Over the last decade Africa’s infrastructure has been expanding steadily and the building and upgrading of hotels has kept pace. This year the hospitality industry in Africa has received a boost from various multinational hotel chains that have made commitments to expand their footprint on the continent. The Four Seasons, Radisson Blu, Marriott, and Protea Hotels have all invested in African developments. The South African hotel group, City Lodge, recently decided to venture into the rest of the continent for the first time with its entry into Botswana and Kenya. Starwood Hotels has announced that it will double its hotel brands on the African continent by 2020.

Growing business ventures and Africa’s economic expansion has had a significant impact on the business events travel and tourism industries. Tourism destinations require leisure hotels to meet the needs of this booming industry. Africa offers the opportunity for multinational hotel brands to branch out and capture a share of this growing market.

David Sand, Global President of the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives (SITE) and CEO OF UWin IWin says that new infrastructure is an essential driver of growth for the business events industry. Eddy Khoza, Chairman of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (FEDHASA) says specifically in South Africa, “upgrades in hotel properties make a huge contribution to boosting the image of South Africa as a destination of choice to the international community.” He notes that in South Africa this will simply be building on a positive trend that resulted from the hosting of the 2010 World Cup. Development of the hospitality industry is a direct way to illustrate to global spectators and investors that Africa is a land of opportunity.

Former FEDHASA Cape Association Chairperson Dirk Elzinga says 45 percent of meetings and conferences in Africa take place in hotels. As this percentage is increasing, new hotels and upgrades are vital. “In order to keep up and grow with the meetings and events industry this growth has to continue,” says Dirk. David agrees, “for sure some African destinations because of their short supply of room nights are some of the most expensive destinations in the world. Only way to solve this is to build till supply equals demand and rates normalize.”

African hotel chains are mirroring their European counterparts when it comes to features that are being integrated into upgrades and new construction. These trends include free Wi-Fi, eco-friendly and green buildings, easy airport access and proximity, and effective loyalty programs. Technology, and keeping up with the technical support needs of the industry is key. It is vital for African hotels to be able to provide the same level of technical support and capability to organizers.

There are definite regions within Africa that is experiencing more growth in the hospitality industry. According to both David and Eddy this can be explained by the diverse gaps in economic growth between African states. However, certain elements are critical for success. “Economic growth is fuelled by many things, but essential for the events and the business tourism sector is good government, safety and health programs, professional destination marketing strategies and great tourism infrastructure,” says David.

An Inside Look at an Upgrade: A Conversation with Graham Wood, Managing Director of Tsogo Sun Hotels

Q: Tsogo Sun is joining the Elangeni and Maharani hotels in Durban. Why?

A: For many years Tsogo Sun has had a prominent presence on Durban’s Golden Mile, with the Southern Sun Elangeni, Southern Sun North Beach, Garden Court Marine Parade, Garden Court South Beach and SunCoast Casino and Entertainment World including the SunSquare and the SunCoast Towers hotels, which offer exceptional variety for leisure and business alike. We believe in the city of Durban and its potential as a world class business and leisure destination and the refurbishment, consolidation and relaunch of the Southern Sun Elangeni and Southern Sun North Beach hotels into one magnificent complex – Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani – reaffirms our commitment to Durban and is directly in line with Tsogo Sun’s vision to provide the greatest possible variety of quality hospitality, leisure, gaming, and entertainment experiences at every one of our destinations.

Furthermore, our investment in the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani complex is a direct response to the substantial investment into the revival of the Durban beachfront promenade by the eThekwini Municipality, which has seen the destination being upgraded and we are proud to be a part of it.

Q: Do you think this will give the combined hotel a competitive advantage in Durban?

A: The investment of R220 million into the complex has created a property that is aspirational, modern and elegant, while retaining the heritage that is so much a part of these two legendary hotels. This, combined with the variety and choice and the ideal location of the property on the Golden Mile and in close proximity to the International Convention Centre, Moses Mabhida Stadium and Durban’s finest beaches, will make it an obvious choice for both business and leisure travelers.

Q: How do you think this joining together will benefit clients of your hotel, and business events clients in particular?

A: The key benefit of combining these two iconic hotels is the increased variety and choice that guests will enjoy. Whether a guest is travelling on business, leisure or as part of a conference, they can enjoy the variety of restaurants, recreation and business facilities across the entire mega complex. The hotel seamlessly combines business and pleasure into a single destination. With a seamless check-in, one point of contact and a vast variety of restaurants, conference facilities and leisure choices, guests can make use of all facilities in both towers and receive one bill at the end of their stay. There are a choice of 734 rooms to accommodate even big groups of conference delegates, 15 conference rooms offering multiple configurations that can cater for 12 to 500 delegates and a selection of eleven restaurants for lunches, afternoon snacks, fine and casual dining, and, in Phase 2, a luxurious Camelot Spa. The sheer variety of restaurants and their aesthetic and culinary appeal means that guests are spoilt for choice and have no need to leave the hotel, making planning and payment of conference packages hassle-free.

We’re also very excited that, in the third quarter of this year, the historic Raffles area will be transformed into a multipurpose venue on top of the Maharani Tower, which will be available for conferences, launches, themed evenings and a myriad of other events with breath-taking views.

Source: International Meetings Review – Film & Event Media