Speaking during a Gordon Business Institute of Science (GIBS) Forum on Tuesday, 8 May 2012, Graham Wood, managing director of the newly rebranded Tsogo Sun Hotels, pin-pointed innovation, relevance, emphasis on ambiance and a defined vision as key dynamics for the creation of successful hospitality businesses.

“As an industry that sells aspiration and escape rather than a product where our success is measured by our ability to sell that service and exceed the expectation of the customer, it is important to keep competitive by embracing novelty while still keeping to our brand values and integrity,” commented Wood.

The hospitality sector is a cut-throat industry and there is need for reinvention to keep the competitive edge and create a sustainable sector. Severely hit by the global crunch, businesses need to always find innovative ways to grow and sustain themselves. This will require plenty of going back to the “drawing board” for players in the industry as many hotels are closing their doors due to lack of income. As part of its strategy, the Tsogo Sun brand has over the last few years acquired and revamped distressed hotels and put them back in business. Wood gave an example of the now defunct Grace Hotel in Rosebank where the group is opening a new five-star deluxe Boutique Hotel, 54 on Bath in July. This has given them a competitive edge as they boldly entered into a new market.

Although attractive in its nature, the hospitality industry is faced with many challenges such as, financial sustainability, lack of transient corporate demand, inbound arrivals, cost push inflation, skills shortage and commoditisation, Wood said.

“The global crunch hit our industry very hard in South Africa, however, one of the key challenges is the crippling shortage of relevant skills at middle management level to ensure sustainability and keep jobs in this market,” he added.

Tsogo Sun Hotels have gone back basics by relooking at base businesses such as transient corporate business for income. They have also implemented employee programmes to encourage workers to ‘live’ the brand values and give good quality service to their customers as they are the brand ambassadors.

“At the end of the day, as a service industry we have to ensure we give our customer the best service because if we do not we are out of a job,” he concluded.

Publication: GIBS News