Interview: Simon Stamper

What are some of the key factors that boost hospitality growth in emerging markets?

SIMON STAMPER: There are significant growth opportunities in the hospitality industry, and one of the key factors in helping stoke growth is having a consistent strategy that delivers returns. Branded hotels continue to appeal to guests because they’re more familiar and as a result they are more confident of the experience they’ll receive. Favourable external factors in emerging markets, including a rise in disposable incomes, an increasing middle class and an ageing population, lower cost air transport and increasing international travel, are supporting the growth of the industry.

Moreover, we find that travellers are now looking for more unique and novel experiences that are not as commercialised. In most cases, emerging markets offer fascinating experiences within intricate cultures and untouched natural beauty, which is more appealing to those seeking adventure or novelty.

What are the factors that make Algeria attractive for major operators in the hospitality industry?

STAMPER: Investors are always on the lookout for opportunities that make good business sense. The right brand must go to the right location, according to demand. Being one of the largest countries in Africa, Algeria’s sizeable population, coupled with its proximity to Europe and airline connectivity to other countries, makes it an attractive destination for tourists and thus hotels. The branded hotel market is currently the fastest growing in the industry, and I’m confident this trend will continue. With the current low penetration of branded hotels and an undersupply of hotel rooms, we believe there is a gap in the hotel market in Algiers for a quality branded product. Given Algeria is a new market for IHG, opening its first branded hotel, the Holiday Inn Algiers-Cheraga Tower, in the capital city of Algiers was a strategic decision. The hotel is expected to cater to both business and leisure travellers.

How are hospitality and hotel management providers in Algeria meeting the biggest challenges facing the industry?

STAMPER: One of the biggest challenges the industry faces is the speed of construction and the development of the building itself. Algeria’s hospitality industry is predominantly business travel, and the leisure market is still very much in its infancy. This in fact, can also be seen as an opportunity to build on the tourism and hospitality industry in the country.

Algerians have a very developed sense of hospitality, meaning people in the country are very welcoming and receptive to tourists, especially in the rural areas, however, there is a general lack of understanding of the level of international service standards. Again, we see this as an opportunity to help build the hospitality skill set within the community and enable a progressive local industry.

What is the role of the private sector in developing human resources in the hospitality industry?

STAMPER: The private sector plays a critical role in developing human resources in the hospitality industry in Africa and the Middle East. The hospitality sector is a service industry with people at the heart of its success. Private companies have a certain responsibility to ensure they are supporting local communities through the hiring of local talent.

In emerging markets it is important to facilitate access for individuals in the community struggling to find employment and to help them build their knowledge and skills in the industry. As responsible corporate citizens, private companies must also undertake the tasks of upskilling the developing talent pool within the country. This may entail working with universities and colleges to place students in temporary learning roles or bringing young graduates into the hotel workforce and allowing them opportunities to learn on the job and create long-term careers in hospitality.