No Crying Over Spilt Milk with Clover’s New App

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Clover milks technology by adopting a disruptive, cost-saving turnkey solution   

Clover certainly isn’t waiting for the cows to come home – it has recently incorporated a proprietary App with stand-out features that is loaded onto a bespoke mobile device, with the aim of increasing efficiency within its client service and store merchandising network.

This turnkey solution was developed for the dairy giant by award-winning Cape Town-based software company, Morpheus Commerce ( Headed by CEO and Founder Gary Durbach, the company won an Apps Africa innovation award in 2017 and was a 2017 Finalist in the Digital Company of the Year category at the 15th annual National Business Awards. Previous and current clients include Red Bull, Tiger Brands, Bos Ice Tea and i-store.

For Clover, Morpheus Commerce crafted a breakthrough end-to-end solution that combines hardware and software.

“Most companies find managing and dealing with hardware really irritating and time-consuming,” explains Durbach. “This is because they have to manage a host of external suppliers from mobile network service providers, to handset suppliers, to insurance providers. The Morpheus Commerce solution takes care of all the admin, paperwork and supplier relationships, removing the headache for the client.” All support is digitized and requested and delivered through the App.

Morpheus Commerce tested eight different handsets before settling on the most rugged device – “we have actually thrown it on the floor a few times!” he chuckles.

He then negotiated to increase the handset’s one-year manufacturing warranty to two years. In the event of theft and the less likely possibility of damage, he brokered an insurance package that will hand-deliver a replacement for a missing or faulty handset within 24-hours so that representatives experience only minimal downtime.

Durbach has also created another unprecedented advantage: To ensure connectivity each device is loaded with dual SIM cards, one from Telkom, the other from Vodacom. Users can toggle between the SIMs, depending on their location, to achieve optimal signal coverage and reception. Special data packages were also brokered. Regardless of which, users don’t need to be online to be able to access the App.

Clover implemented the Morpheus Commerce solution in late February 2019 and can now monitor and track sales and stock-taking for over 1250 of its Merchandisers operating across the country, and in real time, too.

The benefits for the Merchandisers are clear, as daily tasks appear upon login, making the day’s work far more efficient. As each handset interfaces with centralized management, there is clear and mutual accountability for both parties regarding deliverables. On the management side, physical locations and movement of the field force can be observed in real time via a geolocated digital map and sales reporting and merchandising status updates are automated.

Says Manager of Sales Analytics at Clover, Hannes Pretorius: “We initially started with a beta-phase of just 10 Merchandisers using the Morpheus Commerce solution and then based on the demonstrated success, involving both increased efficiencies and cost-savings, we have now rolled it out across our field force.”

Morpheus Commerce has also created the ability for its clients to filter what the handset is used for, with the option to remove access to social media channels, such as YouTube, should the solution need to adhere to the client’s corporate code.

While Morpheus Commerce currently focuses on the retail and FMCG markets, its solution is relevant to a range of industries. Hospitals could incorporate it as a digital aid for Doctors’ rounds and ward inspections; corporate cleaning services could digitally manage their cleaning schedules; car rental companies could upgrade their car returns process by doing away with unnecessary tree-ware; and so on…

But just how efficient is it? Typically, explains Durbach, in a hypothetical company with just 100 sales representatives, each of those representatives will work approximately 235 days in a calendar year and make on average 10 calls a day. By using Morpheus Commerce, this same company would benefit from the following efficiencies:

  • Time is saved before each client call due to less preparation needed – this is all provided on the device
  • Time is saved on client calls due to the faster interface, gaining approximately 1 x hour of time per rep per day
  • Time is saved through automated reporting
  • Time is saved by placing sales orders directly via the device
  • Time is saved as there is a15% travel time reduction through planning
  • Costs are saved due to the 50% reduction in printed material

The result is an overall increase in efficiency and significant savings. Clearly, the near future can anticipate other companies joining Clover in this new wave of efficiency when it comes to distributed management.

Morpheus Commerce is not, as you first might think, named after the ancient Greek god of dreams – “although we do solve nightmares!” Durbach quips – but rather, it takes after the memorable character played by Laurence Fishburne in the Matrix movie franchise. In the fictional world of the films, Morpheus is the leader of rebel forces fighting to save humanity. In reality, Morpheus Commerce will save Sales and Merchandising Managers considerable time and money.

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Chef Boldwin Barlow From Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands Shares His Delectable Twist On The Classical Paella Recipe

Chef Boldwin Barlow, from Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands, shares his delectable twist on the classical Paella recipe.


50 g prawn meat

100g clams

50g sausage

450g shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp paprika

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp medium curry spice

1 tsp turmeric

Salt and black pepper to taste

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice (Par boiled Rice)

1 pinch saffron threads

1 bay leaf

½ bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped & coriander

2 lemons, zested

2 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp truffle oil (optional)

1 spring onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

30 mins (prep time)

1 hr (ready to serve)


In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper,

turmeric, and curry spice.

Heat 2 tsbp olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red

pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, coriander, and lemon zest. Add in the spice mixture.

Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low.

Simmer 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tsbp olive oil and truffle oil (optional) in a separate skillet over medium heat. Stir in marinated

chicken and spring onion; cook 5 minutes.

Stir in bell pepper and sausage; cook 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp; cook, turning the shrimp, until both sides are pink.

Spread rice mixture onto a serving tray. Top with meat and seafood mixture.



The Westin Cape Town & Zolani Mahola Takes Time Out On World Sleep Day 2019

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Do not disturb: The Westin Cape Town and Zolani take time out for World Sleep Day

Taking time away from technology is the focus at The Westin Cape Town Hotel for World Sleep Day (Friday 15 March 2019).

Devices have been linked to poor sleep quality, as the blue light in most screens delays the body’s circadian rhythm. In addition, the constant demands of returning calls and sending emails, along with various notifications from apps on your device, can affect your ability to “switch off” before bed.

In addition, nearly 65% of travellers sleep less while on the road, which is why The Westin Cape Town is encouraging guests to experience #JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) on World Sleep Day.  

The #JOMO campaign will encourage guests to take a break from tech all in the name of a good night’s sleep.

Alongside guests, Freshlyground’s Zolani Mahola will also be taking time out from her busy schedule to unwind at The Westin and will be experiencing a “device-free” day.  Zolani called on her social media followers to join her in a day without tech distractions, but putting some distance between themselves and their devices. Taking some “space” from social media is all with the aim of boosting wellness through me-time.

Zolani joined The Westin in launching their World Sleep Day activities by testing out the hotel’s signature Heavenly® Bed in The Westin’s foyer to create awareness around the importance sleep plays in a healthy lifestyle.

Hit the snooze button

Dr. Melissa Lipford, a neurologist at Mayo Clinic and sleep consultant for World Sleep Society, who champions World Sleep Day, says: “There is a direct correlation between your sleep and your overall well-being.

“And perhaps unexpectedly, quality sleep is also foundational for people to reap the benefits of fitness and is a necessary part of exercise recovery. Disconnecting and winding down one to two hours before bed, which includes putting away light-emitting electronic devices, lends to falling asleep more easily and experiencing deeper, more restful sleep.”

In lockstep with a growing global demand for well-being and an increased awareness of the value of self-care, Westin will reward guests who find the ‘Joy of Missing Out’ and take time back for extra sleep, exercise or a break from technology.

Waking up to wellness

Zolani’s downtime from her device comes amid a packed schedule of performances, both with Freshlyground and as a solo artist, and corporate speaking engagements, and quality time with her family. She has recently returned from the USA, where she hung out backstage on the Daily Show, with Trevor Noah, and met up Goldfish in California.

“It’s so important to put your health and wellness first, by taking back time for yourself. I have been travelling and performing over the last few months, and I decided to switch off for World Sleep Day at the Westin and reenergize ahead of my upcoming performances, talks and appearances.”

In addition, the Westin will be offering guests the option of JOMO doortags and specially-curated Sleep Well amenities. In helping guests get a good night’s sleep, The Westin offers a complimentary Sleep Well Lavender Balm bedside amenity, infused with the calming essential oils of lavender and chamomile – the latest in a series of sleep offerings that promise a better slumber for travellers.

Leon Meyer, GM of The Westin Cape Town, says: “In today’s always-on culture, the value of disconnecting and taking time for your wellbeing cannot be underestimated. This wellbeing starts with a good night’s sleep, which we embrace with our signature Heavenly beds and pillows. A restful night not only improves business productivity, but leads to better health and overall happiness.”

For more information, please visit and follow along on social via #WestinJOMO.



Lee Zama Is The New CEO Of FEDHASA

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New CEO takes the FEDHASA helm

The Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA) has announced the appointment of Lee Zama as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Zama, who is the first female CEO appointed at FEDHASA, has taken up the position as of 1 March 2019.

FEDHASA is the body representing hospitality industry role-players, and is recognised by government as the voice for the South African hospitality industry. The association turns 70 this year.

“With this rich history, the association has consistently served its members and the industry at large. It is a great opportunity for me to drive this organisation towards an even greater future. It is a privilege that my career objectives are complementary to those of FEDHASA. I am looking forward to being of service,” Zama says.

With over 25 years of experience in senior and executive management, Zama has a wealth of knowledge in the hospitality, food and facilities services fields. She has filled a variety of leadership roles during her career, in which she has demonstrated the necessary skills to lead FEDHASA.

“We believe that we have secured the services of a talented and dynamic CEO, in Lee Zama and we look forward to Lee taking control of FEDHASA’s recently adopted strategic objectives in our drive to secure additional new and exciting benefits for all of our members,”, says Jeff Rosenberg, FEDHASA National Chairperson.

“In addition, on behalf of the Board, I would like to thank our outgoing CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, for all that he brought to FEDHASA during his term and to wish him continued success in his new role as CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).”

Zama aims to drive strategic objectives recently adopted by the FEDHASA board.

“These include the holistic adoption of an approach that encompasses consolidation and strengthening representation across the tourism industry and beyond, and to ensure an all-inclusive path to future growth,” Zama explains.

Zama began her career in the hospitality industry, working in operations and sales development within the catering sector, and has served on the BEECA cleaning association board.

“My recent experience serving on a cleaning association as strategic partnership committee leader, investment committee member as well as the wage negotiations committee member, has placed me in good stead in the holistic understanding of membership mandates and the serving thereof,” Zama adds.

Zama has extensive experience building and leading teams to success, and enjoys helping people towards their goals. In her free time, she is a keen golfer and avid traveller.


Charissa Bloomberg | Psychologist & Integrity Specialist | Integrity Training

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Corporate Governance

Integrity Training for Africa

Did you know well-governed companies perform better in commercial terms? But how can leaders ensure their employees play the game by acting with integrity in all their dealings? Integrity training and learning from those who’ve suffered “lapses” should help to steady your ship and keep it out of turbulent waters.

Charissa Bloomberg, celebrity psychologist and integrity specialist, says the focus tends to be wrong – often on punishment and retribution – when big corporates make the headlines over matters of corruption and fraud; often just related to one or two corrupt individuals. Instead, she advises, we should become forward-focused and begin to instill integrity-conscious skills into individuals and, indeed, society at large.

Raising the integrity meter

Bloomberg offers corporate training through her business, Hidden Dimensions, which gives executives at all levels – from cleaner to CEO – advice on what integrity means and how to apply it in their everyday lives. She comments that her training is not focused on ethics (i.e. a set of moral principles that can be enforced), but rather on integrity (i.e. the quality of being honest and acting on your moral principles). She stands by the opinion that, without integrity, there can be no ethics.

Having integrity as your inner compass requires an inward conversation in which an individual looks at the various options available to them, and chooses the one that will be of most benefit and have the fewest negative consequences to all involved. In the business world, it can make the difference between losing your reputation and billions of rands; versus your brand being perceived in a postitive light and its coffers and reputation remaining in tact.

Government clean-ups

President Cyril Ramaphosa included in his State of the Nation Address several important strategies in the fight against corruption within government – specifically within state-owned enterprises and the education system. It has been a decade since the Scorpions were disbanded, but now Ramaphosa plans to set up a similar division within the National Prosecuting Authority to fight grand corruption and state capture.

This move has been big on restoring the institutional integrity that was almost destroyed under the country’s former president, and shows the importance of strong leadership, in government and business, especially in troubled times. Such lessons can be applied to troubled big corporates too, but a leader must not just say all the right things; he must also act in the right ways. He must, most importantly, follow through on what he has said.

Fixing the fall-out

Every second day, it seems, a big South African corporate makes headlines for its accounting irregularities or looting; its auditing inaccuracies, plagiarism or inability to treat customers fairly. Social media fuels the fire and, after an organisation has lost credibility in the public eye, former customers often take their business elsewhere.

For those who remain behind, it’s a hard road and a tough climb to rebuild a reputation that’s been damaged. Customers and suppliers tend to disassociate themselves with the organisation and staff leave to work for other companies.

While society wants retribution and punishment for corrupt atrocities, especially those involving the reckless squndering of hard-earned retirement funds, for example, Bloomberg advises that as a nation we should rather start to look ahead to a point where preventative measures have been implemented. How would we get to such a point? What needs to be implemented right now? How can we work towards such a situation in our daily lives?

Prevention is better than cure

Bloomberg is of the firm belief that we put structures in place to prevent such happenings in the first place; corporate training on integrity needs to become standard throughout all industries, covering topics such as what integrity is and how it should ideally be applied in our daily lives.

After an integrity lapse, the best modus operandi for remaining leaders is of course to:
• preserve staff who want to work towards a solution i.e. don’t eject the pilot/crew of a faulty plane. They are the most likely people to be able to land that plane safely;
• be clear, in media statements, about what’s gone wrong and how it is going to be rectified – which will earn the respect of remaining clients and suppliers; and
• emphasise good governance at every point going forward – it can overturn a rotten corporate culture like nothing else.

But prevention of a bad situation is obviously preferrable to actually getting into that situation in the first place. For this reason, she feels all employees at a firm should be able to experience integrity awareness training, during which they can sign the integrity pledge available here. Additionally, businesses of all shapes and sizes can elect integrity ambassadors and can also publicly reward staff who act with integrity during the course of their daily duties. Bloomberg laments that we need to be able to self-reflect on the choices we are presented with each day, so that we can set about making the right decisions – those that impact well not only on our own lives, but also on our colleagues, family members, neighbours, fellow citizens and so forth.

In the corporate training offered by her business, Hidden Dimensions, Bloomberg sets about helping to instill important skills in delegates. “Stop and think,” she cautions them. “Stealing, behaving unethically, other forms of greed and corruption – these things will always be temptations, but they will come back and bite you; hard. The organisation you work for, your family, friends and beyond.”

Beyond her group sessions within the corporate world, Bloomberg suggests that various dialogues are held, where organisations that have suffered integrity lapses can come together and discuss the lessons they have learned as they search for and strive towards a way forward. “As a psychologist, I believe we are a traumatised and angry society. An angry society is an aggressive and unhealthy one. It’s time to start rebuilding and healing the damage that the conscious corruption and unethical behaviour taking place in South Africa (and universally) has wreaked upon us all.”

A dialogue session focused on integrity lapses and how to move forward will lead up to Bloomberg’s first Integrity Forum for South Africa, taking place later this year in Cape Town.

Contact us

To book or find out more about integrity training for your company, contact Charissa Bloomberg of Hidden Dimensions on 082 737 8988 or; and sign her integrity pledge at this link:
For media opportunities, contact Vanessa Rogers of TextBOX Conceptual on 082 22 8496 or


Michael Wolf | Chief Executive Officer | Formula D Interactive

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Innovative visitor experience design holds the key to tourism growth

Visitor attractions form the backbone of tourism, but to ensure continued growth in visitor numbers tourism destinations will need to stay on the forefront of global visitor attraction trends and technologies.

Tourism is one of South Africa’s most reliable economic sectors for showing growth. According to the Department of Tourism, tourism contributed R136.1 billion (about 2.9%) to the total gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017. The department also identified the potential for this sector to grow from around 1.5 million jobs to 2.1 million over the next decade.

As a major tourist destination, South Africa has much to offer international and local travelers – of which 10.3 million and 17.2 million were recorded respectively in South African Tourism’s most recent annual report.

But how do visitor attractions ensure they are the first choice for tourists?

“South Africa has a lot to offer, but we cannot lean back and rely on Table Mountain, Safari parks and Robben Island,” Wolf says, “there are still major opportunities for visitor attractions along the major tourism routes.”

Michael Wolf is CEO of Formula D Interactive, an attraction and visitor experience design consultancy. He says that attractions need the right mix of uniqueness, thematic relevance and wow-factor. 

Laws of attraction

Tourists visiting regions with more attractions tended to stay longer. Although the Western Cape received only the third highest number of international visitors, compared to other provinces, visitors stay on average 14 days and spend almost double that of other provinces, according to the tourism annual report.

The top attractions visited include the V&A Waterfront, with over 1.16 million visitors and Cape Point with over 940 000 visitors. The Table Mountain Cable Way had 799 000 visitors. Comparatively, the Kruger Park saw over 390 000 people pass through the gates, while the Apartheid Museum had 301 000 visitors in the same year. Other landmarks receiving high visitor foot traffic included Robben Island (331000 visitors), Mandela House in Soweto (234 000 visitors) and Constitution Hill (111 000 visitors).

“Like any other product or service, tourism destinations compete against each other for visitor numbers, drawing on factors such as novelty, unique selling prepositions, and relevance to the potential audiences,” Wolf explains. “Regions in South Africa that are not as well positioned as the Western Cape would do good to strategically develop flagship tourism experiences to increase their attraction value in a growing industry.”

Embrace innovation

Last year, Formula D was commissioned to lead a massive visitor experience upgrade at The Old Fort on the Constitution Hill precinct, by using technology and innovative design to showcase South Africa’s history and journey to democracy. The exhibits included cutting edge innovations, like a hologram of Joe Slovo, bringing him back to life in a cell.

It’s this kind of innovation that visitors centers need to adopt in order to remain relevant to their audience, Wolf explains.

“It’s crucial that the tourism industry considers international trends and the exact needs of the target audiences. Innovation in attractions design doesn’t necessarily mean that the content of the offerings is revolutionised. We believe that innovation can be expected when classical formats are being disrupted.”

International research indicates that tourists are constantly requiring new attractions or more innovation at old ones. Modern visitor centers are employing a model of “Entertainment, Excitement and Education”. This has seen tourism destinations looking at ways to entertain visitors, excite them – often using adrenalin-inducing activities such as at amusement parks, and to provide thought-provoking content or opportunities for reflection.

Wolf adds: “We will see more and more shopping malls that become in parts museums, family outings that are informal learning spaces, or petrol stations with major roadside tourism offerings.”

Formula D will soon see the launch of their latest project, which is an innovative mixture of family entertainment, gaming arcade and learning center.

The tech trend

Embracing social media, immersive audio-visual technology and virtual reality will become important to the future of tourism destinations, Wolf believes.

According to presentations at Attractions Africa’s 2018 conference, by next year millennial’s are expected to make 50% of global travelers, with around 300 million trips. In the next 5 to 10 years, these millennial travelers will become the industry’s core base. With their more tech-savvy approach, millennial’s are changing the way travel is consumed and visitor centers will have to develop more technologically appealing offerings. Tourist attractions will also have to adapt to include new experiences, such as audio tours and digital signboards, as well as real-time social media engagement.

Formula D has worked with clients around the world using innovative strategies and technologies to boost the attraction value of visitor centers and heritage sites – including of things that may not always be available, Wolf adds.

“We hear that there haven’t been many Great White Sharks on the coast of South African this year, which has a huge impact on the shark viewing boat operators. What if they had a visitor center which gives visitors an unforgettable shark experience generated by immersive audio-visual technology?”

Formula D know what they are talking about: They have developed an 18 x 3 meter immersive Gulf Stream Experience for the Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science in Miami, Florida, treating visitors to a lifelike, yet virtual experience of rare marine life that cannot be held in captivity.



Vanessa Rogers | Entrepreneur | TextBOX Conceptual

Cultivating a service spread!

While big corporates may have an ad agency in their corner when it comes to getting a press release out or managing a social media furore, the entrepreneurs and small business owners can feel stumped as to where to find editorial services that are affordable, proficient and reliable – especially when they start to grow and the owner can’t continue to do everything themselves.

Enter TextBOX Conceptual, an editorial-focused media business based in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, but which also assists clients throughout cities in Southern Africa (i.e. Johannesburg), Namibia (i.e. Windhoek) and even overseas, such as the Middle East (i.e. Doha). Its service suite, which has altered slightly and grown in number over the years, now includes:

• copy editing / proofreading;
• article writing / press-release writing;
• web editing, writing for websites;
• academic, book and textbook editing / proofreading;
• social media management / media liasion;
• project management /digital newsletters;
• a full public relations ensemble; and
• transcriptions.

Working alongside a select group of skilled associates and freelancers, owner Vanessa Rogers has clocked up over two decades in the print and digital media industries. She believes editorial providers should be adaptable, accurate and show keen time-keeping when it comes to deadlines. “You don’t want to start up a PR relationship with someone who can only write about one thing, because your own business offering may change significantly over time. Your copywriter or PR consultant should be curious and show a continuous desire to learn and explore what you do; they should be innovative and know how to research a topic to the point where you just can’t wait to add in your experts comments. Any agency can service a big corporate with a huge budget; it takes considerably more skill to write clever copy for the small guy, and to put it out there via your chosen contacts. Fewer correct and original press releases, published in appropriate media, are better than a multitude of inappropriate or error-ridden pieces. If possible, each press release submitted to a high-profile online publication should be an original or exclusive.”

While Vanessa strives to be as adaptable as possible, in terms of both the type of work she takes on and the industries she services, she confesses to harbouring a particular interest and affection for the work of entrepreneurs – as well as a belief in their importance within the South African economy. Entrepreneurs build new businesses, which then create jobs, heighten market competition and mean that productivity in those industries must rise to meet the passion of the keen new entrant. There is a positive feedback loop between innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development – if we could just add government support to the list, standards of living in South Africa would certainly rise for everyone, she believes.

If you’ve ever worked in a media role – either permanent or freelance – you will know how important it is to roll with the punches; and even more so in South Africa. For this reason, Vanessa has opted not to specialise when it comes to the industries she works for, but instead spreads her editorial know-how across healthcare (Natmed Medical Defence), parenting (TPPSA), medical aesthetics (Anaclinical), branding (Sporting Images), fitness (Roi Mas and Anaclinical Wellness), psychology and corporate training (Hidden Dimensions), travel (Suiteres, Arebbusch Travel Lodge & theLAB Guesthouses), online marketing (RN Group) and SEO/PPC (Savvy Sprout).

She says of her business: “I opened TextBOX Conceptual 14 years ago in 2005, following seven years in the mainstream magazine industry. My advice to those wanting to get into this game is to lay some groundwork in a few permanent positions and then, when you go on your own, to diversify, diversify, diversify. Also: cultivate a keen sense of humour. Hone your skills with short courses, read avidly and challenge what you know by networking as extensively as possible. This industry is not for the faint-hearted but the rewards of seeing your writing in print or online in promotion of people you believe in cannot be beaten!”



Martina Barth | New Sales Manager for Inbound Leisure | Liz McGrath Collection

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New Sales Manager for Inbound Leisure – Martina Barth. 

The Liz McGrath Collection is proud to announce the welcome addition of Martina Barth to its staff portfolio, in her new role as Sales Manager responsible for Inbound Leisure. Barth joined the 5-star luxury hotel in Constantia, Cape Town in mid-January 2019 after a decade as Sales Manager at The Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, Cape Town.

Barth has been active in the hospitality industry for over two decades, having started her career as Assistant F&B Manager at the V&A Hotel. Speaking of her previous work experience, she says: “I have had the great fortune to work with leading hospitality brands such as Arabella-Sheraton (now The Westin) as PR & Promotions Manager, and Peermont, as their Cape Town sales arm.”

In her new role at The Liz McGrath Collection, Barth’s key responsibilities are to maintain the already strong partnerships with the hotel’s STO accounts and Industry Stakeholders – the hotel is extremely well established in the global and local marketplace. She is also on board to forge new relationships with emerging markets.

Barth is sure to excel in this capacity due to her substantial industry network, built up over many years. She is a passionate and committed member of the hospitality and tourism industry. In 2018 she was elected to the Western Cape Board of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) and is proud to hold the role of Africa liaison for The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA).

The Liz McGrath Collection looks forward to enhancing and leveraging her experience and relationships in order to stay relevant in the fast-changing landscape of the tourism Industry.


Robert Nienaber | Entrepreneur | The Nienaber Group

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If you were ever in any doubt, Robert Nienaber of the RN Group will set your mind at rest that entrepreneurship – on any scale – requires incredible quantities of energy, positivity and networking ability. 

Born, bred and schooled in Namibia, before completing his tertiary studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Robert soon got stuck into a career in the burgeoning field of online travel marketing. First up, he worked his way through the ranks at Arebbusch Travel Lodge, Windhoek, until he was appointed head of the Lodge’s marketing department. Some years later, he decided to venture out with his own long-researched initiative, opening up Suiteres with partners Vanessa Rogers and Ivo Kittel, to offer channel management and a range of other specialised online marketing services to regional hoteliers and their accommodation establishments.

Of the launch of Suiteres, Robert says: “The company was born out of three core beliefs. Firstly, that tourism aids the world’s striving towards a global village; secondly, that the connectivity provided by technology should not be underestimated in much of the global progress the world seeks; and, thirdly, that it is time for hoteliers everywhere to take their own back – especially when it comes to the ‘rates wars’.”

Lacking a comprehensive avenue to read about and post news on Africa’s vibrant hospitality sector, and having come across many tourism players who were lamenting the very same thing, Robert next set about launching African Hospitality News. But, as demand grew, he and his team quickly realised there was not only a demand for news on the hospitality sector in Africa, but in fact a demand for news on all its economic sectors. “So we upgraded our offering to My African News, a comprehensive portal that provides updates on happenings throughout the continent, as well as those that might affect Africa, be of interest to people living here, or newsworthy for those living elsewhere but who are interested in happenings here. We have taken a highly inclusive approach,” he enthuses.

Next up, Africa Travel Guide was born, due to Robert’s belief in the positive benefits of tourism, but also because the industry is typically viewed from a country-specific angle. “The time has actually come for us to move past this and rather see tourism from a regional, even continental, perspective,” he explains.

And then, to organise these brands and businesses – along with a few others that are in the planning stages – Robert launched the RN Group. While Suiteres will focus primarily on hospitality, RN Travel will offer travel services and products, RN Fashion will represent the modelling and couture niche, and RN Marketing Agency all the others.

“Despite this growth into other sectors and markets,” explains Robert, “I remain vested in the industry I started off in; it will always be my number one focus. This is because tourism in Africa fosters understanding and closeness between otherwise divergent people, creates jobs that educate and alleviate poverty, brings ideas home from other parts of the world, nurtures entrepreneurship and, most importantly, helps to conserve the exquisite and unique natural wonders around us.”

Robert does not take many of accolades for his success personally but rather credits it to “the amazing individuals around him”. “With this team,” he concludes, “there are certainly exciting times ahead.”

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Carly de Jong | General Manager Park Inn By Radisson | Interview November 2018

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Carly de Jong is not just one of the top female general managers in South Africa, she is also passionate about the industry at large which includes furthering her own personal travel experiences here and overseas. Here, Carly chats about her career background, empowering youth and female industry members, and the incredible opportunities for deaf employees at Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands.

Tell us a bit about your background, in terms of what you believe has led you to where you are today?

After studying PR and business communication at Damelin College, I moved to London where, in 1999, I took a position at the front desk of a corporate hotel. After a series of promotions, I decided to return to South Africa. Here, my first job was Service Manager at the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront starting in 2003; this being the Group’s flagship hotel in Africa.

Thereafter I joined The Bay Hotel (Camps Bay) as an Assistant Front Office Manager, followed by eight years at the Southern Sun Cape Sun. At the latter, I advanced from Front Office Manager to Rooms Division Manager.

In 2014 I returned to Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, where I found the company had progressed greatly in its efforts to support and advance female employees. More than half of the executive team was female by then. Today, the Radisson Hotel Group is known to embrace gender equality and diversity, and supports these goals through numerous activities and initiatives.

In August 2018 I joined Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands, where the suburban setting allows staff more creative licence in the way they go about providing a relaxed guest environment. The inclusion of our Deaf staff brings a different element to our team at Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands.

What would you list as your particular life passion/s?

Travel is a particular passion of mine; I make a point of visiting a new country as often as I can. You gain perspective when experiencing different cultures and countries and take on the energy of cities like London, Amsterdam and Paris. But I’m also in awe of the landscapes and slower pace of life in countries like Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Indonesia.

What notable initiatives for the deaf do you have on the go at Park Inn By Radisson Cape Town Newlands? Is it true that September was nicknamed #Signtember by your staff?

Yes, that’s correct! Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands is an advocate of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing. Currently, the Deaf Federation of South Africa (Deaf SA) owns 51% of Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands, which in turn offers support, career prospects and employment to the Deaf. Nineteen percent of our staff, across all hotel departments, are deaf or hard of hearing.

What tips would you give to other employers in South and southern Africa, about accommodating the deaf and the hard-of-hearing in the workplace?

I would recommend partnering with an organisation such as Deaf SA, because it has a database of active deaf and hard-of-hearing job seekers. This organisation also provides access to sign language interpreters, who are definitely advisable when conveying important messages to the teams. Further to this, it is advisable to ensure that deaf staff are easily identifiable to customers, and like any other staff member, to ensure they have the necessary skills and tools to do their jobs effectively.

Communication with deaf employees has been easier than I expected. We communicate with body language, gestures, lip reading and, more importantly, a willingness to learn basic sign language.

What does it mean to you, in a country where less than 44% of the skilled workforce is female (i.e. a manager, professional or technicians), to have reached this significant career goal?

In the hotel industry, as in many others, the ratio of female to male senior leaders remains skewed. This is, however, changing and has become more evident in the last 10 years. To me, reaching this goal has meant that hard work and determination really does pay off.

Not just that, but any situation I found challenged in and which stretched my capabilities, I embraced – and this philosophy has made me the leader I am today.

This point in my career is, by no means, the end of the challenging situations; on the contrary, reaching this significant goal has placed me on another steep learning curve but one that I welcome.

Do you have any future goals in mind?

I take a great deal of pride in seeing women we employ climb the ranks in the hotel industry. As the General Manager of Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands, my goal is to help other hotel employees achieve their career goals as I continue to grow in my new role. I look to continually build and grow the team within the hotel, so that they are able to realise what their own career path may look like.

What qualities do you think women bring to the overall hospitality sector, which is obviously an important one as it contributed R412.2bn (9.4% of GDP) to the country during 2017?

In the hospitality sector, everyone is a host and ambassador for our country. It is how we welcome our visitors, take care of them during their stay and communicate with them that imparts on the visitor who we are as a nation. I think women play a special role as leaders, hosts, hoteliers, tour guides, drivers, security guards – whichever role we find ourselves fulfilling, we by nature as a gender tend to actively seek to learn and improve throughout our careers.

Women are known to communicate more effectively and can possess a greater attention to detail, which all impacts on a visitor’s experience. While the same can be said for many of the men in our sector, these qualities – I find – come more naturally to women.

What sort of management style, in your opinion, is most empowering for young members of the industry? Do you employ this management style with ease?

When working in hotels, you will come to understand that no two days are the same and it pivots between fast pace, high adrenaline, high volume, to slower more orderly times when teams have opportunities to catch up and regroup. My management style depends on the environment, as this is constantly changing with many variables at play. However, the appropriate management style to adopt when working with young members is a more consultative approach. It is important to give them the platform to share and test out their decisions and ideas.

Have you heard of the Direct Booking Summit, and is it an event you would like to attend – either here or overseas? I ask due to the industry’s recent trend towards boosting their direct bookings – rather than relying so heftily on OTAs.

I think attending any summit of this nature would be beneficial. We could gain valuable insight into how other sectors are moving away from an over-reliance on OTAs. The benefits, more than just the cost factor, are the brand loyalty and repeat customers an accommodation establishment would gain.

What gender-equality initiatives in place at Park Inn By Radisson Cape Town Newlands are you most passionate about? Are there any others you’d still like to implement?

Women in Leadership is a clear strategy adopted by our company and one example of this is the STEPS programme. It consists of workshops aimed at potential female managers, to help them build new skills and an awareness of their talents, passions and capabilities. Additionally, it emphasises growth paths, opportunities, work/life balance, career management and impactful communication. In our hotel, I have promoted a female staff member to Head of Security, which is traditionally a male position. Then, there is a trend within our company towards promoting more females into top chef positions – a move I support and would like to implement at Park Inn By Radisson Cape Town Newlands.


This interview is an RN Media exclusive. All rights reserved. Interviewer: Vanessa Rogers.