This Hotel Chain is ‘Keeping it Local’ with the Help of SME Suppliers

Updated on 5 February 2018

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Avukile Mabombo, group marketing manager, Protea Hotels by Marriot.

February is Funding & Enterprise Supplier Development (ESD) Month  on SME South Africa.

Offering the corporate perspective on ESD is Avukile Mabombo, Group Marketing Manager, Protea Hotels by Marriot. Find why he says supporting local SMEs is part of their business model. 

A hotel’s supply chain involves food and beverage supplies, linen, transport and a long list of suppliers for various items.

Recently, a shift to sourcing products from hyper-local suppliers has seen even national companies use local small businesses in addition to large producers; for example, craft beers and spirits are finding their way on to drinks menus, meeting the demands and expectations adventurous visitors have.

Exposing visitors to more local products and experiences

Visitors and guests in hotels want to have authentic travel experiences that take place right where they are, so offering food and drinks that surprise and delight them ensures that you’re delivering great customer experiences. They don’t have to leave the property to explore new tastes, and you’re offering more than expected.

An example is the current popularity of gin as a beverage: South Africa currently has over 50 of its own distilleries producing innovative craft gin varieties. This is in direct response to growing consumer demands and increased innovation on the part of producers.

In addition to the well-known brands consumers love and expect to see, we believe in supporting local SMEs as part of our business model, so it’s a win-win situation to engage with local businesses and offer more to our customers. For SMEs, we know that their ability to access the market is important, so we have an opportunity to make this work for all. That’s why we have targeted gin, in this instance, sourcing craft products to offer at our Fire & Ice! properties.

“Craft beers and spirits are finding their way on to drinks menus, meeting the demands and expectations adventurous visitors have”

Reaching SMEs via Large Enterprise

According to the National Development Plan, by 2030, 90 percent of all new jobs will be in SMEs, although SME owners find it difficult to compete for business with large enterprise, and may resort to appealing to niche markets with limited growth opportunities.

Hotels are central to the success of the tourism sector, as they cater for the large business travel market as well as leisure travellers, both international and local – as the “base camp” for guests to explore destinations, they are an integral part of the communities in which they’re situated, often offering a public entertainment space to locals rather than facilities reserved for guests only.

A large hotel catering for hundreds of meals per day relies on the availability of local produce to ensure consistency, this, in turn, guarantees business to local suppliers. We should be looking to our local entrepreneurs and business owners to form the backbone of our supply chain; in this way we are contributing not only to the larger tourism economy, but to the social economy of all who work in our hotels and those whose businesses ensure our success. It’s about family, ultimately, and the families of those alongside whom we work.

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