Clinton Thom, General Manager of the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, thanks locals for their support over the last year and shares the changes that the property has made to accommodate them.

It’s been over a year now since Covid-19 changed all of our lives. A number of industries have been hard hit, and unfortunately, the tourism industry has taken a beating. Our survival has come down to how we businesses have managed to adapt and change, but most importantly, it has been because of the people of South Africa. To each and every person who has been part of this journey, whether by supporting the industry, or simply by doing their part to beat Covid-19, we say thank you.

As a five-star hotel based in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, we were naturally concerned when borders closed, travel stopped and we essentially had to shut down operations. Even when the country opened up, we knew that it would be a while before international guests flocked to our shores again. We needed to rely solely on the South African market and although we have always had a good mix of international and domestic, we also understood that locals have not traditionally looked to us as a holiday destination. Here are a few things we did.

We spent some time adjusting our offers

We realised that the South African travelers coming to our hotel don’t necessarily want the tourist day trips to Cape Point or the winelands. And due to safety, they also did not want to be confined in a car with a driver for a full day. Over the last year we found that a top priority for many has been quality time with family, as well as family experiences. So, aside from our family travel packages on offer, we felt that it was important to be able to give families memorable moments and time together, while they enjoy a break with us. We added activities such as cycling, treatments to enjoy at Amani Spa, plus our concierge is also available with a list of local hidden gems within walking distance or a quick drive

South African content in our hotel

With more South Africans staying at the hotel, we found a higher demand for South African content in the rooms. So, we added local channels like Mzansi and KykNet to our DSTV offerings and we continued to offer our amazing breakfasts with a South African twist. The breakfast menu has Maltabella, for example, which many locals grew up enjoying, plus poached eggs with biltong dust and so much more.

Prices for everyday South Africans

Of course, the biggest thing for South Africans is the price point. With budgets stretched as a result of COVID-19 and people losing their jobs, salaries being cut, and more, South Africans simply don’t have as much money to spend on holidays as before. Last year Cape Town Tourism conducted a survey to ascertain the consumer impact of the lockdown and COVID-19. The results showed that many respondents were struggling with the financial knock-on effect of the lockdown with only 24% of respondents noting that they had disposable income while only 5% considered spending that income on leisure travel. This was something we looked at very closely and is why we implemented specific local leisure rates. Aside from offering affordable rates for local stay-cations, we also cater to the local market who can’t afford an overnight but prefer a day-cation of sorts. These day-cations give them time out and about in the city without spending on accommodation. The result of this was the creation of a number of food and beverage specials such as happy hour, a seafood special, spa experiences, a curry and wine pairing and more.

We have placed a lot of emphasis on appealing to the local leisure market this past year. A hard lesson for the industry as a whole has been that we need to find a way to survive and keep our heads above water until travellers from around the world come back once again. We are confident that the vaccinations rolling out in many of our key markets will boost visitor confidence to travel and while we look forward to hosting international guests once again, we cannot thank our South African guests enough for their support this past year.

Our team has noted that it has been a pleasure to host so many South Africans this past year as it has resulted in such a diverse crowd, a sense of comradery around the pool, and tons of (safe) fun, like only South African’s can have. There has been a true sense of community and family at our hotels. From our side, we will continue to strive to offer a great product to our local market and do our utmost to thank them by giving them memorable moments when staying with us. Thank you, South Africa.

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