By Aklile Tsige /ABN/
Much-trumpeted that Ethiopia is blessed with immense historical, cultural and natural resources that attract tourists worldwide. Nevertheless, the effort to tap its rich tourism resources remains lamentable. Many argue that little attempts have been made to promote the nation’s tourism activities at the national and international levels, and new trends for the development of the industry are not well introduced in the country. The Meetings, Incentives, Conference, and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism has not been paid due attention, unlike leisure tourism. Yet, for KumnegerTeketel, the nation could lure multiple benefits with a closer understanding and support of the industry.
KumnegerTeketel W/Gabriel, who has earned MBA in International Business, and LLB, in Finance, is Managing Director and Lead Consultant of OZZIE Business & Hospitality Consultancy and International Events Company. It’s an Ethiopian Headquartered Company in Hotel & Tourism sector that exclusively hosts Hotel Show Africa- Hospitality Investment Trade fair and MICE East Africa- Meetings Industry/Travel Industry. ABN Editor-In-Chief, Aklile Tsige had the opportunity to sit down with the company’s Managing Director and discuss the overall activities of Ozzie and the new concept-MICE. Kumnegeralso received Award Winner of African Legend of Travel Award 2018, and MICE ICON Award 2017.
ABN: Tell us a little bit about your company.
Kumneger: Ozzie Business and Hospitality Group is one of the leading Ethiopian-based business companies that specialize in Consultancy and Management services of hospitality and tourism businesses. It provides detailed and tailor-made consultancy and management services as well as creating international standard events as a platform to share with global players.
Established eight years ago, the company has worked in various capacities, including development of dozens of star rated hotel and resort projects, international brand negotiation and representation, international procurement and hotel operation startups. Ozzie Business and Hospitality Group portfolio also incorporates the management and organization of international standard events of various kinds.
ABN: So far you have organized six Hotel Show Africa-Hospitality and Trade Shows; how were these shows conducted, and how did you find it?
Kumneger: Of course, Ozzie Business and Hospitality Group is the founder and organizer of Hotel Show Africa-Hospitality and Tourism Trade Show: the first and only such trade show in the country. The previous shows have attracted an impressive participant and attendee list of well-known global brands represented by local, regional and international companies and professionals from all over the world besides meeting its objective. This dynamic event has continued to set new targets and inspire industry players to upgrade their overall performance to bring about a tangible change in the development of the national and continental tourism service and hospitality industry.
ABN: What activities are carried out in a single show?
Kumneger: There are various activities included in an event, mainly exhibition of the latest Hospitality products and services, several panel discussions on selected industry agendas, professional competitions and recognition as well as networking and creation of business opportunities.
ABN: What’re the participating parties in this grand show?
Kumneger: Hotel operating equipment suppliers, hospitality IT solution providers and suppliers, hotel/hospitality hygiene partners, hotels and resorts, tourist destination management technology providers and operators, hospitality food and beverage suppliers, hotel architects and consultants/interior designers, and airlines management service providers and consultants are among the major stakeholders participating in the event.
ABN: What benefits do visitors, exhibitors or the nation gain from the event?
Kumneger: Participating in the event has many advantages, mainly it reinforces brand awareness and enhances the country’s image, it helps create networking with industry leaders, it helps generate new business lead, and strength the existing customer relationship.
ABN: How about the number of visitors and exhibitors in the show?
Kumneger: The number, indeed, is increasing annually. For instance, every year an estimated 15, 000 visitors show up while nearly 200 exhibitors with over 300 brand representation participate at the Millennium Hall in the capital, Addis Ababa.
ABN: What is the concept of MICE?
Kumneger: Though the hospitality industry has taken a new dimension ahead, we are a bit lagging behind from celebration of its full advantages. African economies are already dragged to the global investment map, and also adding continental voice in global issues. This globally trending shift has added a new industry frontier to the existing leisure tourism. MICE are the new tourism concept arrived in our modern times. At this particular era, the hospitality industry has reached a new height where it can yield much more to economies. Therefore, MICE which is complementary to conventional leisure tourism is a growing industry with promising opportunities to our nation and the continent.
ABN: What are you doing to introduce the industry to the nation and the region?
Kumneger: It is six years since Ozzie Business and Hospitality Group, as an industry player, advocating a flexible turn to the utmost exploitation of MICE industry. It is with such a great pleasure that we pioneered in organizing MICE East Africa editions. MICE’s industry concept has already touched the ground.
ABN: Is the industry booming?
Kumneger: yes, indeed. We witness an era when spending capacity drive markets and the service sector, particularly the hospitality industry is contributing hugely to economies. The industry revenues will increase exponentially in years ahead, coupled with government’s efforts in attracting international investors in global value chains.
MICE evolved to selling hospitality services by capturing delegates arriving for international businesses, conferences and exhibitions. By adopting global MICE business strategies that extract available potential, industry professionals plan on how to increase tourists staying time at pre- and post- events.
ABN: What’re the potential benefits that could be earned from MICE?
Kumneger: Meeting and conference tourists increased to five times more than leisure travelers as they’re sponsored by their companies during their stay unlike leisure tourists who need to pay for themselves. According to some researches, the spending power difference stood around 500 percent to 600 percent, which falls between USD 100 to USD 600 difference.
MICE, simply speaking, diversify the tourism sector, build country’s image, attract investors, and create ample opportunity for the domestic private sector. It also benefits airlines, hotels, conference venues, car rentals, event organizers, banks, interpreters, booth owners, tour operators, catering companies, tourism and travel consultants and many more.
ABN: What do you think should be done to unleash the immense potential in the sector?
Kumneger: Quick action on the understanding of the MICE concept, creating institutions and platforms for better exposure and attraction of MICE, developing hospitality facilities that fit for international events, providing incentives for industry players, and investing in higher education institutions for training and human capital development of the MICE industry are the most important tasks that should be given due emphasis. Lack of National Convention Bureau is the main drawback in the meeting sector. This bureau is an independent institution vital to rebrand and sell Ethiopia’s image in the meeting sector, So the concerned government organ needs to establish this unit as much as possible, and show its commitment to enhancing the economic benefit the country obtains from the sector.
ABN: Who are MICE industry players, and how is their participation?
Kumneger: hotels, airlines, exhibition centers, catering and logistics companies, travel industry suppliers, advertising and marketing agencies, professional event/exhibition organizers, contractors, convention centers, professional conference/convention organizers. Like the Hotel Show the number of participants in MICE is growing. Over 110 exhibitors and 3000 visitors take part in the event every year. It’s expected to generate country’s revenue approximately 20 million USD from invited buyers, and expand opportunities for the nation through foreign meetings industry business/ NICE industry.
ABN: I think you are working on End-To-End hotel project consultancy; what’s it about?
Kumneger: It deals with consultancy and management services in the development of hotel projects particularly in star rated hotel projects; this include hotel feasibility study, hotel design concept development, evaluation and review, hotel construction supervision, international hotel brand negotiation, hospitality service quality audit, hotel operation system development and implementation.
ABN: Can you mention some of the hotel consultancy projects you have undertaken?
Kumneger: In the last few years we’ve worked with more than 30 local and international brand hotel and resort projects at various levels. To mention some: Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Addis Ababa, Four Points by Sheraton, Radisson Blu Bishoftu Conference and Wellness Destination, Movenpick Hotel Addis Ababa, Royal Tulip Hotel, Addis Ababa, Bon Hotel Addis Ababa, Capital Hotel and Spa, Golden Tulip Hotel Adama and Axum Yeha International Hotel Conference and Health destination Resort. There are also significant numbers of similar projects underway.
ABN:What social responsibilities has Ozzie carried out?
Kumneger; Ozzie is dedicated to help the less fortunate members of the society and take care of the nation’s natural blessings. In this regard, we’ve managed to create environmental awareness among the business community through organizing hotels and resorts competitions in eco-friendly planning and construction. Furthermore, we have participated in a local NGO working on providing basic care for street children and senior citizens.