Africa’s economic growth presents many opportunities for hotel operators and Africa is receiving more and more attention from international hotel chains.
Numerous hotel chains have announced ambitious expansion plans for the coming years and every month new developments and projects are published. In 2013, more than 270 hotel projects were announced in Africa, good for over 40,000 new rooms. 2014 only sees this trend continuing with more investments and new projects.
Noppen`s Africa Hotel Expansion Summit gathered Developers, Investors, Regulators, Construction Companies, Architects, Solution Providers, Financial Institutes and Associations in a focused two-day program designed to enhance business. Panel discussions and presentations elaborated on future strategies, operations efficiency and updated technologies required for guaranteeing customer satisfaction and success.
While there were a number of outstanding speakers at the event, the Chairman of the summit, Mr. Trevor WARD, Managing Director from W Hospitality Group particularly stood out. Not only was he a brilliant Chairman, ensuring that the summit ran smoothly, but his long experience in this industry makes him a well-respected figure and the delegates listened intently to his comments and evaluation. His extensive knowledge and management skills shaped up the event from the very beginning until the end.
After his opening remarks, Mr. Ward also kicked off the first day of the summit by giving a very detailed overview of the hotel chain development pipelines in Africa, breaking down the ranking according to hotel chains, brands and countries. Out of this breakdown, it became clear that Ghana is in the top ten African countries with most hotel developments over the past years. This led way for the 2nd presentation of the day, presented by Mr. Sampson DONKOH, Acting Executive Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority. Mr. Donkoh started off by showing all the assets Ghana has to offer tourists, going from nature beauty to cultural celebrations. He then went on stipulating the different areas Ghana needs investment in, including the hospitality sector. Many questions were asked regarding
the new airport project and what this will mean for tourism and hospitality development.
After this speech, the floor was handed over to Mr. Neil GEORGE, Senior Vice President Acquisitions & Development Africa and Middle East from Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Mr. George moderated the discussion panel on management agreements and contracts. This panel saw different opinions coming from hotel operators – Mr. Bruce POTTER, General Manager at the Holiday Inn Accra and Mr. Andrew MCLACHLAN, Vice President Business Development Africa & Indian Ocean Islands at The Rezidor Group – and hotel owners – Mr. Stuart COOK, Managing Director & Co-Owner of Protea Hotels Uganda and also Mr. Philippe BARETAUD, Senior Vice President Development at
Accor who spoke from both operator as owner side, given the fact that Accor also owns hotels in Africa. The panel was also strengthened by consultant Mr. Wayne TROUGHTON, CEO of HTI Consulting and lawyer Mr. Charles ANTWI, Director at Laryea Laryea and Company who both spoke on behalf of the hotel owners.
After the first tea break, the focus was shifted again to investment. We first heard the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre where Mr. Kofi ANTIRI, Director Research & Investment Development, spoke on behalf of his CEO about the projects and plans Ghana has to attract more investors to the hospitality sector. His presentation was followed by a session from Jamie BEARD, Partner at the NY based Claremont Group, a real estate developer looking to build large scale residential and hotels in Accra. Mr. Beard explained clearly how the work, what are their plans in Ghana and showed examples of what they are currently realizing already in Kurdistan. The investment session was closed by a panel, led by Mr. Wayne TROUGHTON, CEO of HTI Consulting. During this panel, Mr. Uzoma NWANKWO, CEO & Managing Director of AiQ Capital Management, Mr. Vernon Page, CEO of Hotel Partners Africa and Dr. Ayowa Afrifa-Taylor, Managing Director at Soroma Real Estate Group shared insights regarding the investment situation in the hospitality sector in Africa and more specific in Ghana and Nigeria and how to ensure a successful cooperation between all shareholders involved.
Right before lunch-break, Mr. Abdo Achkar, General Manager Corporate New Sales Center of our gold sponsor Mitsulift showed the attending delegates some more information about their products and services and gave some examples of the hotels where there elevators and escalators are already in use.
The afternoon of the first day was divided in two main subjects. We started off with Ms. Lorraine Jenks, Founder of Hotelstuff/Greenstuff who gave a very passionate speech about the importance of being green and ecological in the tourism and hospitality sector. She showed us examples of how hotels can help save the planet by using only responsible products. Her speech was followed by a presentation from silver sponsor Ecolab. Mr. Lindsey STYLES and Ms. Madeleine MARAIS, Corporate Account Managers at Ecolab gave an overview of the different products they have for the hospitality sector and also put great emphasis on the ecological use of their products. Last green session was presented by Mr. Patrick FARES, CEO of Royal Airport Hotels. He gave more insights into how he turned his hotels into a through success by using innovative, African, self-made equipment and products. The other main topic for the afternoon session was about branding. First, Mr. Bani HADDAD, Regional Vice President Middle East & Africa at Wyndham Hotels gave a clear definition of what is branding and what isn't and how the end user is taken into account when deciding upon the brands. The comments he made were deeper explored in the last panel of the day. In this panel, moderated by Mr. Amaechi NDILI, Chairman Golden Tulip West Africa, Mr. Haddad together with Mr. Lasse RISTOLAINEN, Development Director Subsaharan Africa at Hilton Worldwide and Ms. Zahra PEERA, Senior Vice President Subsaharan Africa at Accor brainstormed further about branding strategies, new consumer trends such as e-bookings, the importance of local travelers, etc.
After this, Mr. Trevor WARD closed the first day of the panel by giving some remarks of what was discussed during the day and inviting everybody to the 2nd day of the summit.
The second day started with the presentation of Ms. Melanie RICHARDS, Senior Project Planner at WATG. Ms. Richards showed the delegates about the importance of master planning and preparation. She showed how to integrate international experience with local knowledge and gave some clear examples of where it went wrong and how success can be achieved.
After Ms. Richards session, the delegates learnt about the benefits of pools in hotels. Mr. Ricardo BERSI, Area Sales Manager of presentation sponsor A&T Europe S.p.A; Myrtha Pools Division showed throughout his presentation how you can best achieve ROI by investing in quality pools.
This presentation was continued with a panel about the planning and design of hotel projects. During this panel, moderator Mr. Larry ASARE, Architect at Larry Asare & Associates and panelists Ms. Alejandra DE CORDOBA ESTEPA, Associate Architect at G1 Architecture, Mr. Pierre BARRELET, Director of Development & Strategy at Bouygues Bâtiment International and Mr. Odunayo OJO, Development Director at Laurus Development Partners shared ideas about challenges when designing and constructing hotels and the importance of good project management.
After the networking session, Mr. Paul Ansah closed off the architecture sessions by sharing his knowledge about mixed use developments, how they are already happening in Africa as well and why they bring value to all parties involved.
Focus was then shifted to having the right products and services in your hotel. First, Mr. Ramesh BUDHARUP, Channel Manager HPN, Africa from silver sponsor Hewlett Packard Middle East introduced the attendees to the networking services of HP. His presentation was followed by a session from platinum sponsor Electrolux. The session started with a presentation from Mr. Marco GUERRETTI, Vice President Sales for Africa, Middle East, India & Latin-America who introduced the different products Electrolux has to offer. He also focused on the environmental aspect and continued in a closed door workshop with the green side of their products.
After lunch, focus was brought to customer service and quality standards in hotels. Mr. Amaechi NDILI, Chairman of Golden Tulip West Africa gave a very vibrant introduction to customer service in African hotels and how gradually more and more attention is given to optimizing this customer experience. Also important for many hotel guests, is the presence of a spa center in the hotel. Because spa’s are so important for many hotels, Mr. Roger Allen, Managing Director from Thermarium Spa & Leisure Management gave a very informative and detailed presentation about the importance of having well trained spa managers in place who know how to increase ROI and make the spa’s profitable financially speaking. This session was followed by a last networking tea break.
Mr. Tawiah A ADJEI then took over and stressed the importance of quality certifications. He also explained how hotels can get these certifications and also looked at why sometimes these certifications aren't enough and fail. The summit came to a close during a last panel where Mr. Stuart Cook, Managing Director & Co-Owner of Protea Hotels Uganda, Mr. Zibrim Yamusah, General Manager at the Best Western Premier Accra Airport Hotel and Ms. Nana Konadu Boateng, Sales & Marketing Manager of Alisa Hotel together with moderator Mr. Bruce Potter, General Manager at the Holiday Inn Accra shared some final thoughts about the future and how to ensure success
Before Ms. Lorraine JENKS, chairperson of Friday closed the conference, there was a lucky draw, sponsored by the Rezidor Hotel Group. Winners of a 3 night stay for 2 at the Radisson Blu and the Park Inn by Radisson were Ms. Rosemary ORTHNER of Orthner Orthner & Associates and Angela KUDJODJI of Ramada Resort. We also want to extend our gratitude to all delegates for their active participation. Their questions spoke to the heart of the main issues facing the hospitality industry and their eagerness to build the industry is commendable.
Noppen would like to express a special thanks to the sponsors of the Africa Hotel Expansion Summit: Electrolux, Mitsulift, Ecolab, Kohler, HP&Mitsumi, Somfy, BH, Knauf, LG, Guardian, Tylo, Daikin, Sanipex Group, A&T Europe, Thermarium and Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group as well as our Association Partner, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and our Supporter, Hotelstuff/Greenstuff for their contributions to the event. We have no doubt that your contribution helped in making this event a success.