African hospitality sector seeks freedom from Traditional management models

African hospitality sector

CEO GUY STEHLIK ADVOCATES FOR FLEXIBLE, PERFORMANCE-BASED AGREEMENTS TO EMPOWER HOTEL OWNERS IN AFRICAN HOSPITALITY SECTOR. BON HOTELS TARGETS MID-MARKET GROWTH IN WEST AFRICA WITH STRATEGIC EXPANSION PLANS.



CEO Stehlik champions owner autonomy and flexible agreements over rigid contracts.

Traditionally rigid, long-term and onerous hotel, resort and lodge management models for mid-sized, mid-scale and mid-market  hotels, lodges and resorts  are no longer fit for purpose within much of Africa’s unique hospitality landscape. For this growing and thriving African hospitality sector segment, Guy Stehlik, CEO of BON Hotels, advocates for a shift towards greater flexibility and owner empowerment. He believes that many hotel owners throughout Africa should now be in a position to negotiate more control than being locked into inflexible, long-term contracts where owner involvement is shunned.

“There’s a misconception that signing a franchise agreement should require committing to an inflexible, decades-long contract,” says Stehlik. “Our BON agreements prioritise the business’s best interests – a model tailored to a hotel business’s specific needs. We’ve often discovered that after a year of managing the hotel, a different type of BON involvement is required, and if the change proposed is in the business’s best interests, we’ll go with the change, even if it costs us money.”

“But, while we encourage active ownership, we also believe in pre-established boundaries where we document the rights of the owner and the rights of the operator through the BON Owner Operator Bill of Rights, where this  approach aims for a balanced partnership between franchisors and franchisees and operator and owner.” 

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Building Bridges for Mutual Success of African hospitality sector

Under Stehlik’s guidance, BON Hotels have crafted a blueprint for the relationship between hotel owners and BON Hotels management that emphasises mutual respect, transparency, and a focus on long-term mutual benefit. Central to this approach is what they term “manchising” — a fusion of management and franchising principles designed to create a symbiotic partnership between the two parties.

Unlocking Value through Performance-Based Agreements 

Stehlik explains that one significant change in this new approach to management would be to adopt agreements in which operators are judged based on their actual performance and results achieved.

He believes this type of agreement creates a true partnership between owners and operators because it aligns their goals – both want to maximise profits and keep guests satisfied. The agreements clearly spell out the responsibilities of each party. The operator is accountable for delivering good results, but the owner must also meet specific obligations. 

The Growing Corporate Travel Market in West Africa

Stehlik is encouraging African hospitality sector players to embrace new ways of working, as he sees tremendous potential – specifically in West Africa’s burgeoning corporate mid-market segment. This region is experiencing rapid urbanisation, a growing middle class, and an influx of corporate investments, creating heightened demand for quality accommodations.

“We are witnessing a convergence of favourable demographics, economic progress, and an increasing appetite for travel,” Stehlik states. BON Hotels is well-positioned to capitalise on the region’s corporate travel market with a strategic footprint across major commercial hubs like Abuja, Lagos, Warri, and Port Harcourt.

Stehlik adds, “Our ambitious expansion plans, including forthcoming properties in Ghana, Eswatini, Botswana, and Ethiopia, underscore BON Hotels’ commitment to spearheading hospitality innovation across the continent.”

He highlights that BON Hotels’ properties in West Africa are ideally situated to meet the rising demands of business travellers and the expanding middle class. “Mid-market or ‘Premium Economy’ properties are experiencing a surge in popularity,” he explains. Historically, hotel accommodations throughout West Africa fell into the extremes of either lavish luxury or bare-bones budget. However, an increasing number of BON hotels are carving out a niche in the mid-market, offering an elevated level of comfort and amenities without the opulent pricing, Stehlik explains.

He believes that the traditional model of highly restrictive, one-size-fits-all management contracts isn’t always suitable for mid-market players, which often involve proprietor financing, hands-on owner management, and multi-generational family legacies. “BON’s expertise enables owners to capitalise on their operator’s skilled guidance while retaining the autonomy and authority they desire,” he concludes.

About BON Hotels

BON Hotels, established in 2013 by Guy Stehlik and his seasoned management team with over 127 years of combined hospitality experience, is a leading South African hotel company. Specializing in managing, marketing, and owning hotels, lodges, and resorts across Southern Africa, West Africa, and East Africa, BON Hotels is renowned for its comprehensive management, marketing, and administration systems. Embodying the ethos of “Good people. Good thinking. Good feeling,” BON Hotels prioritizes creating loyalty among guests, suppliers, and stakeholders through its owner-focused approach to hotel administration, management, and marketing.

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