Running Africa’s top hotel is no piece of cake – in fact, it’s more like making a rich, velvety sauce, one that takes many hours – and lots of attention behind the scenes at every stage of the process – to be perfected, combined and presented as a beautiful, pleasurable final product. Steenberg Hotel General Manager Gaby Gramm gives us an insider’s view into what it takes to run a luxury Cape Town hotel in this 2-part series.
What are today’s requirements for running a luxury hotel?
Coping with economic conditions to be able to navigate a constantly-changing market place, and the ability to enter and create new markets, is our priority. Further, we need to focus on developing talent and attracting them to our company. A high degree of flexibility and creativity, to be able to maintain high standards with higher costs/less resources available, is another key requirement.
What are some of the main challenges that you face?
We are in competition with many other stunning destinations around the world, and should never forget this. There is an oversupply of hotel rooms in the Cape Town area and – at the same time – accessibility into Cape Town (direct flight restriction) is turning into a challenge. We also need to ensure repeat and higher frequency visits from regular guests and operators in these challenging times.
How do you attract the right calibre of staff to ensure consistently high service standards?
Skills levels in the South African hospitality industry present an ongoing challenge and we need to work around it creatively. At Steenberg Hotel, we employ based on personality and fit, and not necessarily prior experience. Our staff undergo ongoing training and questioning of standards. It’s also crucial that they be able to respond to the ‘unvoiced need’ innovatively, to eliminate and reduce what the guest does not want in the first place. In this way, we create a competitive advantage through service offering and flexibility.
Next week, in Running a luxury Cape Town Hotel: Part II, Gaby will look at Steenberg Hotel from a guest’s perspective, discuss how guest satisfaction is measured and utilised within the hotel, and consider the new trends in the world’s top luxury hotel market.