Terrorism is an unfortunate “fact of life” that has plagued society throughout the whole of the last two millennia. In recent years an increasing number of attacks, across a wider part of the world, have led to a changing dynamic in relation to the impact of such attacks.

In this research paper David Harper, Head of Property Services for Hotel Partners Africa, provides some unique research on the impact of such terror attacks, with the help of hotel trading statistics and analysis, carried out by STR.

The impact of terrorism on the hotel and resort market in Africa has been substantial over the last few years, making the need for careful analysis of the phenomena essential.

The research bears out the following 13, important conclusions, with some significant implications for how countries and the Travel & Tourism industry deal with terror attacks:

1.    The impact of terror attacks across the world is lessening

2.    There has been a marked rise in terror attacks in recent years

3.    The average casualty count has declined in recent years

4.    In general, international tourism is resilient to terrorism

5.    Recovery times for all types of locations are improving

6.    Recovery time depends on the profile and scale of the market place

7.    The impact of terrorism varies by political regime, income and tourism intensity

8.    The long-term impact depends on the public perception of safety and on the trust placed in the authorities in that location

9.    Political unrest has a longer-term impact than a terrorist attack

10. Frequency of attacks has a greater effect than the severity of an attack

11. The coverage in the media has an important impact on trading

12. The impact of an attack tends to be region-wide, so there is a financial imperative on neighbouring countries to try and stop any attacks being made on their neighbours

13. On average you are five times as likely to die by falling out of bed than you are to die as a result of a terrorist attack

For further information or for a copy of the full research paper, please contact David Harper at David.Harper@HotelPartnersAfrica.com

Trevor Ward
Mobile: +234 803 321 0646
trevor.ward@w-hospitalitygroup.com

It was such a pleasure to stay in the new Fraser Suites hotel in Abuja recently.It had been a long time coming,and before opening was the only internationally-branded hotel under construction in central Abuja. It is now the first such property to open in Abuja for eight years – whilst the pipeline of new hotels is quite large, still none of them has broken ground.

The Fraser Suites in Abuja has 126 rooms and apartments, ranging from studios to four-room apartments, all with kitchenettes or full-on luxury kitchens, which many of us would love to have at home. And that’s one of the pillars of the extended-stay concept, that guests who are staying for a long time (several weeks and more) will treat these apartment as their own, enjoying the flexibility, privacy, routine and comfort of home. Says one of the Hilton executives in charge of extended- stay brands: “the guest who has a longer stay has different needs and those needs drive behaviour: a focus on the stay experience and the living space; a desire to maintain their normal routine; and a need to feel nurtured and taken care of while away from home and loved ones.”

Many hotels claim (and surely many are tongue-in-cheek!) to be ‘home away from home’, but when you’re stuck in a bedroom with a chair and a bed, sometimes with a kettle and poor quality instant coffee to keep you company, that certainly ain’t nothing like my home! The living space experience is of great importance… I want a sofa to sit on, please, not just a chair, and enough room to spread my stuff around without having to extend to piles of paper on the bed.

Back to the Fraser Suites in Abuja. Not only a squeaky clean new hotel, but one that has been finished to a very high standard, much higher than many new hotels in Nigeria. Despite the fact that the owners are new to the industry, they understand that quality matters, and have delivered a very high quality product. Consequently, they are able to command a premium price for their rooms and apartments,and the product has been welcomed by the market, with various foreign embassies and international customers already signed up to stay there.

I love extended-stay hotels, both as a guest and as a commentator on the industry. As a guest, I like the extra space and privacy, particularly the separation between living and sleeping (no more sitting on the bed to view the TV properly). Have I ever stayed in one for a long time? Nope! That’s not my travel behaviour. I’m usually a one or two-night man, but extended-stay hotels are just as attractive to me as they are to the guy staying for weeks or months. Whilst the operator of an extended-stay hotel would love to fill the whole inventory with long-stay guests, it rarely happens, so transients like me are also welcome, when rooms are available. According to Hilton, only a third of guests staying in their Homewood Suites hotels are long-stay, the rest are transient.

An aside about terminology. In Europe, brands tend to call their properties serviced apartments(Fraser Suites call themselves that), whilst others use the expression ‘aparthotels’. Extended- stay is a US term, which I favour, because I find that serviced apartments are often merely apartment blocks with a reception, maybe a pool and occasional housekeeping services. Brands like Fraser Suites are definitely not that, they are further along the scale to being a proper hotel. Now here’s an interesting fact– in a survey of American users of extended-stay accommodation, only 7% of business travellers, and 9.7% of leisure travellers, want a fully-fitted kitchen when on an extended trip away from home. Let’s face it, how many business travellers are likely to whip up a meal for themselves? What guests really want is a complimentary breakfast and free wi-fi – tops for almost 75% of business travellers and almost 70% of leisure travellers (Fraser Suites Abuja provides both). Who else is in this space? In our 2017 data we have 12 extended-stay hotels in the chains’ development pipelines, out of a total of 417 properties. Marriott leads with six properties, Residence Inn and Element; Frasers Hospitality has another Fraser Suites planned in Brazzaville; and there’s a Hyatt House, an Arjaan by Rotana, Accor’s Adagio and the Executive Residency by Best Western in Nairobi (now open)…not just the first of the brand in Africa but one of the first globally.

For investors, extended-stay makes a lot of sense – occupancies tend to be higher than in full- service hotels, operating expenses lower, and therefore profits are increased. So why aren’t there more extended-stay hotels in the pipeline in Africa? Partly I think it ’s because investors here are unfamiliar with the concept, and cannot envisage owning a hotel without multiple restaurants,bars, banquet halls and the like. And partly because some chains haven’t been pushing their extended-stay hotels on the continent, preferring to lead with their core brands first, and then fill in the gaps later.Well, that’s a maybe, but as far as I can determine, Fraser Suites in Abuja has taken the top spot in West Africa, at least for now.

Trevor Ward MD: W Hospitality Group

www.w-hospitalitygroup.com

 

Should you ever find yourself in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State in Nigeria, I can recommend a Chinese restaurant there which is well worth not going to. Should you have a craving for Chinese food (like I did), don’t go to the Sweet Tomatoes restaurant on Azikoro Road – go instead to a supermarket, buy a bottle of soy sauce, and take it to either the Creek Motel or the Mona Lisa Hotel, where you can enjoy the buffet.  Sprinkle the soy sauce on your food and hey presto!  It’s Chinese!

The wonderfully-named Sweet Tomatoes used to be the Royal Chinese Restaurant, run by Chinese people, who have left, the name was changed, and everything went to pot.  We expected as much when, after taking our order, the guy gets on the phone and we hear “you’ve got to get back here, we’ve got customers”.

Twice the staff confirmed that everything on the menu was available, but of course when I ordered the prawns, they had none.  So I ordered the fish, which looked suspiciously like shredded beef when it arrived.  The waiter was unable to confirm what it was, after all, he’s only the guy that carries the food from the counter to the table.

Did I tell you about the décor?  There wasn’t any, it was a black hole as far as ambience was concerned.

The manager (no, sorry, that’s far too official-sounding, let’s call him…….oh, I don’t know, the guy that……well, the guy that didn’t know what was available, didn’t listen when we ordered, and didn’t offer any drinks….what’s the word?  Nope, it’s gone).  So, this guy in a green tee shirt told me I had ordered the shredded beef.  To a chorus of “no he didn’t” from my ever-supportive companion, I asked green-tee-shirt-man which bit of the order “stir-fried fish with ginger and spring onions” sounded like “shredded beef”.  Take this away, I commanded, and bring me what I ordered.  Green-tee-shirt-man gets on the phone, and then comes up with the startling news that they had no fish.

When I asked for the bill he brought back the shredded beef, now stone cold.  Well “bill starts with a “B”, and beef starts with a “B”……

The beer was warm, the glass was cracked, – oh, what’s the point?  Just don’t go there, OK?  And don’t forget my TTT (Trevor’s Travellers’ Tip) about the soy sauce.

Happy Travels!  Trevor

I’m staying at the Hotel Presidente, the old one at the north end of the Marginal. Great views of the bay (which is fast disappearing, as they sand-fill – catch it while you can). Apart from the strange shade of green paint that they have used (at some time in the past, a painter stood back, looked at his work, and said “My, that looks good”. What kind of sick person IS that?), the physical hotel isn’t too bad, old and tired, but aren’t we all? But my tip for staying here is to avoid contact with the staff AT ALL TIMES. OK, grin and bear it at check in, insist that your name IS what you wrote on the registration slip (twice) and what it says in your passport, regardless of what the receptionist wants your name to be, and you might get the room you reserved. After that, DON’T have anything to do with any of them – the objective of them all is to p*ss off the guests at every point of contact. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

The internet service in the bar is good – just ask at the bar for the code, you don’t need to buy anything, and you don’t have to be staying in the hotel either – but you may need to bluff that out – room numbers start on the 9th floor, 901 to 914, 1001 to 1014 – got that?

Happy Travels!

Trevor

I just came into Luanda again (did someone say “masochist”?) and the left hand lane went the fastest, as it was feeding into three desks.  Yes, I know, it’s a bit sad to get excited about things like this, but it keeps me going).

If you’re travelling with other people, elect the biggest one of you to get the arrivals forms, and the rest of you go and queue. Your large colleague can take all the vaccination certificates to wave one at a time, or just use one, result should be the same.

Fill in the form best you can – avoid filling in “masochism” as the reason for entry to Angola, just in case the immigration official knows the word, and has a sense of humour failure. The consequences don’t bear thinking about.

Baggage seems to arrive recently efficiently, but I can’t speak for experience. Me? Check in luggage? Don’t be silly.

After customs, and before you leave the building, there’s a Unitel mobile phone shop on the right – they’ll stiff you on the price and on the exchange rate, but who cares, if like me your UK line (O2) doesn’t roam in Angola* (except in the far north, when you can often roam onto a DR Congo network!), then with a local SIM card you’re back in the wired world. There’s a bank there for buying local currency, too (although most places in town accept dollars). No particular hassle from touts and other ne’er-do-wells when you exit, but I have always been met, so no tips about taxis, sorry.

(BREAKING NEWS February 2009 – O2 now roams in Luanda, ).

Just arrived Luanda. Hasn’t changed (yeah, well, see below, this was 2008, it’s a bit different in 2010) – total chaos in the arrivals hall viagra naturel net. If you can, dress as an American football player when arriving here – you might get less bruised. You’ll get the idea when you see the entrance – as small as a house door, so that’s the first scrummage – actually getting into the building (your shoulder pads might get in the way, but you’ll be thankful for them in a minute).

Inside, head for the crowd of people waving yellow bits of paper, put your head down, and push into it. There’s a guy in the middle, a health official, who seems completely oblivious to the noise and commotion around him or her, who stamps the arrival forms, and gives them out to the hands in front of him. He’s a saint, he’s being pushed from behind by half of China, more hands waving papers at him than he, or anyone else for that matter, could shake a stick at, and he just keeps on stamping those forms. We could all learn a lesson from him – if you could ever get near enough.

You see, here in Angola, that’s how they do it. You need a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate to enter the country. In South Africa, the immigration officer checks it alongside your passport. Here, they have a health official – ONE health official, for the entire arrivals hall, picture it, two or more long-haul flights arriving at the same time – show him your certificate (actually, anyone’s will do, see below), you get the arrivals form, which you then give to the immigration officer. Guess it creates employment.

But there’s only ONE of them – when you consider that half of China is entering Angola at the same time, pretty noisy and not that good at queuing, you’ll begin to realise that American football gear is not fancy dress, it’s practical gear. Surely there must be someone else in Angola who would like to try their hand at being a health official?

Tips for tackling this scrum? Use the elbows God gave you (NOW do you understand why they’re sharp?), put your head down, shove your certificate forward, and don’t give an inch. Watch out for the short people trying to get in below you.

You forgot your Yellow Fever certificate? 3 options:

Join the immigration queue and fill in the form whilst queuing – you’ve normally got plenty of time. It’s up to you whether you adopt the English or the African method of queuing. The queue on the right tends to move faster, but if you’re on the left, they might open the “Nationals only” lane to foreigners. However, watch out for half of China moving en-masse to that queue – they’re surprisingly fast!

I flew from Lagos to Malabo, the island capital of Equatorial Guinea, last week.

Malabo airport is a distinct improvement from the muddy concrete hut I remember from six years ago. All the same, it’s the first airport I have arrived at where the immigration officer gives you the finger. We’re off the plane, and I’m first in the queue for passport control. The guy at the desk waves a sheaf of blank arrival forms at me, and tells me to go and wait at the red line for someone to hand them out. May I have one of those?  No, go and wait. So I get the form, I fill it in, I go back to the desk, I hand him my passport, he fusses with it.

And then gives me the finger.

How jolly rude, I think. Que? (I say, in my best Spanish).  The finger again.  One what? I enquire politely, this time in English.  The finger for the third time, this time with a gesture to the little hole in the wall.  Aha, fingerprint time, both hands, and a photo.  Very wise, you never know what rascals are trying to get into your country these days. Five minutes later, he’s finished with me. I look pityingly at the queue behind me, and silently wish them a pleasant night queuing for the immigration man  to get through them all. Then there’s customs, or maybe security, who search you thoroughly (I long for the somewhat laxer methods applied in Lagos, where a languid moving of a shirt or two, whilst staring over your shoulder, seems to suffice).  Watch for the boy in the pink shirt who now latches on to you, asks if you have yellow fever (he means a vaccination certificate), which you then show to the two ladies guarding the exit door.  Malabo arrivals is a funnel system, so I am now at the narrowest part, at customs/medical check, at the exit door (a single door), with the other half of China (see arriving in Luanda for the whereabouts of the first half) trying to squeeze through, and several million Africans trying to get in.  Just push.

The next morning, I flew from Malabo to Bata, the country’s second city, located on the mainland.  And blow me, but what happens at the domestic arrivals in Bata?  The finger again, both of them, the photo, police searching my bag, very thoroughly, and customs too. Yes, customs, on a domestic flight.  That was a surprise, I tell you. I told the customs guy I had already been searched a couple of yards back (there was a screen in between, so I thought maybe he didn’t know, and I could save him a job?), but he says he’s customs, they were police. And then proceeds to search my bag with a spiteful, “I’ll get you” demeanour. Not for the first time, I wish I had kept my mouth shut, truly a passive indifference works much better.

Leaving Bata for Malabo wasn’t so bad, customs only searched the Chinese travellers, but fingers and photos? – I’m used to them now. Right hand, left hand, glasses off for the camera……Then they call you to board the bus for the aircraft, and outside the door they’re searching your bags again, doing the security scan with the wand. These guys are scared of something!

Travellers’ Tips – well, try to be first in line, unless you have hours to spare.  Keep your mouth shut unless absolutely necessary.  If asked, claim to be Welsh – a certain Mr Mann has given the English a bad name in this country (Google “Mann Equatorial Guinea” if you need to know more – but don’t print it and put it in your luggage). And just go with the flow, stay cool, even when they give you the finger.

In Malabo – the best hotel in town is the Sofitel, next to the Presidential Palace. I’ve not stayed there, but it looks nice.  The waterfront restaurant at the Hotel Bahia is pleasant, with English speaking waiters. In Bata – the Hotel Plaza is good enough, the Oriental Restaurant on the seafront has great Lebanese mezze, and there’s a great beachside restaurant outside of town, beyond the airport, run by a French lady. A lovely place for a lazy lunch.  I hear it is the place to go at weekends, with safe swimming, and there are a few chalets to stay in too.

Leaving Malabo – the finger again, of course.  Apart from that, nothing much to report – oh, except that you will need to show your Yellow Fever certificate again on the way out of the country. Don’t ask.  And don’t expect any duty free – I couldn’t see any! There’s a business lounge upstairs, no-one asked me whether I was in business class or not, so may be worth the chance, for a comfy chair. Except that I spent the whole time there worrying whether they would remember to call me for my flight. Maybe not worth THAT risk.

Happy Travels!

Trevor

Real life, huh? Can you believe it? You watch the TV sitcoms, and think “how silly, it could never happen”. Read on.

The safe in my hotel bedroom won’t open. Inside is stuff I need, passport, air ticket, money, spare toothbrush, a used train ticket, yesterday’s socks and a boiled sweet, the things you just don’t want to be without. It’s 11pm, and I’m leaving for the airport in the morning, so we need to sort this tonight. Easy job normally, seen it done, you need a clever little gadget.

Phone call to reception, and within a few minutes there’s a knock on the door, a man with a smart briefcase, out of which, I am happy to see, he takes a clever little gadget for opening electronic safes. Great, this won’t take long.

He plugs it in, and taps away for a few minutes (actually quite a lot of tapping, I thought you just typed in “open sesame”, and Bob’s your uncle, or doesn’t that work anymore? Abracadabra?), but nothing happens. He changes the battery in the front panel of the safe (which comes off if you know how, it’s attached by a wire to the innards), but nothing happens. He taps away again, nothing. Safe still closed. He makes a phone call and tells me “Our IT man is on his way, but he has left the hotel, and will be here in an hour”. Jeez, another hour? Well, it has to be done, make sure you knock hard when he arrives, I may be asleep.

Sometime later, the promised hard knock arrives, I was asleep, in bed, Mr IT enters the room. There are two of them, Mr Briefcase is with him. In my room. Mr IT (I was tempted to call him Mr Bugs, due to a rather unfortunate dental challenge, but that would be unfair, we’ll stick with his official title) tries again with the clever gadget, and nothing happens. He fiddles with the wires, but that doesn’t work. So he decides to go to the next room and get a replacement panel from the safe there.

This, dear reader, is where it all goes pear-shaped.

He and Mr Briefcase exit my room, and put the double lock on so it won’t close. I am still in bed, remember, and wasn’t ready to get out and hold doors for them. I should have. They come back with the replacement panel, fit it to my safe, fiddle around, and my safe is open. Hurrah. I say many thanks, well done, good night. “Sorry for the inconvenience sir, please don’t close your safe again, just to be sure”. OK, I won’t. I close my eyes. It’s midnight.

Mr IT and Mr Briefcase exit my room, but forget the double lock is on, so of course the door doesn’t close. They both re-enter my room, get the double lock off with difficulty, close the door to make sure it is now OK – and cannot open the door again. The sitcom begins.

Mr IT and Mr Briefcase are locked in my room, with yours truly.

Mr IT fiddles and fiddles (sorry to keep repeating that word, but there was a lot of it going on that night) but, no, the door doesn’t open. He tries to get the handle off, but needs a screwdriver (that wasn’t my assessment, it was his, he said it), none in sight (memo to self – in future, pack a clever little gadget to open electronic safes, and a screwdriver). Next thing I know, he goes out onto my balcony, and launches himself off! I’m on the second floor! But all is well, he returns 5 minutes later with a screwdriver. Fiddle, fiddle (sorry), nothing happens. The door lock is now in pieces, but the door remains closed. I’m still in bed, opening my eyes now and again. Couldn’t see much point in joining in, I’ll stay in the audience. After all, it is them that need to get out, I can wait until morning, and in any case there is still the balcony exit route, recently used to great effect by Mr IT.

I open my eyes, and lo and behold, there are now three of them, all huddling at my door, looking as if they are playing hide and seek, with someone else, now audible in the corridor, trying to find them (“come out, come out, wherever you are”). The third is dressed as Mr Maintenance Man, so that’s what we will call him (Mr MM for short). Where did he come from? He must have vaulted up from the ground floor to my second floor balcony, and in whilst I had my eyes closed (the presence of a ladder cannot, of course, be discounted, but “vaulted” sounds so much better than “climbed”)

There are now, as anyone conversant with the art and science of arithmetic will confirm, three people (not including me) in my room – Mr MM, newly arrived, Mr Briefcase, who has, on and off, been with me now for 2 hours, and Mr IT. I remain in the audience, taking photographs of the assembled team.

Fiddle, fiddle (sorry) by Mr MM, and the door opens, the door lock still in pieces. Mr MM2 (Mr MM’s twin, perhaps, they were dressed the same?) enters, and Mr Briefcase departs (it’s possible that there is a house rule that only three staff members are allowed to fiddle around in a guest’s room at any one time).

It is not over.

Mr MM, Mr MM2 and Mr IT are now together, bent over my door lock, trying to get the door to close, and to open again. It is not to be. It is 1am. They suggest I should change rooms. At 1am.

I arise (you haven’t, I trust, forgotten that I am abed), and cry “Enough. It is 1am, gentlemen, the door is now open, you have done well, now go, allow me to sleep, I will leave the door open, but with the chain on. Do not close the door when you leave”.

They left.

So that, dear reader, is why there were three people in my room that night. Perfectly simple, when you stop and think about it.

And my Tips? If your safe won’t open, don’t leave it to the last minute to get them to open it, you never know how many people you will need. And to avoid forgetting to empty the safe when you leave the hotel (it happens!), put one of the shoes you’re planning to wear when you leave in front of the safe door. I’ve never done it, I can never remember, but it sounds like a good plan to me. Anyone got a good tip for how to remember to use this tip??!

Is Lagos the hottest hotel development market in Africa?  Look at the fundamentals: a city of some 15 million inhabitants, projected to be one of the world’s 10 “mega cities” by 2025; the commercial centre of the continent’s second-largest economy; the main aviation and shipping hub for West Africa, with a compound increase of 10 per cent in international arrivals in the last 10 years; and with occupancies in the city’s hotels running at 85+ per cent year round.

Demand for Lagos’ hotels is generated by three main sectors – telecommunications, banking, and, of course, oil and gas.  The latter is the driver of Nigeria’s economy, with oil output of 2.5 million barrels per day (mbpd) due to double by 2010, and major expansion in gas production.

Yet no major new hotel has opened in Lagos since the Sheraton in 1985.  So demand outstrips supply, leading to high rates for rooms, and high profits for owners.  The leading hotels are charging US$300 to US$400 per night for a standard room, and despite some high operating costs, particularly energy and maintenance, that translates into high profits.  Large hotels in Lagos can produce operating profits of 55 per cent and more, compared with European hotels averaging in the order of 35 to 40 per cent.

There are several new hotels under construction, but many are delayed from their originally-projected opening date.  Why?  Most often due to a lack of funding.  Whilst in most markets hotel developers secure the total funding before starting work, it seems to be the norm that only part of the funding is secured, and developers underestimate the time it takes to raise the balance, leading to (expensive) delays in completion, most often measured in years.  Other expensive mistakes include not bringing the hotel operator on board from the outset, and very often the operator requires changes to the existing structure in order to meet brand standards.

What’s the solution?  Clearly, it makes better sense to raise 100 per cent of the finance prior to starting work on site, or at least before starting the superstructure.  And it is never too early to bring the operator on board, to save expensive alterations later on, and even to save money through better design and procurement.

Lagos is, indeed, the hottest market in sub-Saharan Africa, and there are multiple opportunities for new investors to enter the market, from boutique hotels, catering to the discerning executive traveller, to large internationally-branded operations for the corporate and conferencing market.  Problems in the Niger Delta are forcing many companies to relocate their operations to Lagos, resulting in higher demand for hotel accommodation at all levels.  Proper planning of a project, avoiding the mistakes of others, could well mean that your new hotel will open before some of those currently under construction!

International Hotel Supply in Lagos
Hotel Bedrooms Room Rate

(Standard Room US$)

Affiliation
Sheraton Ikeja 332 477 Starwood
Sofitel Moorhouse 92 360 Accor
Eko Hotel and Suites 584 345 None - unbranded
Protea Victoria Island 58 314 Protea
Protea Kuramo Hotel 60 254 Protea
Protea Oakwood Park 62 308 Protea
Protea Maryland 50 296 Protea
TOTAL 1,238    
New Hotels Under Construction
Hotel Location Bedrooms Estimated

Completion Date

Novotel Festac Town 400 2007
Sheraton Federal Palace Victoria Island 140 2008
Golden Tulip Apapa 75 2008
Radisson SAS Victoria Island 170 2008
Four Points by Sheraton Victoria Island 220 2008
Crowne Plaza Ikeja (Airport) 220 2008
Southern Sun Ikoyi 250 2009
Protea Maryland 90 2009
Meridien Ikoyi 370 2010
InterContinental Victoria Island 360 2010
TOTAL   2.295  

Trevor Ward

W Hospitality Group, Lagos

trevor.ward@w-hospitalitygroup.com

Affiliated to

Plot 10, Ayo Babatunde Crescent, off Oniru Market Road, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, Nigeria
+234 (01) 295 6236
info@w-hospitalitygroup.com

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