Q&A: Survival of the Fittest


What does the Rezidor Group stand for?

The Rezidor Hotel Group’s portfolio consists of almost 400 hotels and closely approaching 90,000 rooms. The group subscribes to the “Yes I Can!” service culture, which is embodied by each staff member through thorough training. The culture embodies the vision and philosophy of our hotels – being the cornerstone of the hotels’ commitment to building one-to-one relationships with their guests. “Yes I Can!” symbolises a positive attitude, a personal approach, competence, and empowerment of each single employee. The ‘H.E.A.R.T’ of our hotels underlines the approach that it all comes from attitude and from the heart – being the abbreviation for Host, Engaged, Always, Responsibility and Teamwork. “Yes I Can!” is the true spirit of our hospitality and a service ethic that permeates every single element of our daily business – how we interact with guests, hotel owners and staff members, and how we aim to achieve the highest quality and excellence.

You’ve been with the Rezidor Group for 20 years and have held managerial positions mostly in Europe. Your thoughts on your move to South Africa?

My knowledge and skills were required to grow the portfolio of hotels in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia, which are branded under the Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson colours, and increase the brand recognition of Rezidor Hotel Group and that of Radisson Blu and Park Inn. I am very happy to be living and working on the African continent, in a country and city that I’ve always had the deepest love for.

Rezidor has just opened a hotel in Nigeria. What other expansion plans do you have for Africa?

The Rezidor Hotel Group currently operates hotels in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Lagos, Nigeria. We have an impressive pipeline of hotels, which shows how serious we are about growing our African portfolio. The hotels that will be opening soon are in the following locations: South Africa – Polokwane, Kruger Park and Cape Town; Ethiopia – Addis Ababa; Ghana – Accra; Mozambique – Maputo and Tete; Sierra Leone – Freetown; Zambia – Lusaka; Nigeria – Abeokuta, Abuja, Apapa and Ikeja, Lagos; Kenya – Nairobi. There are 40 hotels currently being discussed and negotiated in sub-Saharan Africa.

In terms of inbound tourism, how does the cost of flights, for instance, affect your business and is South Africa still a value-for-money destination for European tourists?

There is a huge concession towards rates, and airlines are not doing the same. International flights are still relatively expensive, making South Africa a less attractive destination. With regards to Europe, the Rand is, unfortunately, not performing too well. Having said that, experiencing winter here for the first time, I can see that South Africa has a lot more to offer Europeans. South Africa is a great option for those wanting to escape their warm summer and find a quiet and cooler destination, especially the older generation.  

Do you think that South Africa, in particular the major cities like Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, is overtraded in terms of upper-market hotel rooms?

There is a tremendous oversupply in Cape Town and Johannesburg. There is room for only a handful of five-star hotels, as the South African market is geared more towards three and four-star hotels.

How do you see the upper-market hotels progressing in the long term in South Africa and Africa?

As the market is saturated, I think that there will only be a handful of upper market hotels that make a success of themselves.