SOUTH Africa’s hospitality industry leaders must believe in themselves and their ability to compete by encouraging competition, innovation and entrepreneurial energy in the hospitality industry.
“We have tremendous potential as a country to create a unique experience for visitors. We just need to believe in ourselves. It’s easy to become negative, but we as industry leaders must maintain that belief in our potential,” says Gidon Novick, founder of Lucid Ventures, the R350m Cape Town-based investment fund behind the new Home* Suite Hotels boutique brand launched earlier this year. Home* Suite Hotels Bristol opened in Rosebank, Johannesburg, in May, with two more hotels in Johannesburg (Rosebank and Sandton) and three in Cape Town (Sea Point, Gardens and De Waterkant) to follow in the next two years.
Novick built a reputation as a business maverick and brand builder when he redefined South African airspace with the creation of low-cost carrier kulula.com. Lucid Ventures, his latest innovation, facilitates a full tax deduction for its investors through a Section 12J certification, a SARS incentive aimed at keeping investment funds onshore and stimulating high-growth and job-creating industries like tourism. Equally innovative, the Home* Suite Hotels concept combines the best of a traditional-style hotel with the best of Airbnb-style accommodation. “We created this magical space in the middle, which gives you the safety and security and predictability of a big hotel, while at the same time giving guests the local connectedness and real care,” he explains.
Delivering a message of optimism at an event in Cape Town this week, Novick reported returning home from a recent overseas trip to encounter a general mood of negativity in South Africa. “We have gold, but we also have to be bold enough to continue innovating and continue being leaders in whatever way we can. We have the potential to be the best. Like anything in life, you have to find what you are great at and focus on what you can do well. The area that we can be absolutely brilliant at is tourism. The potential is there. We need to maintain the belief. Keep the pressure on politicians to make the changes that are needed, but we need to focus on what we do well. We innovate, we are able to find incredible people and motivate them to not only become great staff members and hospitality agents but also to build themselves into the best people they can be,” he says.