GET TO KNOW: Inge Dykman, Head: Leisure, Tourism and Trade, Wesgro
- What do you believe has been the key change in the hospitality sector over the past five years?
There are various trends and shifts in the hospitality sector that has impacted on how the sector operates and functions. It is a growing audience, speaking to new customers that want to do business or holidays differently. Millennials have changed the scope for the hospitality industry, sharing their experiences on digital and social platforms, influencing other visitors.
The actual process of doing business has to be fast and easy.
We have to work much closer with our growing and diverse audiences to ensure that how we offer our services remain relevant and ensure inclusion of our smaller businesses that attracts the younger and more influential consumer.
Experiences and trips have to speak a larger growing audience. Tours and experiences have to be immersive and be authentic. Other factors that play a role are responsible tourism and ensuring that the experience on offer supports and benefits the local community in a positive way.
Technology and how we book our trips have changed. Apps and online booking platforms are key in influencing decisions. This has provided our consumers with options and choice, based on their budgets, time and interests. Set packages and planners still appeal to a certain consumer, but technology has allowed a wider group of consumers and visitors to travel.
New competitors and different types of services in the sector have severely impacted the industry. Airbnb and similar providers alike will continue to disrupt the industry, which will influence the way the hospitality evolves. It is already evident in the way that larger hotel chains have adapted their services to continue to be part of the change.
Real time sharing on social media has impacted on how we promote our offers and destinations. People want to experience what other people are sharing on their platforms. This further allows destinations to rethink their messaging and really delve into their strategies to showcase their authentic and unique offers.
2. Where do you see the three key challenges in the industry over the next five years?
A growing global audience – how do we ensure that we appeal to a growing diverse audience and ensure that we offer the best product tailored to their needs? In addition to this, can we manage a huge increase in capacity – are all our systems in place to manage an increase of visitors?
Remaining authentic and relevant – how does a destination avoid having a ‘one size fits all approach’ despite wanting to attract more visitors? Do we always have to attract big numbers to all attractions, or do we ‘package’ our routes and offers smartly?
Impact on resource – people and places. Technology is doing a lot of the systematic and promotional work that replaces people, impacting on people’s salaries and income. How do we work with technology to the benefit of the people, developing skills and adapting to global practises. Is there a need for technology for every offer? That is a question that we need to answer.
How do we use technology to preserve certain sites and to curate content?
3. You are a panelist at this year’s Hospitality Leadership Forum, what are you most looking forward to discussing?
I look forward to addressing and discussing relevant topics and gaining new insights from other sessions and speakers.
I still learn and grow every day, even after almost twenty years industry and look forward to implementing new learnings to ensure growth into our industry.
4. The hospitality sector is undergoing huge change. What are the three tips you would give for success in the coming five years.
Continue to invest in your staff and structures. Do not compensate or cut down on your expenses by not investing in your staff – grow their skill sets, invest in your business to ensure that you stand out.
Do not become stagnant with your product offer or service. Stay abreast of trends, do research and engage with your customers – stay in touch and remain involved in the business. Your unique selling points and improving the services that you offer will ensure that you remain relevant.
Work with the local industry and partners – share the resources and support. Review your business plan and strategy continuously to ensure that you are on track. Don’t try everything at once, focus on delivering exceptional service and an exceptional product. Look at innovative ways of promotion through collaboration especially when you are a small or young business.
5. And are there any specific areas in the (sub-Saharan) African hospitality market that you believe are unique?
The lifestyle that we offer is exceptional – we offer experiences that no other continent can offer in a natural environment.
Our collective history and natural resources are appealing to a broad audience – how we package and promote it is what is necessary to benefit and educate our local people and our potential customers.
The people of (sub-Saharan) Africa – are warm, friendly and hospitable. Despite our challenges, historical and present – we still warm the hearts and enrich our visitor’s lives by the way we host visitors to our continent. It is our culture, our food and the magnificent overall experience that make people want to come back and tell our story.
6. Which type of people do you believe would gain the most from attending your session this year?
People who will benefit will be new and existing players in the industry. People who are looking for that specific ‘sweet spot’ in starting or growing their business, but not certain of what their offer exactly is. People who are keen to make a positive impact in their local community and who are in the business for the long run. Collaborative and partnership opportunities are key for the growth and sustainability for the hospitality sector, we can promote islands, but we cannot operate as such.