The African hotel and hospitality market has immense resilience and potential. Recognising this and facilitating a platform for African hospitality to thrive, the Hotel & Hospitality Show, hosted by dmg and Kaoun took place at the Sandton Convention Centre last week to foster growth and collaboration within the sector.
“The Hotel & Hospitality Show connects brands and bolsters networking opportunities across Africa’s hospitality market,” said Evan Schiff, Group Event Director at dmg events. “The turn out this year indicates confidence in the industry and the desire to keep doing business, better than ever.”
Gugu Sithole, Chairperson of the Johannesburg Tourism Company discussed the drive to promote Johannesburg as a top destination in Africa, with a globally competitive edge. “If we build effective partnerships, we can do so much more to reclaim our spot as a world-class African city.” She noted that Johannesburg placed third behind Cairo and Algiers as one of Africa’s Top Business Cities, according to the Global Business Cities Index for 2022.
In 2022, Johannesburg was also named as one of the world’s best cities for arts and culture, achieving 38th place, according to the global publication Big 7 Travel. This is not only testament to the City’s 76 art galleries (which comprise the largest art collection in the country), but also to its iconic signature events which include several annual arts and culture festivals, as well as events like the Africa Rising Film Festival and the Festival of Lights at the Joburg Zoo.
Schiff and Jeff Blackbeard, Regional Director of Africa and the Middle East for Moore Global, confirmed how important big events have been in the global hospitality market’s recovery overall, and even though there are challenges, the industry feels confident and optimistic about the future.
Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo Chief Operations Officer of City Lodge Hotel Group recalled the difficulties during the pandemic alongside the triumphs such as when intra-province travel was finally reinstated. The brand evolved to accommodate local families and business travelers, no longer just the latter. “We must remember how far we have come,” she said. The resilience and creativity of the industry are admirable and there are many opportunities for growth amidst an excellent recovery so far.
Five-star, luxury travel is seeing healthy activity, particularly in Cape Town, amidst higher flight prices. “We’ve seen a more sophisticated traveler emerge over the last 8-12 months,” said Mike Vroom, Africa Executive Director for Newmark Hotels.
The Mother City’s leisure-driven recovery equates to a nightly rate of R3000 on average for five-star accommodation, compared to R526 in Joburg and Kwazulu-Natal.
Technology and automation have been major disruptors to the hospitality industry, particularly borne out of the pandemic.
Shaun Williams, Founder of Escapism, a company that creates digital experiences to promote wellness, good sleep and better studying, said that leveraging AI to improve the guest experience was essential to consider, especially to stand out as a brand. He suggested crafting a guest experience that immerses virtual visitors into your offering, ensuring no one is excluded, while boosting the chance for more bookings and for guests to reminisce and rebook.
Embracing technology, wherever it makes sense, is vital to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of an establishment. Williams suggested focusing on unique selling points and particularly highlighted nature as a drawcard for guests – such as offering a virtual walking tour to a nearby waterfall.
The pursuit of wellness and nature was a theme mirrored in the most recent Hospitality Confidence Index survey by Moore Global and dmg covering insights from 17 different countries in Africa. Key travel trends include nature-based getaways or medical tourism focused on wellness, along with ESG considerations for sustainable tourism and destinations.
Louis Cottar from Cottar’s Safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara region has found this to be true saying that fresh approaches, and meaningful guest engagements have become popular. In addition to game drives, unique, indigenous, and conservation-aligned experiences to celebrate the community and nature take place.
Participation in international travel trade shows also puts brands on the map. “Events like the Hotel & Hospitality Show help to promote new business,” Graham Wood, Chief Operating Officer of Sun International commented.
Collaboration can create immense success. This is particularly true in the township economy if leveraging off each other to create a value chain. According to Wendy Alberts of the Restaurant Association of South Africa, there is immense talent based locally and an opportunity to combine passion and community upliftment. She noted how important it is to remove reliance on landlords and government to fund progress and to band together as local businesses. This would also go towards tackling high levels of unemployment. “We need people to invest time and energy towards self-sufficiency and sustainability. If everyone contributes, everyone benefits,” she said.
Bheki Twala, President of the Township Economy Chamber of Commerce & Industry encouraged enhanced professionalism. “It’s crucial to instill a professional approach from the parking attendant to the hotel desk, to the bar tender,” he reiterated as excellent service leads to repeat business.
By incorporating top service, local culture and through using technology, hospitality establishments can provide guests with a genuine and meaningful experience, fostering a sense of connection and increasing visitor satisfaction.
Next year, the Hotel & Hospitality Expo Africa and Africa’s Big 7 will join forces with renowned trade show brand in the global interiors industry, INDEX Africa, to bring you one of the largest retail food, hotel, hospitality, and design events Africa has ever seen.
“Through continued strengthening of the industry at tailored events and concerted efforts from stakeholders, Africa can position itself as a premier destination, offering exceptional hospitality experiences,” Schiff concluded.
For more information on the Hotel & Hospitality Expo Africa and to download the latest Hospitality Confidence Index visit www.thehotelshowafrica.com.