Diego Lofeudo, Expedia Marketing Management Director for the Eastern Mediterranean and Africa, commenting on 30 South African hotels having closed their doors since the beginning of this year, said: “South Africans tend to compete with the hotel next door rather than competing with another destination, for example Cape Town competing against Sydney”. He added that overcapitalisation of rooms by South African hoteliers has led to over-pricing. He advised against ‘flash sales’, as it ’simply degrades the market‘. In his opinion, the domestic market should become the focus of local hoteliers, and the country’s tourism product has to compare itself globally, and then set prices accordingly.
Lofeudo also encouraged hoteliers to stop relying on travel agents and tour operators, and to become their own sales managers, taking control of their stock, and managing the online content of their property. This includes checking what is being said about them on social media platforms.
Expedia has 2000 hotels on its books, and is setting up a co.za site in the next year and a half. Once low-cost carriers service Africa, the continent should see an explosion of business, given political stability and safety. The booking site offers hoteliers more profit in selling empty rooms than selling them through other distribution channels, it claims.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage