The lockdown hit the hospitality industry hard. Tourist numbers dropped by 71% from 2019 to 2020. Hotels and guesthouses had to pivot from an international to a domestic market

Alex Olivier, GM of Emily Moon boutique hotel in Plettenberg Bay

Alex Olivier, GM of Emily Moon boutique hotel in Plettenberg Bay says. “Up to 95% of our pre-pandemic bookings were overseas travelers. Overnight, those tourists dried up. “We have done what we can to remain profitable,” he says, including shutting the hotel on Mondays and Tuesdays to reduce expenses and using social media to market the hotel to honeymooning couples.

Other hoteliers agree that survival requires drastic changes. Marius Vosloo, owner of the Nicol Hotel in Johannesburg, prior to the lockdown, up to 70% of his guests were overseas tourists needing to overnight near OR Tambo International Airport. He used technology and RoomRaccoon to boost demand based on room-sell probability and reduced his rate by 20% a night. He says RoomRaccoon enabled the hotel to offer direct booking systems, discounts, and specials to clients via email, helping build better guest relationships.

Olivier believes technology has helped their hotel stay in business: “I could be hiking up in the mountains and field a call from a guest. In minutes, I can tell them which rooms are available when and make a booking. Accessible data at my fingertips has changed the way I work.”

Both Vosloo and Olivier expect numbers to pick up over Christmas and into 2022, thanks to South Africa’s removal from the UK’s Red List of unsafe countries.