Lonrho Column

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Your Friend in Africa

It’s a pleasure to be part of the travel industry. After all, it’s our task to ensure people have a good time and enjoy whatever it is they wish to do, whether visiting friends and family, taking time to have a holiday, enriching themselves by attending a conference, or travelling to do business. As hoteliers, we have traditionally been and will continue to be the world’s ‘hosts’.

The hotel industry has many stories of hoteliers going well beyond the norms of hotel-keeping to ensure their guests have a wonderful time. I know of an example, where a bride was lent a wedding dress by a receptionist, after the dress went missing! Then there’s the example of how hotels near horrific events like London’s 2005 terrorist attacks, instantly become refuge centres, or when hoteliers appear to achieve the impossible, such as providing a guest with essential medicines. 

It is this ability to understand, and we hope sometimes anticipate, the guest’s needs and the necessary skills to fulfil those needs, that as a hotel company and generally as an industry we must play our part in nurturing. I had the pleasure of recently sharing a panel with Hon Akua Sena Dansua, Ghana’s Minister of Tourism, who appeared surprised to hear me argue for greater involvement by the travel industry in the training, coaching and nurturing of the skills and attitudes that form the bases of the travel and tourism industry, and allow us to successfully fulfil the role of the ‘host’.

Formal education has a role to play. After all, it’s critical that the hotel industry attracts bright, articulate, passionate, warm and friendly people. It is my experience that if we as an industry choose to sustain a truly enriching and learning environment, then we can enable people to join our hotels, travel agencies, airlines and car hire teams, and ultimately establish successful careers.      

Travel safely. I look forward to meeting you in Departures sometime soon.

Ewan Cameron, CEO: Lonrho Hotels

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