Month: August 2015

Tsogo Sun has significantly expanded its successful Book a Guesthouse programme to include Sun1 hotel operators and housekeepers, to form Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs, an innovative entrepreneurial development programme for the hospitality industry. This move saw a boost in numbers last year with an additional 15 in the Book a Guesthouse programme and 23 Sun1 operators. It was expanded further this year with the inclusion of 10 housekeepers into the programme, bringing the total number of entrepreneurs supported from 85 entrepreneurs to 133.

Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs is a business benefit and development programme that supports various clusters of entrepreneurs within the value chain of the Tsogo Sun group and within the broader tourism industry in South Africa, to support entrepreneurs to develop professionally-operated, compliant, sustainable businesses.

“The continuing success of the Book a Guesthouse programme and our commitment to entrepreneurial development, together with the ever-present need for job creation in South Africa, were drivers in this decision to expand our programme to include more beneficiaries and offer a higher level of support, benefits, and services to them,” explains Candy Tothill, Tsogo Sun’s General Manager: Corporate Affairs.

The programme provides qualifying entrepreneurs with business development support and benefits including skills transfer (business development, coaching, mentorship); value added benefits (endorsement, memberships, marketing, publicity); shared services (extranet, call centre, preferential discounts, business support); business tools (risk assessment and recommendations, software systems, equipment); an integrated supply chain (market access, networking opportunities); and recognition (entrepreneur rewards, certification, awards).

“Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs forms part of the company’s far-reaching sustainability in tourism programme and features a number of established partnerships with government, corporates, industry bodies and development specialists to advance our mutual interests in contributing towards the creation of economic growth in South Africa by supporting emerging enterprises,” adds Tothill.

MEDO (Micro Enterprise Development Organisation), which has been a partner with Book a Guesthouse for several years, has now stepped up its involvement in Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs and expanded its offering to cover a wide range of support services, as well as discounts and special offers on various products and services; procurement support; travel arrangements; access to SMEasy Accounting systems; tender alerts and corporate listings.

Other partners that work with Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs include Beyond Coaching and Tsheto Leadership Academy, which bring coaching and training to the entrepreneurs, depending on the intervention required. Beyond Coaching offers a complete repertoire of coaching and related services for personal or corporate and business development purposes. The Tsheto Leadership programmes are developed to ensure the entrepreneur has the capacity for self-leadership to enable them to succeed. It has the licence to use specific coaching tools. Tsheto Leadership is owned and operated by Queen Ramotsehoa, while Rienzo Colpo is Director for Beyond Coaching.

Tsheto sponsors the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner to receive training in Master 1 – The Awareness Process, which is then delivered by Beyond Coaching. Both partners provide training based on the subject materials allocated to them in the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs – Handbook and group coaching sessions for individual entrepreneurs.

Through Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs, the group is in year one of implementing a long-term plan, which is designed more broadly to address the need for wealth creation in the country. Says Tothill, “The impact on the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs beneficiaries will be monitored and evaluated and adjustments will be made to the model where necessary as the plan unfolds. Enterprise and Supplier Development needs to be undertaken in a manner that really makes a change to the economic landscape in South Africa. Tsogo Sun has been cognisant of this in the design of the Entrepreneurs programme, which is expected to take time to develop and implement, but the results will be meaningful, far-reaching and permanent.”

When entrepreneurs are newly inducted into the programme, they are required to complete a training and development course over one year, after which they are assessed and go on to become alumni or are given further individualised training according to their assessment. Alumni continue to receive benefits and support on the basis of continued adherence to excellence.

The Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme culminates in an annual conference at one of Tsogo Sun’s properties. “The growth of the programme highlights Tsogo Sun’s ongoing commitment to tourism and the South African economy. More than that, the programme uncovers business people with significant potential for success within the country and those with the capacity to create sustainable businesses of an outstanding standard,” says Tothill.

Tsogo Sun has a portfolio of over 90 hotels and 14 casino and entertainment destinations throughout South Africa, Africa, the Seychelles and Abu Dhabi.

For further information go to or You can also join Tsogo Sun on Facebook at /TsogoSun and the Tsogo Sun entrepreneurs at /tsogoentrepreneurs alternatively follow @TsogoSun on Twitter  #TsogoEntrepreneurs.

Only 13 Days To Go before we kick off proceedings at HICA 2015!

If you are looking for a partner or an investor for a new hotel project, then don’t miss the HICA ”Needs & Leads” session scheduled for 10 September 2015. This session presents a unique opportunity for you to present your project or investment concept to potential partners and investors.

All presenters will have a maximum of three minutes each to present their investment ideas to the audience and propose specific ways in which they can get involved. This is your opportunity to learn about new projects that are in the pipeline, get involved as a service provider or to establish new partnerships for mutual gain.

Click here to read more

NASHVILLE, Tennessee—Many factors are converging now that point to success for independent hoteliers, but this group must continue to stay abreast of the latest trends—technology in particular—to continue to thrive.
A group of independent hotel owners and operators shared tips and best practices across several trend categories at the recent 2015 Hotel Data Conference in Nashville:
On distribution market share

Focus on stealing share: “The vast majority of people who book on online travel agencies will also come to your site,” said Sam Trotter, director of development and portfolio e-commerce manager for Boutique Hospitality Management. “You have an opportunity 80% of the time to steal their booking from the OTA, and it should be a daily focus for your principals to do that.”

Trotter said a typical independent property might convert 3% of site visits to direct bookings, and that hoteliers should see the rest as missed opportunity. “It’s all in your hands,” he said.
Stay visible: “The more channels your hotel is visible on, the more beneficial it is to you,” said Michael Tall, president and COO of Charlestowne Hotels. “As independents, we’re more nimble and can put our content in more places.”
He said that right now, Charlestowne Hotels uses a group of about five different platforms. It’s a dynamic mix, he said, because the company is always looking for the best ones and trying different combinations.
Take a page from Google and Amazon’s books: “Google and Amazon are not small companies,” said Sean Mullen, president of acquisitions for Noble House Hotels & Resorts. “One of the big reasons OTAs can steal business is because it’s easy for them. They have all my information on file; I don’t have to worry about entering my credit card every time.”
He advised independent hoteliers to dig into the pros and cons of their booking engines and test just how easy it is for customers to make a booking. “The most important consumer commodity is time,” he said.
On e-commerce best practices
Spend money on photography: Trotter said great photography is “one of the best things you can spend your money on.” While it might be difficult to justify professional photography to ownership, he called good photography “the absolute, No. 1 best ROI you can get.” That’s because it’s not just content independent hoteliers can use on their own sites, but it’s also content that will show up on all other booking platforms. “You want to put your best face forward everywhere,” he said.
Mullen said Noble House has seen success in posting high-quality detail shots as well, because those up-close photos of meeting and catering space are important to big spenders who book meetings and events. “Sometimes you only see the big hero, exterior shot of a hotel, but don’t neglect meetings and catering,” he said. “Brides especially love to see those.”
Video is a lot simpler than you might think: Mullen said his company has put a lot of recent time and energy into videos. “The costs have come down drastically, and now you can stream it much quicker, whereas before, getting into video could be really painful,” he said.
Make sure your site is responsive: “Consumers are looking at your site through their phones and they don’t want hangups,” cautioned Gautam Lulla, president of Travel Tripper. “Make sure your site is mobile-responsive. The volume of bookings going through phones is climbing very fast. Guests want the same depth of info on their phone as they would find on their desktop.”
Consider third-party validation: Mullen said that in the world of independent hotels, endorsements from recognized brands in the form of awards can go a long way. “Guests are trying to figure out your ‘brand’ as an independent, so use third-party awards to validate your position in the market,” he said. “Typically we see the page where we list our awards as the third or fourth most-visited page on our site.”
Think hard about apps
App costs may be down, but will customers download it? “We have to give the customer a really, really strong reason to use an app for your hotel,” Mullen said. His company tested the app market and found that app success for single independent hotels might not be worth it.
Lulla agreed. “If you’re an independent, the chances of someone wanting to download your app are small,” he said.
Think about spending elsewhere: Trotter said frankly that apps for independent hotels are not worth the investment. “I would rather spend to have a mobile-friendly strategy than spend on an app,” he said.
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Africa’s richest man is pushing to dominate its market for cement, the material at the heart of the continent’s infrastructure boom, Bloomberg reports.

All that stands in his way is the world’s biggest cement maker, a flood of low-priced imports, the threat of slowing growth in contracts for dams, ports and roads and a slump in the most-traded emerging-market currencies to a record low.

It’s not stopping Aliko Dangote. “Africa’s future growth is intrinsically linked to cement,” Dangote, 58, told assembled dignitaries, including Zambian President Edgar Lungu, earlier this month as he opened a new factory on the outskirts of Ndola, Zambia’s third-largest city. The material is “the most basic input into building infrastructure.”

The plant will help bring Dangote Cement Plc’s total production capacity to 43 million tons by the end of this year, within striking distance of the African capacity of market leader LafargeHolcim Ltd. — which runs its own Zambia factory about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the plant Dangote was opening.

Dangote Cement, which has expanded capacity five-fold in the last four years, plans to about double potential output, to 80 million tons, Dangote says. The Ndola plant is one of five new factories he’s opening this year across sub-Saharan Africa, including two in the LafargeHolcim strongholds of Cameroon and Zambia.

New Factories
Africa has become one of the world’s fastest-growing regions for the building material as rapid urbanization and spending on transport, power and shipping boost demand. Significant projects under construction include Ethiopia’s $4 billion hydro-power dam on the Blue Nile River and a $13 billion railway that will link the Kenyan port of Mombasa to the Rwandan capital of Kigali via Uganda.

With 50 million tons a year of cement capacity, LafargeHolcim is the largest producer in continental Africa.

Domestic producers also must compete with cheap imports from countries including Pakistan, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Sonia Baldeira.

“Dangote is rapidly expanding its footprint across sub-Saharan Africa,” said Pabina Yinkere, head of research at Lagos-based Vetiva Capital Management Ltd.

“Many of the cement plants within the region are old and aging. Their efficiency has fallen, so with its new plants it will be able to compete strongly.”

Falling Prices
The additional production from Dangote’s new factories is already having an effect on local cement markets. In Senegal, the company says it provides more than 30 percent of all cement sold in the country, where it opened its first plant in January.

In Zambia, cement prices have fallen about 20 percent, a result of Dangote’s push against LafargeHolcim, according to Sipho Phiri, who chairs a company planning to build a $180 million hydro power project in the west of the country.

The project will need about 20,000 metric tons of the material so the price drop makes a significant reduction to his capital investment, he said by phone. And none of it will come from Lafarge Zambia Plc.
“They were taking advantage of their monopoly,” said Phiri. “People including myself, as a matter of principle, will only buy Dangote cement. I’m emotional about it.”

Lafarge Zambia chief executive Emmanuel Rigaux rejected Phiri’s claims that the company had taken advantage of its position.

Zambia Potential
“We’ve been growing with Zambia,” he said. “We were the first really big construction company to go ahead with a very large investment. We were the first to see the potential that Zambia had.”

Lafarge Zambia is doubling capacity at its Lusaka plant in a 200 million-euro project as it seeks to capitalize on growing demand in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the north. Increased competition and lower prices won’t change its plans, he said.

Lafarge, which last month completed a merger with Switzerland’s Holcim Ltd. to form the world’s biggest cement maker, said in February last year it planned to increase sub-Saharan Africa capacity to more than 30 million tons by 2017 from 20 million tons. The combined company had about 50 million tons of capacity on continental Africa at the end of last year.

“Africa is a fast-growing region with huge construction needs supported by demographic trends and growing urbanization,” LafargeHolcim said in an e-mailed response to questions. The company “is well positioned to serve the continent’s construction needs from its existing strong supply network in cement with facilities in 15 countries” in Africa.

China Effect
The speed and scale of new investments in Africa’s natural resource-based economies may falter as commodity prices fall and growth slows in China, the biggest consumer of materials from copper to iron ore. A gauge tracking 20 of the most-traded emerging-market currencies depreciated 0.7 percent on Monday to a record low, making it harder for those countries to pay for imported materials.

The market slump hasn’t changed Dangote Cement’s expansion plans, Carl Franklin, the company’s head of investor relations, said by e-mail late Monday.

“We don’t think that short term,” he said. “Africa will be building for decades.”

Threatening Margins
In countries including Tanzania, cheap imports, including from China, are weighing on prices and threatening margins for local producers. South Africa in May imposed anti-dumping duties on the material coming from Pakistan. The issue continues to challenge producers on the continent, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Baldeira said from London.

Even so, the two biggest cement producers in Africa aren’t the only ones expanding. Johannesburg-based PPC Ltd. is building new plants in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, and has started production in Rwanda. HeidelbergCement AG of Germany added 2.9 million tons of capacity in Africa last year, its biggest growth region.

The company’s pending takeover of Italcementi SpA may double its market share in the Middle East and Africa, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence, and HeidelbergCement predicts that cement demand will expand 50 percent by 2020 in the sub-Saharan region.

“Capacity is not enough to meet demand in these countries,” Baldeira said. “When we think about the future of the world demand for cement in the next 10 years, Africa will be a big driver.”

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