By Guy Stehlik, CEO of BON Hotels
“As hoteliers, we would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t think that we needed to give our customers a better value for their experience than ever before. Good value cannot be seen as expensive but rather the worth of what you pay for. It should never matter how wealthy our guests are – their perception of what they believe to be good value for money is what is important!”
Tourists, domestic travellers and more and more corporate travellers will travel to a destination if it meets their needs in relation to; the quality of the experience, their safety and security, the price of a holiday in the destination, and ease of access both to and inside the destination country or region.
As a collective industry here in Southern Africa, we have achieved many successes in relation to the above travel imperatives, but South Africa has a worsening and endemic worldwide “PR-problem” which can only be improved by taking the steps necessary to give South Africa a reputation as a “safer” destination. This has to receive far more focus and political will initially from government and the private sector, and we need to see all elements of the chain doing their best to counter the criminality besetting our tourist industry. This includes, for example, more visible policing, a more effective justice system that will result in criminal convictions quickly and meaningfully, and stronger actions against xenophobia.
Many of our Southern African hospitality players should also consider the long-term damage created by price-gouging and the associated downward discounting spiral, which is incredibly hard and in some cases impossible, to recover from once normal trade resumes. Just because a traveller may have access to Pounds or Euros, it doesn’t mean that dual pricing or higher pricing should be charged: one of the big attractions for foreign visitors to South Africa is the very high value-for-money perception that’s possible when they can benefit from the exchange rate. We see this more and more in Cape Town where certain players exploit this and then the cause-effect reputation of Cape Town being labelled in worldwide travel circles as being an expensive destination.
“When COVID-19 hit last year, it certainly changed my personal perceptions and importance of value for money and today we see consumers worldwide voting with their feet in this regard.”
“From personal experience, I’ve booked my family and I into what seemed as the best 5-star hotels one would like to experience, both local and international – but nine times out of ten was left feeling ripped off or somewhat ‘robbed’ of my money’s worth. As society, we’ve created a perception of people who stay in lavish hotels as wealthy and place both the hotel and guests on a pedestal that is now unattainable to most of the world’s population following the devastating impact of the Coronavirus. Even the worldwide ubiquitous star-grading system is becoming more and more outdated – if you want to know how many stars a hotel is rated at – don’t ask the hotel – ask TripAdvisor who will tell you categorically how many stars it is. The power of word of mouth is tremendous!”
Consumer behaviour worldwide in the hotel space has never been this savvy where we now see potential guests considering even more varied factors which impact their value for money and spending habit approaches. These factors include: optimized shopping and booking experiences, seamless interactions between hotel and booking channel, customisation, personalisation, experiential service and sustainability.
With the likes of booking.com and social media at our fingertips, consumers are better educated and have more knowledge at their disposal to find the best deals out there and thus enjoy far more value for money than ever before!