It’s often said that Johannesburg is the most powerful commercial centre in Africa. A wide range of studies indicate that about 30% of all foreign visitors are from African countries and moreover, a lot of them are in Johannesburg on business. According to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, four of the top five outbound destinations for Johannesburg travellers are within Africa. Windhoek and Nairobi are two of the most popular outbound travel destinations; followed by London, Harare and Luanda.
The attraction to Johannesburg for the African Corporate Traveller is not difficult to understand. The city’s Sandton CBD boasts the biggest Stock Exchange (the JSE) on the continent and is the commercial home to local and international financial institutions. Also, if a global company requires headquarters in Africa, chances are, Johannesburg is the location. The pathology is distinct: the African Business traveller looking to make connections with existing companies, create new partnerships and make an impression, wants to be in the thick of things. The hotel industry has a vital part to play in supporting the African business traveller by being able to provide the facilities they need, close to the commercial hub, with easy access to transport options and airports.
Hotels like The Maslow, Sun International’s recently launched business Hotel in Sandton’s CBD, endeavours to cater to just this market. The hotel has free WiFi and is close to the commercial action, its ethos is primarily about elegant flexibility and caters to a wide range of business needs. With private meeting rooms , an auditorium , a large capacity ballroom and a 24-hour fully equipped business centre, business travellers, often on a tight schedule, don’t have to go far to have their needs met. The Maslow is close to the Gautrain routed to the O.R. Tambo International Airport and given that transport in Johannesburg is a work-in-progress, the Hotel arranges shuttles in the vicinity.
Johannesburg is also a less expensive and more accessible place for people from different African countries to meet up – far more cost effective than London or Europe. Johannesburg is a key location for international conferences, especially given the success South Africa demonstrated with major events such as the FIFA World Cup and the UNCOP Climate Change Conference. With the Sandton Convention Centre , one of the largest capacity venues on the continent just around the corner from The Maslow, it’s yet another reason why Sandton is a natural business destination in Africa.
Studies indicate that African business tourists are amongst the biggest spenders in Johannesburg. The City of Gold has a big restaurant and shopping culture born around its driven commercialism, so the business traveller, often on the hop, doesn’t have too far to go to enjoy excellent cuisine or stake out the latest technology and fashion. The Maslow is right on the doorstep of the well-renowned Sandton City Shopping Centre and close to some of the best restaurants in the country – in fact The Maslow’s Lacuna Bistro is determined to count itself among that number. From this trend, it’s also apparent that the African business tourist is discerning – they want bang for their buck - which means hotels are going to have to ensure that they are delivering the best service, food and accommodation money can buy.