Mmegi Online :: Cresta plots to muscle out competition
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Friday 17 August 2018, 13:30 pm.
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Cresta plots to muscle out competition

Cresta Marakanelo, the country's largest hotelier, plans to combine an aggressive customer retention scheme, a focus on service excellence and market intelligence to keep ahead of the field in the increasingly competitive sector.
By STAFF WRITER (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Cresta plots to muscle out competition








In recent years, new entrants in the vibrant hospitality sector have threatened to dislodge the group's eight hotels from their traditional dominance. Cresta's four Gaborone and Francistown-based operations in particular have felt the heat from both multi-star and non-deluxe competitors. The new strategy comes as the group wraps up the multi-million Pula revamping of its operations countrywide, rolling out new branding and upgrading fittings and facilities.

Cresta Marakanelo managing director, Tawanda Makaya said the customer retention strategy and enhancement of service excellence would go hand in hand with the group's attempt to maintain its market share. "We will focus on service excellence to defend ourselves from other players," Makaya told analysts recently. "This includes hygiene audits and mystery guests as well as customer loyalty programmes. We have also said we will not compromise minimum basic standards in our facilities such as gyms, Wi-fi, CCTV security, LCDs and others.

"We will also continue aggressive marketing to drive the Cresta brand in the market." The "mystery guest" comprises a detailed assessment of a customer's experience from their viewpoint, starting from welcome to departure. Cresta also plans to conduct dipstick surveys, or opinion questionnaires, to gauge customer experience and improve personalised service.

Makaya revealed that the 25-year-old hotel group would be keeping an ear to the ground for all developments in the hospitality sector in order to keep a step ahead of other players. "There's a new hotel in the Gaborone CBD and many others, but we are ready for the competition," he said. "The

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market intelligence will help us know our market and also enable us to deliver service excellence. As competition increases in a small market, we end up sharing the cake and you need a strong retention strategy for that."

Beside the customer retention strategy, Cresta plans to increase its reach into the corporate market and shift away from a reliance on government and quasi-government bodies for revenue. The shift in focus stems from harsh lessons learnt last year when a protracted civil service strike slashed occupancies and also reduced Cresta's food and beverage business.

"We learnt that relying on one sector was a problem as we could get very little during the period," Makaya told Business Week on the sidelines of the analyst briefing. "Now we want to balance the equation. We have started signing agreements of trade with some corporates and we are seeking contracts with them. We are also increasing our activities in terms of marketing ourselves to them. "While we cannot run away from government, we do not want to put all our eggs in one basket."The hotel group also plans to loosen its purse strings this year, in the hunt to add more properties to its portfolio. In February, Cresta Marakanelo finalised a US$2.5 million (P18.5 million) acquisition of the 78-roomed Golf View Hotel in Lusaka, Zambia. Although the group's executives said acquisition negotiations are ongoing with other targets, some of them in Zambia, they declined to elaborate saying to do so would jeopardise talks.

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