Industry News

Domestic Tourism to Stabilise, a Bumpy International Ride and a Bullish Outlook for BON Hotels

Domestic tourism in South- and Southern Africa looks set to stabilise in 2023 to pre-2019 levels.

Domestic tourism in South- and Southern Africa looks set to stabilise in 2023 to pre-2019 levels after pent-up demand helped the sector recover and grow. This led to trends such as backyard travelling, “workcations”, and longer stays. The increasing cost of living will see affordable accommodation and destinations in small towns becoming more sought-after for local travel, while hotel occupancy and room rates are expected to continue increasing.

Following the demise of several domestic airlines and the spike in the cost of flights, this year should see an increase in capacity with more airlines coming online and a welcome stabilisation of prices. This is according to the CEO of BON Hotels, Guy Stehlik, who has shared some of his predictions for the year.

International tourism to South Africa remains below pre-2019 levels and inconsistent in nature, he points out, predominantly affected by political and economic uncertainties, airline capacity issues, industry staff shortages, and the high price of jet fuel, among others. “On a positive note, our favourable exchange rate remains a drawcard, and forward bookings from the international market have increased significantly,” Stehlik says. “South Africa remains a top destination in Africa for luxury travel, and in fact, what we are seeing, is an increased demand for luxury accommodation and for private experience-based trips.

“The outlook for international economic activity is nevertheless worrying with a worldwide recession looming. Indications are that the USA will be leading this recession, closely followed by China. This will impact international travel and move into the South African market as well.” Stehlik says

Moving on to what 2023 holds for BON Hotels, Stehlik is upbeat. As a hospitality management company, BON Hotels has become known for the innovative sales and marketing approach that it offers to the hotels, lodges and resorts in their portfolio to reposition them and align them to the BON Hotels brand. The company also takes full operational and financial management of hotels to offer owners peace of mind that their establishment is run according to the highest international standards.

“In 2023, we are positioning BON Hotels for growth, and an exciting development to underpin this strategy is a new team to strengthen our sales and marketing efforts and ensure higher occupancy rates,” says Stehlik.

“Gareth Venner, the former head of sales for Marriott, is an industry legend who has joined us, bringing with him valuable relationships built up over time. I am excited about the impact that he has already made and will still make this year,” Stehlik says.

“Greg Spark is our new operations director. He’s known for his high energy levels and attention to detail, and as a people person, he’s ideal for working with our owners. Together with Gareth, leadership is going to play a key role in our growth and profitability this year.”

Two other former Marriott appointees include Jacques Coetsee on the e-Commerce side, where he will be heading up the BON Hotels’ loyalty programme, BONami, and Lexi Ramoroka, a strategic marketing and sales specialist, who is already lending her expertise to the marketing department.

BON Hotels is also known for its ethos of maximising a direct relationship with their guests. Stehlik says in 2023, there will be an even greater emphasis on these engagements to improve business coming directly into their hotels. “This direct relationship is, however, difficult to ensure these days, especially with the marketing and financial muscle behind online travel agencies,” he admits.

The company has invested heavily in a new website that launches on 1 February 2023 that offers a much improved, user-friendly experience with easier navigation and content that speaks to the modern traveller. Large enticing images to inspire and a look and feel that highlights the world-class quality and service offered by the BON Hotels Group. There is also the option for website visitors to buy hotel vouchers as gifts and join the BONami loyalty programme online. Membership offers immediate rewards, including discounted rates, complimentary accommodation vouchers, dining discounts and more.

“While the industry may still be grappling with some challenges on both the domestic and international front, at BON Hotels, we are bullish and looking forward to a stellar 2023, built on the strong foundation of our brand and propelled forward by our outstanding team,” concludes Stehlik.

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