As the CEO of an African hospitality group, I spend a fairly big chunk of my time travelling across the continent. And I spend a fair amount of time signing off on the visa expenses of my team members who travel within Africa. And sometimes, I throw my hands up in frustration when a team member’s visa is denied for no apparent reason, even though they are travelling for business.
Now imagine this frustration as a potential tourist or visitor. There are myriad campaigns encouraging us to explore our own doorstep first before going overseas. So you want to let your wanderlust take you from South to North Africa or East to West Africa but you’re stopped in your tracks by the red tape and cost implications of pricey visas.
There’s a terrible misconception by hotel management companies that hotel owners are interfering, ill-informed nuisances who should leave hotel management companies to do what they do – manage their hotels. Being a hotel owner and a hotel operator, I find myself in a quandary with this one; I wear both hats.
Twenty years ago, South Africa had three prominent hotel schools, training approximately 600 students per year, very good, renowned hotels schools that each churned out around 70 white kids (mostly males, as women were generally considered too ‘soft’ for the industry) from the middle to upper-class suburbs of South Africa. As the large hotel groups also focussed on training industry ‘wannabees’, I would estimate that collectively our industry trained and placed 180 hotel school graduates annually.
I often come across hotel owners who insist that their hotel is performing well and as such, they see no need for a marketing strategy or a dedicated sales effort. If your hotel is reaching target with little or no sales or marketing, then you are sitting on a perfect 10!
Start-up. Sounds like an exciting journey, doesn’t it? I have to say, exciting is true in every way, but the realities of a start-up can be challenging in many regards as well, not the least of which is staff turnover.