales & Marketing at
Fairmont Zimbali Resort in South
Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province.
“Clients are most definitely more
budget-conscious, and even those
with a more generous budget are
searching for options that provide
great value for money. The days
of frivolous spending are most
definitely behind us.”
So, a bit of a mixed bag, and
it obviously depends on where
you are and what sort of business
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Sun City
Increasing regulation, rising business optimism, and a growing appetite for
wellness. These are just a few of the things that promise to shape international
incentive travel, reward, and recognition programmes in 2018, according to the
Incentive Research Foundation.
1. Brand-Asset Culture – a culture wherein a company derives as much value
from its intangibles as it does from its traditional assets – will become a
business imperative in 2018.
2. Market Optimism – the global average annual per-person spend in 2017 —
$3,915 — was a 4% increase on the previous year.
3. Regulation – over 70% percent of respondents said they had made changes
to their programmes’ design, communications, rewards, and/or reporting in
response to regulations.
4. Rising Costs – 60% of incentive professionals say costs are rising faster
than budgets.
5. Risk Management – ensuring programme participant data is secure and
used appropriately is a “central concern” for all types of non-cash award
6. Predictive Technology – predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and
augmented reality capabilities will be a “fundamental requirement” for
vendors and suppliers looking to partner with incentive professionals in
7. Wellness – more incentive professionals are adding health and wellness
components to their incentive programmes.
8. Unique Destinations – incentive planners are interested in new and different
9. Meaningful Merchandise Awards – incentive participants don’t necessarily
want more choice, but rather they want more meaning.
10. Gift Cards – gift cards will gain momentum in 2018.
Source: Incentive Research Foundation & Incentive Magazine
18 | MAY2018
you’re seeing right now.
In terms of the region itself,
though, there does appear to be a
sense of optimism that there are a
few key elements in place, political
change in certain countries has
been for the good, and there has
been MICE development in some
ambitious markets.
“South Africa, and the entire
SADC region, stands to gain
from an influx of business
tourism – assuming a conducive
environment is created,” says
Craig Newman, CEO of the
Johannesburg Expo Centre
and incoming president of the
international exhibition body UFI.
Newman believes that business
tourism alone has the ability to
grow ten-fold in the SADC region,
contributing to economic growth
and job creation. However, to
capitalise on the potential, the
region has to overcome issues
such as visa challenges and
international perception around
safety and security.
“In Africa, apart from South
Africa which is considered as a
pioneer in the MICE or business
events industry, other nations
are still on a learning curve to
leverage the opportunities in
this sector,” says Nagendran
Naidu, Convention Centre
Director at Radisson Blu Hotel &
Convention Centre, Kigali. “The
biggest challenge in a particular
destination is the investment
required for a quality venue,
such as a conference centre, and
understanding the return on
investment. This is mainly due
to poor air connectivity in some
destinations, political instability,
poor safety and security, and a
lack of USP or offerings.”
“South Africa is still the
preferred MICE destination, for
now,” says aha’s Makalima. Aha
Hotels & Lodges has a portfolio
of 38 properties, mainly in South
Africa, but also in Namibia,
Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“We have, though, seen more
interest in other African countries
in the last four years, and not
just as an incentive destination,”
says Makalima. “Victoria Falls
is seeing increased tourism
investment, both on the Zambia
and Zimbabwe sides, and it won’t
The future of travel
and events is here.
be long before the South African market and the rest of the
African continent and source markets such as the UK and
Europe, China and India, start to see this area as an ideal
destination for incentives and team-building options.”
AVANI Victoria Falls Resort
The IBTM Report identifies three main trends when
throwing forward to what might dominate the meetings and
events industry in the near future.
One of them is that of “the move towards experience.”
The report goes on to say that “the ILEA UK Chapter
(International Live Event Association) characterises this
trend as a shift in where the industry sees its own value,
from an operationally effective industry, to that of a creative
one. Whereas once meetings and events were evaluated on
their organisation, they are now valued for their long-lasting
impacts on people, companies and industry.”
No surprise, then, that event organisers, PCOs and
suppliers are being pushed by clients to come up with fresh,
new ideas.
“We have noticed an increase in experiential requests,”
says Beattie. “Our MICE guests want more personalised and
authentic local activities. Also popular are unusual culinary
experiences such as the foraging opportunity offered by The
Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town. Other requests include nontraditional meeting places, such as outdoor spaces, or more
innovative seating arrangements for smaller groups.”
“Planners are looking for meeting, conferencing and
networking spaces that are different,” says Neelma Maru,
Director of Sales & Marketing at the recently-opened
Moevenpick Hotel & Residences Nairobi. “They are looking
for fresh ideas, experimenting with space and are open
to holding their events, talks, workshops and networking
sessions in creative spaces.”
“Meeting organisers and conference attendees are bored
of the same tired old spaces,” agrees Marc Wachsberger,
Managing Director of The Capital Hotels & Apartments.
“We’re also seeing a trend towards more health-conscious
choices on the menus and some of the larger groups require
foreign exchange facilities on site.”
A new phase of travel management where MICE
is incorporated within travel programmes has
emerged. South African corporates are seeing the
benefits of visibility, consolidation of data, better
compliance and overall cost reductions that come
with consolidating travel and MICE.
Combining the best in travel technology with
empowered, experienced people, FCM Travel
Solutions can now deliver strategic conferencing,
incentive travel and cutting edge corporate events.
Visit to find out more
Call 0877 40 5151
2 0 1 67
Africa's Leading
Travel Management
Africa's Leading
Travel Management
BEE Level 2 Contributor
“ In Africa, apart from South Africa
which is considered as a pioneer in the
MICE or business events industry, other
nations are still on a learning curve to
leverage the opportunities in this sector. ”
Cape Town International Convention Centre
aha Makalali Private Game Lodge
20 | MAY2018
Kevin Clarence, Director at
Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo
Conference Centre to the east of
Johannesburg, picks up on this
“Big buffets and rich sweet
snacks are changing to healthier
options where quality is over
quantity,” he says. “These special
requests are often a sign of each
company’s push for healthier
On top of that, Clarence has
seen a definite shift in the types
of requests his customers are
putting through.
“An ordinary workshop now
becomes a themed exercise with
the client’s expectations being that
Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo
Conference Centre would need to
provide the means to successfully
make this happen,” he says.
“Also, no longer do groups have a
conference/workshop one week, a
banquet another, or an exhibition
the following month. The trend we
are seeing is a merging of these
types of events.”
Not only are clients becoming
more conscientious about what
their delegates are eating, but
also the impact the event itself is
having on the environment, and
this appears to be a recurrent
“We have had several requests
for ‘green tourism’, such as ecofriendly lodges,” says Makalima.
“Also, clients want to become
involved in eco-tourism and local
community projects to uplift and
promote local communities.”
Aha Hotels & Lodges are also
seeing a change in the requests
filtering through to them.
“We are seeing requests that
are outside of the norm and the
industry as a whole is changing
as companies and individuals
are wanting to be treated as
such,” says Makalima. “The stock
standard doesn’t cut it anymore.
It is imperative to be flexible,
because today the group is looking
for Zulu or Xhosa traditional
catering and the next group is
looking for vegetarian or Banting
All of which means that
suppliers have to retain that
flexibility and open-mindedness.
“At a hotel level we treat each
enquiry (and client) as unique, so
that we are able to tailor an option
that fits the client, their needs and
also their budget,” says Meier.
“Environmental stewardship also
remains a pressing matter, more
so in the many areas of South
Africa that are currently suffering
under a crippling drought.”
So, how to stay relevant? Well,
listening is a good start, as
clearly clients are not wanting
what they’ve had before, and
as each event – whether it ’s a
meeting, conference, exhibition or
incentive programme – finds itself
under increasing pressure to be
unique, suppliers in this space are
going to have to stay on their toes
and remain f lexible.
“This is a highly competitive
market,” says Beattie. “To stay
relevant, it is important to keep
abreast of global MICE trends,
understanding what g uests
The moment business
became pleasure
are being offered elsewhere,
and to match or improve this.
Innovation and technolog y
are also key in this space. The
challenge to retaining this market
is to constantly evaluate our
offering in relation to the rest of
the market, and to continually
innovate and improve our
Beattie touches on the issue of
technolog y, and this is not to be
under-estimated, because there
isn’t an area of the industr y that
has not been greatly impacted by
technological advancement. So,
why wouldn’t MICE practitioners
maximise the options it offers?
“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 Maru. “Also conference
rooms with advanced technolog y
systems, good internet speed and
good and natural light.”
At the end of the day, though,
there is no substitute for the faceto-face interaction.
“Nothing can beat the
high level of interaction and
collaboration that comes with
meeting face-to-face and off
site,” says Raul de Lima, General
Manager at Sun Cit y. “The
opportunities to connect, engage
and create that conferences offer,
certainly promote teamwork,
productivit y and performance.”
Or, as Reed Exhibitions’
IBTM Trends Watch Report
2017 puts it: “The meetings
and events industr y has always
been robust because delegates
around the world, no matter
what happened the day, week
or month before, still need to
work. Equally, businesses need to
grow, associations need to meet,
knowledge needs to be shared,
and new discoveries and stories
need to be told.” C
Fairmont Zimbali Resort is the ultimate destination for clients looking to
close their next business deal. As a premier conferencing destination,
with 5-star service and state-of-the-art facilities, your next strategic
session will be a memorable one.
Our new expanded conference centre accommodates up to 600 guests,
with the exibility to cater for more intimate venues as well.
The facilities further include 154 well-appointed rooms, mouth-watering
dining options and sparkling swimming pools. After a successful day,
delegates can unwind at the Willow Stream Spa or the fully equipped
gym. For those who enjoy the outdoors, a round of golf or mountain
biking awaits. Fairmont Zimbali Resort is a 15-minute drive from the
King Shaka International Airport.
For capacity charts and further information, please contact our
Sales Team or visit our website.
CALL + 27 (0)32 538 5000
attic rush
MAY2018 | 21
Paris is a well-connected European city and many
view it as a less pricey alternative to the likes of the
UK and Germany. If you find yourself headed to the
French capital, you’re in for a treat, as Kate Kennedy
22 | MAY2018
merica’s third President,
Thomas Jefferson once
said: “A walk about Paris
will provide lessons in history,
beauty, and in the point of life.”
I’m not sure about the latter,
but on my recent trip to Paris, I
definitely experienced the history
and beauty and learned lessons
in both. On top of that, the whole
travel experience was seamless.
Charles de Gaulle Airport is
massive, with the complex
sprawling over 32 square
kilometres. There are three main
terminals and seven sub terminals
inside Terminal 2, all of which are
connected by trains and busses. It
is Europe’s second largest airport,
and it processes nearly 70 million
passengers per year. It is the
hub of Air France, the country’s
national carrier, but also welcomes
upwards of 150 other airlines.
So, CDG is big and busy
and a tad confusing for firsttime visitors. Once you reach
passport control from your
outlying terminal, the chances
of a long queue are good.
Immigration officers are fairly
efficient, scanning and stamping
passports with a minimum of
fuss, but it takes a while to
process the number of passengers
arriving from all over the world.
My Saturday morning arrival
was a busy time at passport
control and I waited nearly an
hour in a long, winding queue
to gain entry into Paris.
Flying out of Paris from CDG,
you’ll most likely be checking
in, or you could find yourself
on and off busses and dragging
your luggage from pillar to post,
as I was. Thankfully, I was at
the airport with plenty of time
to spare, so I wasn’t rushed
or stressed about missing my
flight. I did find the landside
staff very helpful, though.
Air France has self-serve
terminals for you to print your
luggage tags and boarding pass
and you can drop off you bags
without the aid of a staff member.
MAY2018 | 23
“Paris has a huge offering
of meetings and conference
spaces, and hotels and venues
can facilitate almost everything
you could need or want from
a business trip,” says Scott
Alboni, UK/EU Marketing
Director of Corporate Travel
Management in an interview
for the company’s blog.
In a report titled Tourism in
Paris – Key Figures, it references
the fact that there were a little
over 118,000 hotel rooms in the
greater Paris region in 2016. But
demand for accommodation is
increasing and there are plans
to build an additional 12,000
rooms (mostly two and three-star
hotels) between now and 2020.
All the usual suspects are
present – Hilton, Marriott,
Radisson, InterContinental, Accor,
Four Seasons, Hyatt, Kempinski
– along with a number of smaller,
non-branded guesthouses.
My trip included two nights on
a barge docked along the Quai de
l’Oise, courtesy of CroisiEurope,
which operates a number of
barges that tour the waterways of
Europe. Its all-inclusive packages,
which include onboard wi-fi, are
very reasonable, and its range
of themed cruises are popular.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay
on Raymonde, which is staffed
with a chef, purser, captain
and waitress. The 11 cabins on
Raymonde are compact, with two
“ Paris has a huge offering
of meetings and conference
spaces, and hotels and
venues can facilitate almost
everything you could need or
want from a business trip. ”
single beds and a small desk,
but the layout makes good use of
the space available. The dining
room served a buffet breakfast
(don’t pass up the croissants) and
plated lunches and dinners (a
four-course affair every night) of
simple French cuisine. The bar is
always open and the lounge and
sun deck are great places to relax.
I also spent two nights at
Accor’s Novotel Paris Centre
Tour Eiffel. From certain upper
floor rooms you can see the
Eiffel Tower, while other rooms
look onto the River Seine. Its
location gives easy access to the
popular French tourism sites
– the Champs-Elysees, Notre
Dame, the Louvre and more. The
hotel is touted as a mid-scale
hotel for business or leisure.
My room on the sixth floor was
well-sized, with a king-size bed,
tub shower, work desk, minifridge, flat screen T V and a fair
amount of cupboard space.
It’s easy to conduct business
here, with 32 meeting rooms and
free wi-fi. Amenities include a
heated indoor pool, a fitness area,
and souvenir and convenience
stores. A buffet breakfast is
served in N’Café, which offers the
standard fare in both hot and cold
buffets. Uncomplicated, but tasty
and a good way to start your day.
Paris sits in the north of France,
almost equidistant from the
country’s east and west borders.
The city is circular, with the River
Seine separating the south west
quadrant from the rest of the city.
There are a number of ways
to travel around Paris without
getting behind the wheel of
a car. You can take the bus,
tram, metro, train or a taxi.
Taxis are best ordered ahead
of time and all operators charge
a standard fee per trip (not
per passenger, making it a fair
option if you’re travelling with
a colleague or two). This will
get you to your destination
with a minimum of fuss.
Public transport is definitely
cheaper and very comprehensive,
but is a bit daunting and confusing
if you’re not accustomed to it. That
being said, it doesn’t take long to
24 | MAY2018
MAY2018 | 25
figure out the metro – you just
need to know the station you’re
heading to and to pay attention
to the announcements – and be
prepared for a bit of walking.
Thankfully, Paris is pedestrianfriendly, and you’ll join locals
on your way to and from metro
stations and bus stops.
The bus is a great way to get
a little sight-seeing in while you
travel, but you need to know
which bus line to catch and
where to hop off, otherwise you
could get yourself hopelessly
lost. It’s not as easy to navigate
as the metro, but if you can
find a helpful operator to give
you directions, it’s worth it.
You will, of course, need to
buy a ticket for your travels.
Thankfully, the R ATP website sets
out your options in an easy-tounderstand manner, so that you
can decide which pass is the most
suitable for you. Once you know
what ticket you need, you can
purchase it from a metro station
vending machine or ticket desk.
The public transportation
network continues to grow,
thanks to major projects such as
the construction of the Grand
Paris Express — the largest
construction site in railway
infrastructure in Europe — and
the future CDG Express, which
in 2023 will connect Charles de
Gaulle Airport with the heart of
Paris in 20 minutes by train.
Most African citizens require
a Schengen visa to enter
France. The French embassy
in South Africa has appointed
Capago as its visa application
centre. The application process
is simple and quick.
You start with an online
application form, which you
print out and take to a prearranged appointment at the
Capago offices in Johannesburg,
Cape Town, Durban or Pretoria.
There is a stack of supporting
École Lenôtre Yachts De Paris
Get cooking on the banks of the Seine. The finest
chefs at the Lenôtre cooking school share their
expertise in the course of a group dinner and/or
cooking class (from eight to 40 people). Learn to
give traditional French dishes a fresh twist and
how to make French macarons (above).
Paris Saint-Germain
Looking for an unusual team-building event?
Try ‘inside Game Parc des Princes’, a new
generation escape game held at football club
Paris Saint-Germain’s legendary stadium.
Participants make up teams of journalists and
have 90 minutes to investigate a mysterious
Air France-KLM is increasing its presence in Africa in 2018, with
the launch of the Paris-Charles de Gaulle - Nairobi route operated
by Air France. Moreover, Joon – Air France’s “baby sister” that
targets millennial and tech-savvy travellers – has started serving
Cairo and Cape Town from Paris-Charles de Gaulle. There are
three flights a week to Cape Town, on Tuesdays, Fridays and
Sundays. Flights are operated by an Airbus A340-300 with three
cabins – economy, premium economy and business class.
The group now offers 51 destinations and 489 weekly flights to
Africa. In addition, thanks to its joint venture partnership with
Kenya Airways, the group offers more flights between Europe and
Africa and is expanding its network with 26 additional destinations.
Air France has daily flights from Johannesburg to Paris, operating
either an Airbus A380 or Boeing 777. There are four cabins on
offer – economy, premium economy, business and first class.
26 | MAY2018
Mason de la Radio
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be
a radio presenter, columnist or reporter, you
can find out at the Maison de la Radio. This
three-hour ‘World of Radio’ experience lets you
develop your creativity and teamwork skills.
Participants form groups and put together
a news bulletin in simulated live broadcast
See Paris like never before – flying a jetpack
over the French capital. Test out this brand-new
attraction combining virtual reality technology,
flight simulators and special effects in an 800m2
space. Take off, accelerate, hover to enjoy
panoramic views of the city, and land near a
documentation that you need to
gather for your appointment, but
this is clearly laid out in an email.
The appointment is basically
a chance to hand in your
paperwork and photos and
have your biometrics recorded.
Your passport is ready for you
to collect, or have delivered
(for a fee), in about 48 hours.
Overall, I found this process
pretty straightforward and
cheaper than other visas. I
was also granted a multi-entry
visa without even requesting
one. I was notified to collect
my passport from the Sandton
office in just over 24 hours.
In 2016, Paris organised 1,180
congresses, conventions and
conferences and hosted 854,000
delegates. These numbers are
up from 2015, so although
the 2017 edition of Tourism in
Paris – Key Figures hasn’t been
released yet, it’s fair to assume
that there were even more
events and delegates last year.
Each year, the city holds
around 400 fairs and trade shows,
attracting nearly 10 million
visitors and 100,000 exhibitors.
The International Congress
and Convention Association
recently declared Paris ‘the
world’s leading city for hosting
international congresses’.
Venues include 17 congress
and exhibition centres, around
100 meeting rooms and even
more classic, modern and
unconventional venues.
“To gear up for the 2024
Olympics and retain its ranking
as a world leader in the MICE
industry, the destination is
modernising its airports and
developing new urban transport
solutions,” says Pierre Schapira,
President of the Paris Convention
and Visitors Bureau. “It also has
a brand-new congress centre, the
biggest in Europe, designed to
host major international events.”
Not just a desirable or romantic
leisure destination, but a MICE
location of note, with much to
offer the open-minded delegate. C
Nausicaa, the French National Sea Experience Centre, opened in 1991 and has
been intriguing visitors with its 58,000 aquatic inhabitants ever since.
Le Grand Musee du Parfum
If you’ve ever wanted to learn about what goes into the creation of perfume, you
need to visit this museum. The cultural experience was designed to be a living,
evolutionary venture, with olfactory discoveries and sensory immersions as part
of the exhibit.
Musee National de Ceramique de Sevres
Aside from the museum that showcases porcelain creations through the ages,
and a few floors of exhibition space for art, the complex also houses a studio
where artists create new artefacts using techniques passed down from master to
Gallia Paris
France is known for its wine, but that doesn’t mean the art of beer has been
abandoned. The history of the Gallia microbrewery dates back to 1890, when it
was known as the Old Gallia Brewery. You can visit the Parisian brewery for a
taste, or you can enjoy a cold one at a number of restaurants and bars around
the city.
MAY2018 | 27
On the up
Thanks to ease of access, an ambitious national airline, a growing
hotel landscape, an active convention bureau, and a stunning
conference centre, Kigali is starting to flex its muscles as an African
business travel destination of choice.
28 | MAY2018
igali is the capital and
largest city in Rwanda,
located in the geographical
heart of the country. It has been
Rwanda’s economic, cultural, and
transport hub since it became
capital at independence in 1962.
To embrace the Kigali of today,
it’s important to understand
its complicated past. In 1994,
800,000 ethnic Tutsi citizens were
systematically murdered by their
Hutu neighbours over the course
of 100 unspeakably brutal days.
But the past 24 years have seen
Rwanda put its troubled past
behind it and build towards a
prosperous future, with Kigali at
the centre of it.
The Rwandan government has
identified the business events
industry as a growth opportunity
for the country, with the Rwanda
Convention Bureau mandated to
grow this sector.
The catalyst for this growth
has been the formation of the
RCB and the opening of the
Kigali Convention Centre and
adjacent Radisson Blu hotel in
2016, with Marriott International
also opening a property in 2016.
Together with a small, but efficient
airport, clean and easy-tonavigate city, friendly locals and
an already-inviting leisure tourism
offering, suddenly Kigali can make
a case as an African business
events destination of choice.
According to data from the
Rwanda Development Board,
the 27th African Union Summit
in Kigali in 2016 pumped an
estimated $4.2 million into the
Rwandan economy, while some
$2.4 million was received from the
World Economic Forum on Africa
in the same year.
Kigali has hosted a series of
other large events since 2016 and
this year will see, among others,
events such as the International
Conference on Human Rights
& Prison Reform, the Annual
International Hospitality & ECOSustainability Conference, and the
13th International Conference on
ICT for Development, Education
& Training e-Learning Africa,
all taking place in the Rwandan
The government aims to earn
$150 million a year from meetings,
incentives, conferences and events,
which would triple in a year what
Rwanda earned from hosting
international meetings in 2013.
Tourism on the other hand, earned
the economy some $340 million in
The government has also
invested heavily in infrastructure
including building inter-city
roads, renovating Kigali’s airport,
facilitating the construction of
five-star hotels, and inking a deal
to build Bugesera International
Airport, 25 kilometres outside
All of which adds up to a
solid foundation for fostering
development and growth in the
MICE sector.
Kigali International Airport
is small, clean and airy, with
large windows. It sits about
10 kilometres east of the city,
with the drive taking roughly
20 minutes. The airport’s
infrastructure has been upgraded
in the past few years and the
expanded facility can now handle
1.5 million passengers annually.
On arrival, there are two visa
queues at passport control – one
for visitors with pre-arranged
visas and a second for passengers
issued visas on arrival. It costs
$30 for a visa and this can be paid
either in cash or by card.
There isn’t too much in the
way of additional extras at Kigali
International, aside from a
smattering of duty-free shopping,
a small coffee shop and the
Pearl Airport Lounge, KIA’s only
lounge. It is located airside next
to Gate 1 and is open 24 hours
a day. Economy class passengers
can pay $30 to enter the lounge,
which also accepts Priority
Pass. The Pearl Lounge offers
complimentary drinks, snacks and
wi-fi, as well as a host of electrical
What’s rather useful is that wi-fi
is also available throughout the
airport and is easy to connect to
and use.
Just a heads-up when leaving
the country – there are various
security check-points when
entering the airport precinct,
requiring you to exit your car
MAY2018 | 29
Kigali Serena
Population: 12 million
Time: UTC+2
Plugs: Two-pin round
Dialling code: +250
Currency: Rwandan franc $1=853RWF
Language: Kinyarwanda,
French, English, Kiswahili
Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre, Kigali
and deposit your luggage on
the sidewalk, before sniffer
dogs conduct a search. This can
obviously delay the departure
Once you get to the airport,
there’s a full security search at the
entrance to the building, where
you are made to remove shoes
and belts. There’s also a passport
security check. Once airside, you
are screened again at a security
check-point before being allowed
30 | MAY2018
to proceed to the tarmac.
RwandAir seems intent on
growing its route network every
year. It already has a substantial
network of approximately
30 destinations, including
connections to some of the African
continent’s most important
business travel destinations,
such as Johannesburg, Lagos,
Abuja, Accra, Abidjan, Nairobi,
Entebbe and Dar es Salaam, whilst
early-2018 saw the airline add
Cape Town to its route network.
Internationally, RwandAir flies
to London, Brussels, Dubai and
Meanwhile, preparations are
advancing on the construction
of a new international airport
outside Kigali at Bugesera, which
is projected to have its first phase
complete by December.
Kigali has received a fair bit of
interest from international hotel
chains over the last few years,
with Radisson Hotels and Marriott
both entering the market in the
past two years. These two groups
offer stiff competition to the wellestablished Kigali Serena, once the
only five-star hotel in the city.
• Visa on arrival for citizens of all
• Rwanda is the 9th Safest country in
the world.
• Kigali - the cleanest city in Africa.
• Winner of Africa’s Leading
Conference Hotel and Rwanda’s
Leading Conference Hotel, World
Travel Awards 2017, the Iconic
Kigali Convention Centre, can
accommodate more than 5,500
guests in 18 versatile meeting venues.
• Winner of Africa’s Leading New
Hotel, World Travel Awards 2017, the
five-star Radisson Blu Hotel offers
292 modern guest rooms and suites,
four restaurants and bars, spa and
• Exceptional service quality
by professional team of event
Kimihurura Roundabout,
P.O. Box 6629, Kigali, Rwanda
+250 252 252 252
MAY2018 | 31
The most recent development,
though, was the announcement in
2017 that the 153-room Ubumwe
Grande Hotel in the Kigali CBD
would trade under the upscale
DoubleTree by Hilton brand
when it fully converts in 2018.
This franchised property has 134
rooms and 19 apartments and will
undergo some changes in order
to rebrand. It will be Hilton’s
first property in Rwanda and
once rebranded will trade as the
DoubleTree by Hilton Kigali City
Hilton are obviously hoping that
property will be able to provide
some competition to the Radisson
Blu Hotel & Convention Centre,
Kigali, which opened in 2016
and has been grabbing market
share due to its location adjacent
to the city’s premier convention
centre, and its comprehensive
offering. It has 292 rooms and
two on-site restaurants, including
one with all-day dining serving
up continental and Rwandan
favourites, and the Lounge Bar
offering lighter fare and nightcaps.
There are a total of 18 meeting
rooms, including a state-of-theart auditorium that accommodates
more than 2,000 attendees, and
the hotel also offers 650 parking
“ Visit the gorillas – this is a
bucket-list experience, if you
have the money and the time to
get out of Kigali for the day. ”
1. Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre – this tribute to victims of the 1994
Rwandan genocide includes exhibits, graves and a garden, and whilst it can
be a harrowing experience, it’s a must-do Kigali activity.
2. Presidential Palace Museum – the former presidential house with exhibits on
Rwandan history.
3. Kandt House Museum – this museum depicts the flora and fauna of
Rwanda’s natural parks and the geological background of Rwanda, along with
Germany and Rwanda’s shared history.
4. Inema Arts Centre – Inema provides space for 10 artists-in-residence to
explore their creative talent. Specialising in contemporary African art, Inema's
artists produce painting, sculpture, and mixed media expressions.
5. Visit the gorillas – it’s pricey, with the Rwandan Development Board doubling
the price of the required permit from $750 to $1500 last year, but this is a
bucket-list experience, if you have the money and the time to get out of Kigali
for the day.
32 | MAY2018
Radisson Hotels bolstered its
offering in 2017 by opening the
161-room Park Inn by Radisson.
The hotel is just five kilometres
from the convention centre, offers
complimentary high-speed wi-fi,
good food at the Live Inn Room
Restaurant and the lobby bar,
drinks and snacks at the Pool Bar,
and has ample parking, function
rooms, a night club, swimming
pool, g ym, beauty salon and
treatment rooms.
So, a feather in the cap for
Radisson Hotels – the first
international hotel group with
two properties in Kigali, with the
more ‘premium’ Radisson Blu next
to the convention centre, and the
more ‘select services’ Park Inn by
Radisson a short drive away.
The Kigali Marriott opened
in September 2016. It offers 254
rooms and 1,500m 2 of meeting
and event space. Guests have a
choice of dining options with four
restaurants and three bars on site.
In addition to a heated outdoor
pool and spa treatments, Saray Spa
Wellness & Fitness offers a fullyequipped gym, free fitness classes,
and a sauna.
Serena assumed control of its
Kigali property in 2008, adding
a new wing of accommodation, a
spa and conference facilities. The
Kigali Serena, about 20 minutes’
drive from the airport, is among
the premier conference venues in
the city, with a permanent marquee
that can accommodate 1,000 people
and a ballroom that can take up
to 800 guests. There are also a
number of other rooms for smaller
gatherings. The Milima Restaurant,
overlooking an inviting clear blue
pool, serves some of the best food
in the city.
Local group, CityBlue Hotels has
two properties in Kigali, in the
form of the Embassy Row Hotel &
Suites and the Urban by CityBlue.
Within a 10-kilometre radius
of Kigali International Airport
are Hotel Chez Lando, Top Tower
Hotel, Step Town Motel, Stipphotel
and, of course, the famous Hôtel
des Milles Collines. Opened in
1973 and on the receiving end of
global interest since the Hollywood
movie Hotel Rwanda in 2004, Hôtel
des Mille Collines offers 112 rooms
and suites in the heart of Kigali.
Kigali Convention Centre
1. Poivre Noir – combines French and Belgian influences with Rwandan
2. Repub Lounge – serves some of the best brochettes (skewered cubes of
grilled savoury meat or fish) and has live music
3. Heaven – for a weekend brunch buffet
4. Brachetto – Italian, Mediterranean, European cuisine
5. L’epicurien – French, European, gastropub cuisine
entry point. A $30 fee is still
payable, but there is no need to
If you are visiting Kenya and/
or Uganda as well as Rwanda, you
should consider applying for an
East Africa Tourist Visa. It costs
$100 and is valid for 90 days.
Kigali Convention Centre is
positioned on a hilltop in the
heart of Kigali and has become
the premier conference venue in
Rwanda since opening in 2016.
The unique translucent
dome, modelled on a traditional
‘king’s palace’, holds 18 multifunctional venues and has space to
accommodate over 5,000 delegates.
This includes an auditorium
spanning 1257m 2 and offering
plenty of space and convenient
partitioning solutions for walls and
floors. It’s ideally suited to large
conferences, concerts and meetings.
There are also a host of large
conference halls and smaller
meeting rooms, and a pre-function
area spanning 2416m 2 .
All the venues are equipped
with high-quality audio-visual
Nationals of the Democratic
Republic of Congo can visit
Rwanda without a visa for a
period of up to 90 days.
Citizens of the East African
Community – Burundi, Kenya,
Tanzania and Uganda – can
obtain a six-month visitor pass
(renewable) upon arrival, with no
fee required.
Nationals of South Africa are
issued with an entry visa valid for
a period of up to 30 days, upon
payment of $30. Those wishing to
stay for longer than 30 days and/
or enter more than once can exit
and re-enter Rwanda to obtain
another 30-day visa, or pre-apply
for a tourist visa, valid for 90 days
with multiple entry.
Nationals of all other African
countries are issued with an entry
visa upon arrival at any Rwandan
A yellow fever vaccination
certificate is required for travel to
Motorcycle taxis are the most
popular in Kigali, as it is the most
cost-effective way to get around.
Laws require these “taxi motos”
to wear identifiable jerseys and
helmets, and that they carr y
an extra one for their clients at
all times. Most drivers speak
basic English or French. Private
taxis are common and can be
found at designated taxi stops
throughout Kigali. One can also
hire a private taxi by phone or if
at any hotel, reception can book a
recommended driver for you.
MAY2018 | 33
The Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa
International acquired Starwood
Hotels and Resorts in 2016, creating
the world’s largest hotel company.
You wouldn’t know it to look at the
hotel – the property didn’t change
its appearance at all; the acquisition
influenced only the corporate segment.
Members of the old Starwood loyalty
programme still earn points and
rewards and have access to the SPG
lounge at The Westin Turtle Bay – a
quiet, comfortable, exclusive space.
WHERE IS IT? The resort sits on the
beachfront of the north-west coast.
It’s about an hour’s drive from Sir
Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International
Airport along the highway. Incidentally,
Mauritius is a four-hour flight from
Johannesburg and the route is serviced
by Air Mauritius and South African
ROOM FACILITIES: My ocean-view
room was huge, with doors opening to
a private balcony. The king-size bed
sat in the middle of the room, with the
really large bathroom situated behind.
There was a nook for a day bed, a work
desk, a sofa, a coffee table, and a large
flat-screen T V. The kettle and mini-bar
greeted me as I walked through the
door, housed in a wooden cabinet. The
bathroom was almost the same size as
the bedroom, with his-and-hers basins,
a free-standing bath tub, a shower,
a vanity desk and loads of cupboard
space. It was such a great room that,
if the sea hadn’t been so close, I might
have never found reason to go outside.
34 | MAY2018
are four restaurants and t wo bars
on the propert y. Kangan ser ves
Indian cuisine; Fusion specialises
in contemporar y interpretation of
Mauritian heritage; and Beach Grill
offers alfresco dining. Seasonal Tastes
is the hotel’s buffet restaurant, w ith
extensive offerings. Choose from
Chinese, Indian, pasta, fish, salad
and roasts for dinner. I opted for
lamb chops and salad for mains and
a sliver of g reen tea cake and coconut
Mille Feuille for dessert. I wanted
to tr y out so many other dishes, but
there just wasn’t space. T he breakfast
buffet was just as extensive, w ith
fresh fr uit, freshly-squeezed juice,
cereal, pastries, cold meat, cheese,
eggs, sausage, pancakes and f lapjacks
alongside traditional Indian and
Chinese dishes. I started my day w ith
a ham and cream cheese croissant and
a cappuccino.
FACILITIES: The resort offers four
customisable meeting rooms, the
largest of which can accommodate
200 delegates. There’s also The Westin
Lawn – a private outdoor area with
its own entrance that can be fully
customised for banqueting functions,
events and conferences for up to 400
guests. The in-house events team will
turn your ideas into reality. There is
also a fully-equipped business centre
available day and night.
the beachfront, the sea and its related
sports are the most obvious leisure
facilities. The hotel offers a long list
of complimentary activities, including
kayaking, pedalos, windsurfing,
glass bottom boat rides, sailboating,
snorkelling, water skiing, tennis,
bocce ball, football, basketball, table
tennis and badminton. There are also
two swimming pools, a gym, and a
spa for those guests who want a little
pampering. Westin has partnered with
New Balance to lend athletic shoes to
guests for a small fee, so if you find
yourself without yours but want to work
out, you have access to a pair of good
quality shoes. Included in the fee is a
pair of brand-new socks which are yours
to keep. The shoes are fresh and clean.
VERDICT: The Westin Turtle Bay
effortlessly mixes business with
pleasure, offering well-equipped
meeting and conference facilities,
dining options to suit just about every
taste, and down-time activities for
almost every interest. Staff are friendly,
but professional, and will go out of
their way to assist guests.
Kate Kennedy C
A: Balaclava, Turtle Bay, Mauritius
T: +230 204 1400
SAA Airbus 320-200 Business Class
BACKGROUND: The national flag
carrier of South Africa, SA A services
56 local and international destinations
from O.R. Tambo International Airport,
its hub. SA A flights to Tanzania
depart from Johannesburg every day,
at different times and arrive at Dar es
Salaam three hours and 20 minutes
later. Return flights depart Dar es
Salaam mid-afternoon and arrive in
Johannesburg in the evening.
CHECK-IN: At ORTIA there was a
short queue at the SA A business class
counter in Terminal B. Check-in can
be done online, but I prefer to do it
in person. You may take two pieces of
luggage, at a maximum of 32 kilograms
each, and a maximum dimension of 158
control was busy, but with a steady
flow, so I was through in a few minutes.
Voyager members and business class
passengers have access to the SA A
lounges, depending on your status.
(Note: for your return journey in Dar
es Salaam, there is only one business
class lounge, with comfortable leather
seats but simple, canteen-like food and
box wine). Boarding – in Terminal A –
was on time, with all passengers taking
a short bus trip to the aircraft. The
boarding stairs are at the front of the
THE SEAT: In business class there are
24 padded, 50.8 centimetres tan coloured
leather recliner seats. Configuration
is four seats per row, with a central
aisle. Storage is ample, with generous
overhead compartments on both sides of
the plane. I found my window seat, 6A,
with its 100-centimetre recline, to be
perfectly comfortable. Legroom is more
than adequate, even for a tall person
like myself, plus stowage space under
the seat is big enough for my camera
bags. The food tray folds out from the
seat arm – well designed for easy dining.
All seats are comfortable, with easilyadjustable headrests with adaptable
ears. None are too close to the galley.
Amenities include quality headphones
for the audio and video, AC power,
individual USB and laptop charging
point, and a PC/tablet holder. Only one
video is shown during the flight, on
overhead screens shared between two
rows of seats.
THE FLIGHT: I was offered a flute
of champagne once I was settled.
Departure was relaxed and taxiing onto
the runway was on time. After a short
wait, the plane took off comfortably.
Soon after take-off, I was offered
a steaming hot hand towel by the
flight attendant, who was articulate,
polite and efficient. Fifteen minutes
into the flight I was handed a menu,
neatly printed in French and English,
comprising appetisers – smoked salmon
rose, Caprese stack and seasonal
salad – main course options – venison
loin, chicken breast, Kingklip fillet
or vegetarian pancake – followed by
dessert and cheese and crackers. Each
course was neatly served on a china
plate, on a tray with a linen cloth. An
array of alcoholic beverages, including
fine South African red and white
wine, was available throughout the
flight. Tea and coffee were served, plus
additional water or juice. The tray was
cleared away immediately after I was
finished my meal. A range of South
African newspapers and magazines was
obtainable. The South African captain
communicated height and speed of the
plane, also informing us when the plane
had begun its descent to Dar es Salaam.
ARRIVAL: The plane touched down
on time, with a flawless landing. Exit
was immediate and I took a short stroll
to the airport building ahead of other
passengers, where I had a brief wait in
passport control. No visa is required for
South African passport holders, so make
sure you don’t join the long queue for
visas. Walk to the left of this queue and
straight to passport control.
VERDICT: This journey was a luxurious
and relaxing experience for me. I
enjoyed departing at the unpressured
time of 10h30, after a leisurely morning
trip to ORTIA. For business and leisure
travellers, SA A is excellent for a reliable,
on-time flight direct to Dar es Salaam.
Gillian McLaren
MAY2018 | 35
(image © Khalifa Louie, Cool Pixxs Studios)
Neelma Maru
Director of Sales
and Marketing,
Mövenpick Hotel &
Residences Nairobi
New Nairobi Player
Apartment hotels are a growing trend worldwide and Africa is getting its fair share. On 5 April, Mövenpick
opened the Mövenpick Hotel & Residences Nairobi in the Westlands district of Kenya’s capital city. Neelma
Maru, Director of Sales and Marketing, offers more insight into the new property and Nairobi itself.
Q: What was the thinking
behind an ‘apartment hotel’ as
the Mövenpick offering for this
particular property?
A: We wanted something
different for our clients. Most
people who travel for business,
especially for long periods, can
develop homesickness and crave
the nostalgic reminders of home.
Guests appreciate hotels that
create an atmosphere that is more
like a home and comfortable too.
Some simple ideas can do the trick
to create a like-home ambiance
to make a guest feel welcome.
Aspects like in-room refrigerators
and microwaves also allow
guests to bring basic groceries
and prepare simple meals. Our
apartment themes are designed to
make our clients feel at home.
Q: What differentiates this hotel
from others in the area?
A: Mövenpick Hotel & Residences
Nairobi is big on MICE offering
and culinary experience. Standout facilities include the elegant
710m 2 Almasi ballroom with
a built-in stage which can be
converted into two enclosed
sections, and the pillar-less Hall
of Africa with space to host up
to 1,100 guests in theatre style.
All accommodation options are
spacious and feature authentic,
African-inspired décor. The one
and two-bedroom residences,
which are ideal for families or
longer stay guests, range in size
from 97m 2 to 121m 2 and offer a
separate living room and fullyequipped kitchen.
Q: Why Westlands as the hotel’s
A: Westlands is ideal for every
traveller because it is located in
the thriving commercial, retail
and entertainment hub. It is also
close to the city centre, diplomatic
districts and only 20 kilometres
from Jomo Kenyatta International
36 | MAY2018
Q: What’s your view on the state
of business travel in Nairobi?
A: Nairobi business contributes
enormously to the economy
of Kenya. In fact, Nairobi is
considered a business hub for
East and Central Africa. Nairobi,
alone, contributes 60% of
Kenya's GDP. Most companies
that have operations in this
region have headquarters in
Nairobi, including international
organisations and multi-national
companies. Those looking to
establish a new business find
that Nairobi is an ideal location
because of its infrastructure and
liberal markets. Government
policies have encouraged business
growth and a stable economy.
Its modernit y, state-of-the-art
skyline, improved technolog y,
highly educated and trained
manpower, and diverse and
vibrant market have elevated
Nairobi to become the business
hub of the region.
Q: Do you feel that international
business travel is returning
to Nairobi after a difficult few
A: Yes, it is. There is more
economic stabilit y and confidence
in the market is progressive, with
more global organisations looking
into setting up hubs in the capital
to ser ve the region. Investors are
also ver y interested in the market,
hence attracting more business
Q: What’s the Jomo Kenyatta
International Airport experience
like now, compared with, say,
five years ago?
A: JKIA has been ranked as the
most improved airport in Africa.
Travellers can now choose from
the variet y of lounges, ser vices
have been improved, and securit y
has been beefed up. Different
direct f lights have also been
Q: What do you believe the
modern-day business traveller is
looking for in a hotel?
A: They look for factors like easy
check-in services, room service,
in-house coffee shops, g ym access,
wi-fi (preferably free and high
speed), accessibility to various
facilities and interest places, as
well as quality dining options.
Business travellers are often
multitaskers who check their
email and print documents while
enjoying their morning coffee
and having an in-house fax and
printer is also an added advantage
for hotels. Having all of these
amenities with easy access is what
propels business travellers to
select properties and stay loyal to
them. The more available business
amenities, the less expense to the
company footing the bill, which
creates a win-win for both the
guest and the business.
Q: Are there any topical
international hotel trends that you
feel could be applied and used in
the African market?
A: Web check-in to avoid queuing
at reception. Web check-in is
part of our brand signatures,
to be introduced to all the
Mövenpick hotels. Data leveraging
allows hotels to reach the right
audiences with the right content
and enable us to publish more
competitive data across all of our
distribution channels. Mobilefirst indexing is anticipated to be
fully implemented in 2018, which
means optimising hotel websites
and booking pages for mobile
will be a priority for many hotel
companies. Some sources say the
smart room is nigh, while others
say it’s already here. Either way,
we will be seeing more internetinspired hotels rooms in 2018,
with guests unlocking their
rooms, adjusting the lighting and
temperature, and streaming their
Netflix favourites on the T V with
their smartphones. C
Italian Connection
After a 17-year absence from African skies, Italian airline Alitalia recently reinstated direct f lights between Italy
and South Africa. As of 8 April there are four weekly f lights connecting Johannesburg and Rome. Fabio Lazzerini,
Alitalia’s Chief Commercial Officer, provides more information on the f light and the airline.
Fabio Lazzerini
Chief Commercial
Officer, Alitalia
Q: What was the business case
behind the reintroduction of the
Johannesburg service after 17
A: Our hub, Rome Fiumicino
Airport, holds a strategic position
as a natural hub for traffic flows
to and from Europe. In South
Africa there is a strong Italian
presence and the new flight will
serve important trading volumes
between the two countries.
Q: Any other new African routes
in the pipeline?
A: Starting from the winter
season, Alitalia will operate
a new direct flight between
Mauritius and Rome Fiumicino.
The new flight will operate three
times a week with an Airbus
330. The flight schedule allows
for smooth connections through
the Rome Fiumicino hub and
towards national and international
destinations served by the Italian
airline. The outbound flight will
operate every Monday, Thursday
and Saturday from Mauritius,
and every Wednesday, Friday and
Sunday from Rome.
Q: What aircraft and business
class product will be used on the
Johannesburg route?
A: The new flight operates four
times a week with an Airbus 330
aircraft, configured in three travel
classes: Magnifica business class,
premium economy and economy.
In Magnifica class passengers get
priority check-in desks, security
lanes and boarding gates and
can check in two bags of up to
32 kilograms each. In addition,
passengers can access our Casa
Alitalia lounges as well as the
lounges of our airline partners.
On board, our seats are covered
in Poltrona Frau leather and
they recline up to 180 degrees.
The cabin is relaxing, thanks
to a lighting system with lights
that vary in intensity and colour
depending on the time and the
stages of the journey on the new
A330s. The menu includes a wide
range of the best Italian wines,
carefully selected by Alitalia's
sommelier, in collaboration with
the Italian Sommelier Foundation.
Passengers can enjoy the culinary
delights of the different regions
every month and passengers can
choose when to dine thanks to our
“Dine Anytime” service.
Q: What will you be offering
business travellers in your
premium economy cabin and how
is it differentiated from economy
and business class?
A: In premium economy, comfort
becomes a real masterpiece.
Advantages include baggage
allowance of two items weighing
23 kilograms, dedicated checkin desks and priority boarding,
10-inch personal screens, and
ergonomic seats that recline up
to approximately 120 degrees
and offer up to 40% more leg
room. Onboard service includes
a welcome drink, warm hand
towels, espresso coffee by lavazza,
and meals are finished with
limoncello, the typical italian
Q: Is there an onboard wi-fi
offering, and what is the cost to
the business traveller?
A: Magnifica and premium
economy passengers receive
a voucher (50MB and 10MB
respectively) on board for free
wi-fi. If you exceed this allowance,
you can purchase additional data.
Q: What type of business travel
do you anticipate taking place on
this route and are there specific
industries you are targeting?
A: Italy and South Africa have
a strong trading relationship
in the metallurgical, mineral,
agricultural, engineering, energ y
and pharmaceutical sectors.
Alitalia will mainly target Italian
and South African companies and
multi-nationals that are operating
in these sectors.
Q: You mentioned that Rome
Fiumicino airport has undergone
a revamp in recent years. Can you
expand on that?
A: We are particularly satisfied
with the opening of a new ‘E’
boarding area in Rome’s Fiumicino
airport which is dedicated to nonSchengen flights. Thanks to the
new futuristic infrastructure in
Rome’s Fiumicino airport, Rome
and Italy can now finally show
to worldwide travellers a new,
stylish sample that can stand up to
any comparison with other major
global airports. The ‘E’ boarding
area will be the new home of our
long-haul flights and we are able
to offer an even higher top-class
service to our travellers. Thanks
to the reduced distance from
Terminal 1, where we operate our
domestic and Schengen services,
we can accommodate faster
transits for passengers catching
onward flights.
Q: What is unique about Alitalia’s
business class lounges?
A: Casa Alitalia offers passengers
elegant and comfortable spaces
as the next level of celebrating
traditional Italian ambience
and hospitality. In particular,
the Casa Alitalia lounges in
Rome Fiumicino and Milan
Malpensa have been completely
renewed to represent a brandnew hospitality concept under
the hallmark of ‘made in Italy’
with the introduction of the
exclusive live cooking service
where, twice a day, a chef prepares
a selection of pasta dishes and
pizzas in front of the guests.
The catering service at Casa
Alitalia reflects Italian culinary
excellence. Even vegetarian and
gluten-free choices are available.
In addition, there is a buffet and
bar area where guests can try a
selection of Italian wines or enjoy
a typical aperitivo prepared by a
professional bartender. There are
VIP rooms and rooms for private
meetings, a library, a prayer area,
bathrooms with showers, and
wi-fi. Casa Alitalia is a showcase
for the unique values of Italian
excellence, thanks to partnerships
with leading Italian brands such
as Poltrona Frau, Cantine Ferrari,
Lavazza, and Terme di Sirmione. C
MAY2018 | 37
Regional Director
Minor Hotels has
appointed Mark
Havercroft as
Regional Director,
Africa, based in its
Johannesburg regional
office. Havercroft
is responsible for driving the group’s
performance and expansion in Africa
through acquisitions and partnerships,
as well as refurbishing and developing
existing properties and management
contracts. He is also responsible for
the continued growth of its existing
properties and the teams that manage
them. Havercroft joins Minor Hotels
from the Legacy Group where he held
the role of Business Development
and Hotel Operations in Africa. His
prior experience includes business
development, operations and leadership
roles at Lonrho Hotels, Wilderness
Safaris and the Zimbabwe Sun group of
General Manager
Garden Court Nelson
Mandela Boulevard
Hotel has appointed
Trevor Philander
as the new General
Manager. Having
been in the industry
for over 30 years, Philander began his
career with Tsogo Sun as a Porter at
Southern Sun Newlands. He worked his
way up and has held various positions
across Tsogo Sun’s hotels including
Deputy General Manager for a number
of the group’s hotels, General Manager
at Garden Court Kimberley and most
recently General Manager for Southern
Sun Pretoria, the position he held before
moving to Cape Town to take up his
new role.
General Manager
Mmabatho Palms
Hotel Casino and
Convention Resort
has appointed Sisulu
Madondo as its
General Manager.
Madondo, who began
his career in the hospitality industry
over 20 years ago as a slots technician,
will be responsible for ensuring the
smooth running of all daily operations
on the property, as well as maintaining
good relations between Mmabatho
38 | MAY2018
Palms and all stakeholders, including
staff, suppliers and guests. He joined
the Peermont group in 2017 as General
Manager of Frontier Inn and Casino,
before moving on to join the team at
Mmabatho Palms.
General Manager
Protea Hotel Fire
& Ice! by Marriott
Menlyn has appointed
De Villiers Heymans
as the General
Manager. He joined
the Protea Hotels by
Marriott group 10 years ago. Heymans’
first post was in Clarens, before moving
to Gauteng. His most recent position
was as the Deputy GM of the Protea
Hotel Fire & Ice! by Marriott Melrose
James Khoza,
Executive Chef of
Tsogo Sun’s Sandton
Convention Centre,
has been elected the
first South Africanborn and trained
President of the SA Chefs Association
since its inception 44 years ago. Khoza
has been serving as Vice-President of
the association in a joint competitions
portfolio. As President, Khoza is tasked
with heading the association’s governing
body and board of directors, providing
direction for its various initiatives.
Sales Manager
Club Med Southern
Africa has appointed
Nathan Stubbs to
head up its sales,
transport and
customer care team
in Southern Africa.
Stubbs will be responsible for driving
growth and sales in the SA market;
educating clients about the Club Med
brand; enriching the client experience
and ensuring that customer service in
SA matches the client experience at Club
Med resorts. Stubbs has a Business and
Management Degree from Leeds Beckett
Chef. A veteran of
Tsogo Sun, Chef
Ngubane brings over
27 years of culinary
experience from
around the world.
He has held previous
positions with leading
hospitality brands and has been part of
the Tsogo Sun team since 2007. Prior
to joining Crowne Plaza Johannesburg
– The Rosebank, Ngubane served as
the Executive Chef at Tsogo Sun’s
Montecasino Hotel.
Head Chef
Westin Cape Town
has recently appointed
Stephen Mandes
to head up the
kitchen at its flagship
restaurant – ON19.
Prior to joining the
ON19 team, Mandes spent time in
hotel and restaurant kitchens around
the city, including that of the Mount
Nelson Hotel, the Cape Grace, Mondiall
Kitchen & Bar, Restaurant Jardine and
De Grendel Wines. In his new role,
Mandes has been tasked with curating
innovative menu design and restaurant
strategy, with a new winter menu.
The Restaurant at
Neethlingshof in
Stellenbosch has
appointed a new chef,
Brendan Stein, who
has now developed a
fresh new menu. Stein
brings with him extensive experience
spanning 14 years in the industry, years
that have seen him working at the likes
of La Colombe at Contantia Uitsig;
Caffe Milano & 95 Keerom; The River
Café at Constantia Uitsig; &Beyond
Mnemba Island Lodge in Zanzibar;
Vamizi Island Lodge & Private Villa
Collection in Mozambique; Coco Bodu
Hithi Resort in the Maldives; Sabi Sabi
Earth Lodge; Cape Point Vineyards
Restaurant; and most recently,
Indochine Restaurant at the Delaire
Graff Lodge & Spa.
Executive Chef
Crowne Plaza Johannesburg – The
Rosebank has appointed Kenneth
Ngubane as the hotel’s Executive
Still driving
Lance Smith
An audience with Lance Smith, Avis Budget’s Executive: Sales is always an hour or two well-spent, as one of
the South African car rental industry’s most respected executives is a stickler for detail and numbers, always
willing to provide a revealing snapshot into the state of his industry and the ‘road ahead’, as editor Dylan
Rogers found, once again.
t’s a tough business, this car
rental business.
Times are tough, margins are
small, and perception is that it’s an
industry on the wane, under threat
from technolog y in the form of
ride-hailing services such as Uber.
And that’s not all, says Avis
South Africa’s Executive: Sales,
Lance Smith.
He cites additional challenges
in the form of a low average daily
rental rate, car damages, exchange
rate fluctuation, seasonality around
the country’s inbound market, and
the geographical spread of South
Africa’s car rental industry.
But it’s not all doom and gloom,
and before you write off the car
rental market, just take note –
in 2017 this industry in South
Africa was worth R5.6b ($453m)
in revenue, which is not an
insignificant number, and Smith
is optimistic that this number
will grow, given the right set of
conditions and the right amount
of innovation on the part of the
industry’s major players.
But it all starts at home.
“If this economy starts to tick
and go in the right direction,
creating jobs, the local tourism
segment will be the real banker for
the travel industry,” says Smith.
“If this country goes in the right
direction, we see two significant
opportunities, in terms of travel
groups. Internationally, Asia,
and in particularly the Chinese,
and then domestically, the black
emerging market.”
Speaking of those numbers,
40 | MAY2018
according to Smith, 2018’s figures
are so far ‘flat’, in terms of rentals
and revenue hasn’t moved,
compared with these months last
year. Significantly, though, the
inbound market remains “the star
of the show”, up 13% in 2016, up
17% in 2017, and already showing
high single digit growth in 2018.
“You’ll hear a lot in the media
about this market being down, but
I think the formal industry is losing
a lot to online business, and that’s
not being measured or reflected
any where,” says Smith. “Our
international forward order book
suggests otherwise and I’m not
seeing what others are seeing.”
And what about the Cape Town
water crisis?
“We haven’t seen an impact,”
says Smith. “The impact is on our
business, in terms of not washing
cars, but even the announcement of
‘Day Zero’ did not result in a host
of cancellations. The numbers we
are seeing back that up.”
According to Smith, the South
African corporate market is not as
“The good news off the back
of President Ramaphosa coming
to power is not filtering through
just yet,” he says, “although the
sentiment is there.”
If one looks at the South African
car rental market, it’s pretty
competitive, with Avis Budget up
against Europcar and its sister
brand Tempest, Bidvest Car Rental,
First and Hertz, as the industry’s
main players, and whilst Avis and
Europcar are the dominant players,
in terms of market share, Smith is
under no illusions as to what turns
a customer’s head.
“The only place to compete
is on price, and that’s what’s
kept the pricing very low in this
country,” he says. “So, you have
to differentiate yourself around
service, although going forward,
it’s going to be around technolog y.”
With this in mind, Avis is
exploring a number of tech-driven
concepts, including the trialling in
South Africa of a product for people
who don’t want to own a car.
“You pay us a monthly fee up
front, and wherever you are, you
can pick up a car,” says Smith.
Avis is also in the trial phase of
a service that takes the customer
away from the rental kiosk and
allows him or her to pick up their
keys from a self-service ‘post box’.
In terms of the other topical
‘tech’ issues in the car rental
industry, Smith believes driver-less
cars won’t be seen in South Africa
in the next 5-10 years, whilst Uber
is “not having a big impact on
our business. In fact, it’s created
a completely new market that was
never there in the first place. I’m
sure there are customers of ours
that have gone there, but I can’t say
it’s keeping us awake at night.”
In fact, if you ever meet Lance
Smith, I’m sure you’ll agree that he
sleeps rather soundly. C
★ ★ ★ ★
in the heart
of sandton
Tree House
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
Be it the 4 Star luxury rooms, or the meeting
facilities through to our self catering
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
It’s Sand
major arterials,
House offers guest
Be it the 4 Star luxury rooms, or the meeting facilities
through to our unique conference and meeting
Tree House.
T: +27we
(0) call
11 234
M: +27 (0) 71 324 7857
Meet the future
We’re officially open for big business! We pride ourselves on our MICE offering. We have created
dynamic spaces in which you can host almost any size of delegation and enjoy the amenities you
would expect from an establishment of our repute.
Mkungu Close, Westlands | 49719-00100 | Nairobi | Kenya
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