In a recent episode of the AHIF Podcast, Suhail Ashok Bhatia, the Director of Asset Management for CHIC, shared valuable insights into the challenges and successes of hotel development in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). CHIC, recognized as a leading hotel owner has been instrumental in bringing world-class accommodation to the DRC.
Points Suhail Bhatia Discusses In The Podcast
Here are the points Suhail Bhatia discusses in the podcast.
Background of CHIC and Its Inception
CHIC, formed in 2017, was the brainchild of local businessmen with deep roots in the DRC. Recognizing the lack of quality branded accommodation in the country, the founders aimed to introduce premium hospitality to the region. Suhail Bhatia highlighted that the inspiration for CHIC came from the need expressed by visitors and guests for top-notch accommodations.
Distinguishing Factors of CHIC
Suhail emphasized CHIC’s position as legacy builders engaged in businesses, such as fast fashion retail, branded F&B, IT, and mining. This diverse portfolio provided CHIC with the expertise needed to introduce high-end residences, commercial spaces, and hotels to the DRC. The company’s confidence in its construction capabilities in the DRC contributed to CHIC’s success.
Impact on the Local Economy and Tourism
The introduction of CHIC’s hotels has had a significant impact on the local economy. The construction of these hotels has generated employment opportunities, with approximately 500 jobs expected to be created for the local community. CHIC’s focus on developing the communities around their projects reflects their commitment to contributing positively to the region’s growth.
Strategies for Project Success
Addressing the challenges associated with large-scale hotel developments in emerging markets, Suhail Bhatia outlined key strategies for project success. These strategies include diversifying into mixed-use opportunities, conducting comprehensive market research, fostering local partnerships, and maintaining a balanced debt-equity ratio. The involvement of experienced project managers has also been crucial to ensuring quality control and efficient construction processes.
Collaboration with Accor
Suhail Ashok Bhatia explained that the initial plan was for CHIC to run the hotels independently. However, CHIC selected Accor due to its existing presence in the DRC and its alignment with the local culture. Partnership with Accor has contributed to the success of CHIC’s hotel projects, with the recently opened Novotel Kinshasa in Gombe being a testament to their collaboration.
CHIC’s commitment to the future is evident in its embrace of technology. The company has implemented cloud-based systems from Accor, introducing innovations such as digital key technology, allowing guests to check in with their mobile phones. This move aligns with CHIC’s focus on sustainable practices, reducing the ecological footprint by limiting the use of paper and traditional magnetic cards.
Significance of Events like AHIF
Suhail Ashok Bhatia highlighted the crucial role events like AHIF play in fostering development in the region. He emphasized the importance of knowledge sharing, technical know-how, and the facilitation of dialogue between industry stakeholders and government authorities. CHIC’s participation in AHIF has been instrumental in its success, with the platform offering opportunities for learning, networking, and addressing industry challenges.
Suhail Bhatia’s Closing Thoughts and Advice
In closing, Suhail Bhatia offered advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and developers looking to make a mark in the African hospitality industry. He encouraged taking risks, seizing the current period of opportunity on the continent, assembling a skilled team, understanding the market, and leveraging risks effectively.
The podcast episode serves as a valuable resource for those interested in the intricacies of hotel development in emerging markets and showcases CHIC’s innovative approach to sustainable, quality accommodation in the DRC.