By Norman Moyo
I SINCERELY hope you had a good rest because 2004 is surely going to be a bumpy ride. This is not to say things are going to get worse. On the contrary, I am optimistic that 2004 could usher i
n the long-awaited semblance of order our economy has been deprived of.
With sanity being restored in the financial services sector and stability on the foreign exchange market, tourism players need to reflect on the following issues and challenges, which are likely to continue in 2004:
* Survival in a down cycle;
* Building travel and confidence as a critical issue facing the industry;
* Balance between profitability and service;
* Opportunities for accessing pro-ductive sector funding through RBZ;
* Development of better key indicators and analysis tools;
* The “solvency dance”; and
* Funding, training, motivating and retaining capable human resources skills.
In preparation for 2004 business leaders need to go back to the drawing board and work on the basics.
Management gurus always preach about doing the right thing all the time. All industry stakeholders should understand what this simple concept in business means and its value to the success of any business.
Last year I criticised a number of stakeholders for not doing the right thing and I criticised tourism leaders for lack of inertia to drive the industry out of the doldrums, government for lack of a clear-cut economic revival policy, the airline industry for their failure to simply fly the national carrier profitably and tourism operators for their inflammatory reports exacerbating the negative publicity.
Nature has a funny way of rewarding those who do the right thing. A case in point is the current financial services sector after the enunciation of the monetary policy. Suffice it to say a lot of players were caught with their pants down.
But then let us not dwell on the past and irreversible and concentrate on the controllables. Getting to basics for the tourism industry means getting our business models right.
A good business model is one that embraces customers – processes and finance.
Individuals are an organisation’s biggest physical assets.
Customers are its next biggest virtual asset. Then we should work on the processes and operations to ensure the tools for the job are adequately provided.
When these three aspects are addressed then the fourth aspect, the financials, falls into place.
Sadly the tourism industry for a long time has been cruising on cloud nine and forgot to set up proper sustainable business models when the sun was still shining. People issues in the sector have been relegated to insignificance. Any business that does not value its people does that at its own peril.
The industry apart from identifying and employing the right calibre of management should seriously consider a proactive stance in regards to building a win-win relationship with the workers and workers’ council representatives in 2004. Gone are the days when the relationship between management and workers was that of cat and mouse.
Our industry more than anything else draws its strength from its strong human resources skills base. Our greatest competencies is the friendliness and hospitable nature of our people. Getting the basics right means we should nourish, embrace and treat our people as sacred. That means we should invest in their training, motivation, career enhancement and above all reward them – employee empowerment at all levels.
Our customers have become more discerning, dynamic, demanding and knowledgeable. He is a need for a paradigm shift away from focusing on the physical asset (brick, mortar, brands) to focusing on the virtual asset. Rapid market changes and the explosion in new technologies not only support but also require innovation in designing the hospitality product of the future. There is need for corporate reengineering, function relocation and total quality management within the hospitality sector.
The process and operations needs to be revisited and improved. A regional tourist has more destinations available to him today than ever before and mediocre performers will not be considered by such a tourist. The entire value chain should be looked into including our cost management structures, productivity levels and the impact of technological advancement.
The 21st century has brought with it an era of a fully automated industry connecting the customer to a universe of diverse products and services offered by an array of providers.
When the people issues are addressed, customers satisfied and processes are effective and efficient then the financials will fall into place. I hope as an industry we have learnt our lessons from 2003 and we will build our businesses on solid foundations.
Tourism remains the winning card that could bring in the recovery the economy so desperately needs.
The governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has called our bluff, I suggest we should go back to him with a sound plan of how we can help him achieve his vision. I think the man will listen to voices of reason not empty rhetoric.
If we continue hoping and wishing that such and such will happen we will dig our own grave, but if we imagine and believe we will not only survive the down cycle but come out of it wiser.
Happy New Year!
* Normanyo is the Cresta Hospitality group sales and marketing manager.