Hilton among top hoteliers seeing prospects in Africa
A number of top hotels are looking to expand into Africa where an increase in trade with other nations and an emergent middle class is fueling demand.
Hilton Worldwide, Marriot International and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide have all turned their attention to the continent, which is now seeing the highest level of hotel development in the world.
Growth in the European and US markets has slowed significantly and investors and operators in the sector are capitalising on a rise in travel and subsequent demand for accommodation among a middle class larger than the entire population of Russia.
American hotelier Marriott has plans to increase the number of hotel rooms it owns in Africa by 55 percent.
Starwood is finding the revenue available per room in Africa higher than any other world region.
Hilton appears to have the biggest plans for the continent with the highest number of rooms planned with more than 6,000 at 23 hotels.
Rudi Jagersbacher, Hilton’s Africa and the Middle East President, has hinted that Hilton plans to one day have a hotel in every major city in Africa.
Chinese business travellers make up a significant amount of the footfall as rising exports of oil and minerals from such countries as Nigeria and Angola increase international demand for lodging.
Tourists arriving in South Africa rose by 10 percent to a record 9.19 million in 2012, driven partly by this increase in visitors from Asia.
There has also been a rise in the number of leisure travellers from abroad to East and Southern Africa, boosting demand for hotel rooms.
Income from tourism in Rwanda, for example, could reach $440 million next year, from a projected $317 million this year.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.