Long distance relationships

BON Blog - Long distance relationships

International hotel management companies have had their fair share of the South African hotel management contract pie for more than a decade. The major players stepped in to our arena more than a decade ago as many operators were keen on the South African market. Asian, European and American hotel management companies have joined the ‘Scramble for Africa’, resulting in an urgency to get deals signed and share of the market secured. Major hotel groups jumped on the bandwagon, culminating in the Marriott purchase of the Protea Group last year.

I was recently invited to participate in a panel discussion at the Hotel Investment Conference Africa held in Johannesburg. The ability of international versus local hotel operators was a hot topic as we now see so many international operators looking further afield in Africa for hotel management contracts, prompting the question: should hotel owners be looking at local or international operators?

Naturally, the salesman in me immediately responds “go with a local operator”!  However, when considered carefully, the argument for the ‘local operator’ is a convincing one. Any good hotelier will confirm that knowledge of the local market is paramount. Our recent move into Namibia and West Africa has got me beating the drum for local operators. (South) African companies can and are succeeding in Africa. We certainly don’t need to step aside for larger international companies who are tapping into this new and very exciting market.

Africa is not about monopoly or owning the market. Africa is about knowledge of the market, appreciating a 3000 year legacy of how things work, understanding challenges and differences in doing business, and most importantly, appreciating earned relationships.
What we do know is that local companies have an edge on international counterparts for obvious reasons. There are no language or time zone issues hindering communication; a local office offers hands-on service as proximity eliminates the challenge of distance; local staff develop relationships with other staff and management resulting in ease and fluency of conducting business and making decisions; a local team will be sensitive to and understanding of cultural diversity as well as having knowledge of the local infrastructure, political climate, risk and challenges.

Understandably, the top projects are developed and funded by the giants in the industry who are building the mega-projects of 500-600 room properties. These guys come with a heavy infrastructure, global systems, bulk international procurement, identifiable clout, and expatriate staff (although very expensive), all very important in the economic scale of development and growth.

My argument, though, is this: there is a lot to be said about having people on the ground, a regional office that is close to the pulse, employing local people at a high level with local know-how, sourcing local goods and developing the local community.
To operate a hotel from another part of the world is not the perfect solution: how much value is being added, and at what expense? We need to deliver the right product to the right market at the right time. How are we going to get that right from a desk in another part of the world?  A long distance is simply not advantageous.


Guy Stehlik, CEO of BON Hotels
Chief Executive Officer

Having grown up in the corridors and reception areas of Cape Town hotels, Guy Stehlik is no stranger to the hospitality industry.


10 000-hour rule 2014 2015 3 Star Hotel 5-star hotels africa African countries African Development African Experience African Opportunities Art of War asia Bank investment Big City Deals BON Academy and Training Institute BON Bill of Rights BON Blitz BON Ethos BON Hotels BON Principles BON STARS BONami Bosses Budget Budgets Business Business Coach Business Relationships Business Rescue Business Travellers Call Centre Cape Town Cape Town Hotels in the CBD Career Day Careers Cash Flow Citizen M Client Colleagues Company Culture Company Start Up Connections Consumer behaviour Core Values Corporate Corporate traveller Corruption COVID-19 Creating Jobs Cruise Liner Industry Debtors Democracy Digital Experience Distressed Hotel Distressed Hotels Entrepreneur Entrepreneurs EXCO meetings Family Entertainment Food and Beverage foreign General Manager General Managers Generation Y Get the basics right Global Crisis Goals Good People Government Government initiatives Gratitude Green-fielding growth Guest comment Guest expectations Guests HICA Conference Home life hospitality Hospitality Company Hospitality Industry Hospitality Industry Leaders Hospitality Industry; Statistics; Value-for-money; Government; Holiday; Tourism Hospitality Sector Hotel agreements Hotel basics Hotel contracts Hotel Design Hotel Developers Hotel Developments Hotel Guests Hotel Industry Hotel Investment Conference Africa Hotel Management Hotel Management Company Hotel Management Contract Hotel Management Contracts Hotel Management Personnel Hotel Management; Lease Agreements; Portfolio of Hotels; Management Companies Hotel Operator Hotel Operators Hotel Owners Hotel Rooms Hotel School Hotel take over Hoteliers Hotels Industry Events Industry exhibitions and events International brand International Hotel Brand International Hotel Brands International Hotels It's my Biz Job-seekers Kwazulu Natal Life Lessons Local hotels Local Markets local travellers Lockdown Long-haul Destination Loyalty Programme Loyalty programs Management Company Management Experience Marketing Strategies Meetings Africa Mentoring Mentors Millenials mobile most outrageous job Namib-Cape Route Namibia Nedbank Networking new markets New projects nigeria Operations organic growth organisation Outliers Owner's Bill of Rights owner-staff-guest-centric company Partnerships in Hospitality passion Plan Profitable Business Proposals Public Relations Publicity Relationships Resort Management Return on Ego Return on Investment Revenue Sales skills Sales Team Senior Management Sharing Economy Small Towns social media Solo Travellers south africa South African Banks South African Government; Politics; Department of Home Affairs; Investors; Tourism South African Tourism South Africans Staff Staff movements Strategic Planning Student life Survey Talent Targets Team member Technology Teen Entertainment Third part agent tourism Tourism Industry Tourism markets Trade Shows Training travel trends Vaccine Value Value adds Value for money Values Verbal abuse; Racial abuse Visa West Africa Wi-Fi Women in the workplace Work hours Xenophobia Young Talent Zambia


12% off when you
book online via www.bonhotels.com

You’ve got this in the bag!

Book Now

Hotel Reservations