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‘African market offers us opportunities to reengineer our hospitality business model’

‘African market offers us opportunities to reengineer our hospitality business model’

With 59 hotels in operation in Africa, offering 11,821 rooms, and 36 hotels in the pipeline, with additional 6,874 rooms, the continent remains a key market for the Radisson Hotel Group.

Wellington Mpofu, who was recently promoted to the role of Regional Director of Sales, Africa at Radisson Hotel Group, has a responsibility to sustain and further the feats with his sales team.

In this interview, Mpofu, a former executive manager, commercial and ex-director of sales & marketing at the Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, Lagos, Victoria Island, tells Obinna Emelike the reasons for the interest in the African market, the group’s steady growth and efforts to sustain that, his sales strategy, innovations, views on the Nigerian market, among others, Excerpt.

Congratulations on your new role. What does it entail?

My role entails driving business into our hotels in the region to reinforce our market leader position as a brand of choice for travellers across the continent and beyond. The job role is about developing a clear strategic focus and alignment for the teams to execute, ensuring the sales process is fully optimised by leveraging on the brand and the associated tools to create a competitive edge.

How has the journey been?

It has been exhilarating, each day brings with it new opportunities to analyse various situations from different regions and apply best practices to enhance growth. The industry has become more dynamic than before and the client decision making process has vastly changed owing to the growth of artificial intelligence, the role therefore requires that one is always ahead of this demand curve and find efficient ways of reaching the potential client.

In recent times Radisson Hotel Group has been pushing its African workforce to executive positions never occupied by them before. Why the development?

There is a wealth of talent in Africa, and this is evident with the high level of investment on the continent by forward-thinking hospitality brands like ours. To this end, it makes sense to harness the available skills on the continent to drive this trajectory. We are a proudly inclusive company, and our people are our biggest asset. We are therefore focused on personalised career development to ensure each team member grows and together we grow as one organisation. It is therefore a dynamic approach for us to ensure professional growth for every team member irrespective of one’s background or origin.

What innovations are you bringing to the table to further grow the Group’s portfolio in Africa?

Our group portfolio in Africa is expansive. So, key for me, is to develop and maintain strategic relationships that will adeptly localise our global solutions across our operating countries in Africa. This localisation is to respect the distinct identities of each country and ensure the efficacy in driving value for more growth within the markets. In addition is to ensure that we retain a pool of the best talents across our brands. In leveraging technology and innovation across the various RHG brands on the continent, we have seen positive impact and undoubtedly, the goal is to embrace more of these innovations, which are consistently ongoing for us. For example, we recently launched the Radisson Meetings Dream Machine, a customised generative AI tool to revolutionise the world of meetings and events and enable our events partners to go beyond the conventional boundaries to unlock the future of creating memorable meetings and dream event spaces. An outlook for us is to further harness our visionary digital innovations in driving for more personalised services across our brands.

What are the challenges you envisage in achieving these goals?

What we see ahead are opportunities, which allow us to constantly reengineer our business model to fit both local and international communities aptly. We have a clear vision and the professional prowess to achieve our goals.

You have worked in many brands, especially RHG across the continent, which hotel or country has been the best for you in terms of sales?

I would say each country has its attribute that contributes to the uniqueness of the brand, I however found Nigeria to be extremely versatile owing to its market base evolution. It was interesting to see how the country was able to rebound after the pandemic and return to near normalcy levels within a short time span.

Do you think the continent is doing well in terms of business for RHG?

The African continent remains key for us as it is a rapidly expanding economic zone with a strong market base and one full of memorable attractions for business and leisure travellers. In meeting up with the growing demand, we currently have 59 hotels in operation with 11,821 rooms, 36 hotels are in the pipeline to open in the future with 6,874 rooms. The continent has one of the best properties in the portfolio and there is a heightened appetite to acquire more properties on the continent.

Of course, RHG has shown keen interest in the African market, why the interest?

As a growing market, Africa is a big and positive attraction for our sector of business. Our interests show clarity in our vision by maintaining the fastest growth rate across the continent with tangible hotel signings and openings. We remain dedicated to reinforcing our market leader stance in key cities and countries, on the continent.

Why is the Group among the fastest growing brands in Africa?

It is the result of many factors including that, we are a forward-thinking organisation with desirable products. Our portfolio is diverse, and this helps us adapt easily to current demands of the market. Entrenched in our service culture and embodied by all team members, is our philosophy of building long and lasting relationships in all our business interactions and engagements. This is because our relationships are based on trust, and we embrace the diversity of the local communities within which we operate.

You have worked in Lagos before, how do you see the Nigerian hospitality industry?

The hospitality industry is vibrantly exciting and holds significant economic importance to the country, yet the sector is quite eccentric. Being one of the biggest economies on the continent, there is still a lot of potential for the sector to grow. Currently, the industry contributes only about 4% (US$20 billion) to the GDP of the country but given the vast natural tourism assets that the country has, more growth is needed.