Fahrenheit Hospitality is set up as a ‘hospitality solutions company’ that focuses on hospitality project management, providing solutions, services and training for the hospitality industry. It currently manages three properties – the Tudor House hotel which opened recently, Morning Side Suites and Maison Tribeca. Operations Director Jorge Erazo joined Business Traveller Africa magazine for a chat about the African hospitality industry, and the way forward.
Q: What are your thoughts on the current state of the African hospitality industry?
A: The current view of the African hospitality industry shows positive signs with tremendous growth opportunities. Multi-national hotel brands are rapidly flourishing across the continent, as are highly competitive indigenous brands such as ours.
Q: What are your biggest challenges?
A: Infrastructure issues in underdeveloped destinations. Qualified and experienced hotel builders are absent or extremely difficult to find. Quality furniture, fittings and equipment are almost impossible to find locally and have to be imported. We are privileged to be in a partnership with a premier Nigerian design company – Svengali – which has been a major player in the success of our brand image, in all aspects of design, from interior to exterior.
Q: How do you overcome the challenge of poor infrastructure?
A: We share the same challenges as our competitors, with the competitive advantage that we know our own territory better than most of them. Our experience, our skilled team of professionals in the industry, and our business relations in the African economy, enable us to manage the infrastructure business issues in the hospitality industry.
Q: What does the modern business traveller look for in a hotel?
A: The new generation of business traveller looks for a convenient location, related to his or her particular business purpose. A modern product is also very important, with the technology that allows reliable connectivity with functional work-friendly accommodations.
Q: How competitive is the Nigerian hospitality market?
A: Highly competitive! Nigeria is the second largest economy in Africa and one of the largest in the hospitality industry, along with South Africa, Egypt and Morocco. This is the result of Nigeria having major multi-national and local hotel brands, such as Hilton, Sheraton, Le Meridien, InterContinental, Sun International, Radisson Blu, Marriott (2014), Ibis, Golden Tulip, Novatel, Protea, Mantis Collection and Eko Hotels, to name but a few. Healthy competition is increasing significantly for the benefit of the industry in general.
Q: What’s your response and how do you counter the increased competition?
A: By becoming the best value lodging offer for the business traveller who is looking for a less corporate feel, but more of a local flavoured and exclusive atmosphere, with the elegant amenities of a boutique hotel. Our product is the perfect match for the individual in search for a ‘home’ feeling during business trips. Our staff strive to provide guests with the type of personalised service that sets us apart from our competitors.
Q: What sort of clientele are you seeing through the doors?
A: The majority of our clientele is corporate, as well as some leisure travellers. Most of them are internationally exposed and understand the concept of a luxury boutique hotel, with the services and professionalism that go with it. So, typically, they are not justlooking for a bed for the night, but rather the whole experience associated with luxury, where everything functions in service to them.
Q: What loyalty packages do you offer your regular customers?
A: The FHL loyalty programme is currently under development and targeted to be up and running this year.
Q: What are your views on areas that need to be strengthened or developed in the African hospitality industry?
A: Conflict resolution in certain destinations; skilled local human capital/training and development; revenue management; increased government support; a grading system for hotels according to international standards.
Q: What does the future hold for the African hospitality industry?
A: It is a new Africa and the development of hotels is in line with the rising standards globally. Many players in the multi-national and local hospitality industry are turning their attention to investment, as growth in Africa continues to rise, as it slows down in traditionally developed markets.
Q: What does the future hold for Fahrenheit Hospitality?
A: Our future expansion is confident and aggressive. Our near future developments are only months away, with the opening of two new properties in Lagos.
Q: What should be the big 2013 themes for the African hospitality industry?
A: Overcoming the unfair and misjudged image of the continent, with regards crime and corruption. In my opinion, there are destinations with just as bad, if not worse statistics, such as areas I have lived in, including the US, UK, Brazil, Mexico, and parts of Europe.