Seychelles islands are lacking good 3 to 4 stars hotels
Guillaume Albert in his office at CTS headquarters, Victoria (Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles News Agency presents an op-ed article by Guillame Albert, General Manager of Creole Travel Services, one of the largest tour operators in the Seychelles islands, which in March won a Kuoni travel award for best Destination Management Company.
The Albert family has been established in the Seychelles for many generations, becoming well-known in several business sectors from agriculture (distillation and exporting of exotic essence) to building and construction. With our entry into the tourism sector in 1998, we created a range of products and services which would always reflect our heritage; the uniqueness and authenticity of our Creole culture, with an emphasis on personalised service. Those business ventures logically had be innovative and had to contribute directly to the tourism industry’s needs within the Seychelles context.
We had a clear advantage for the expert knowledge of the culture and business environment, and also a vision for developing new markets. We chose to promote the ‘Creole’ brand as a unique selling point, because we realised that Seychelles is not just about selling holidays to a beautiful beach, but also islands where creole culture will attract visitors who wish to see what life is like where people from different races and cultures have blended in a melting pot of harmonious island living. CTS identified many ways in which we could contribute to the development of the country’s tourism in the areas of tour services, transport and accommodation. Due to the small size of the population and reliance on importing goods, the costs of operations in Seychelles are higher than in other destinations, but despite the initial high costs of setting up hotels or services, the return on investments are good once a solid reputation is established.
Times have changed in the world’s hospitality industry. Most establishments are now linked to online booking systems, and internet marketing has become vital to every businesses. Customers today are looking for convenience when purchasing (speed of service and best price) and have growing expectations when it comes to value for money. It is within this ever-evolving world that the Seychelles strives to remain seen as an unspoilt, first choice exotic destination, seemingly unaffected by the effects of globalisation, yet easily accessible by a variety of airlines and well-advised tour operators, as well as adaptable to various budgets and customer needs.
What also makes the Seychelles stand out from the rest of the tropical islands of the Indian Ocean and the world, is the unique and unparalleled biodiversity spread across its islands. Each island is a natural wonder with an identity of its own, and for this reason it is true to say they are truly one of the last paradises on earth.
While the traditional tourism markets of France, Germany, Italy and the UK continue to be important to us, we are seeing a steady growth in new markets such as China, South-Korea, the Middle East and Russia. With these new language speakers, we have also adapted ours services and tailored products to their needs. Seychelles has also welcomed in recent years the opening of international hotel brands such as Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, Hilton Seychelles, Raffles Praslin Resort, Banyan Tree Seychelles, and Kempinski Resort Seychelles.
The brand recognition and customer loyalty that comes with these has been very positive for the destination. Also with the increase in the bed capacity, we are able to offer a wider range of products, as well as benefitting from the modern savoir-faire which clients have come to expect from well-known brands. This has brought a lot of benefits to the Seychellois hospitality scene as it brought inspiration to the local entrepreneurs.
While it is undeniable that these 5 star properties were essential to the growth of the industry, we also need to be mindful of the dangers of over expanding in one single sector, as we find somewhat an imbalance in the selection of properties available, we have excellent 5 star properties, but the Seychelles today are lacking good 3 to 4 stars properties which give value for money and which would exhibit more of local culture, themes and product; a “couleur locale” (local colour) type of concept. We need to attract more of those travellers on medium budgets, and there is room for expansion in this sector for new products and services.
34-year old Guillaume Albert has been general manager of CTS for the last three years, having previously worked overseas in the international banking sector and within CTS as a marketing manager between 2004 and 2010, and subsequently as the Deputy General Manager between 2010 and 2011. He works closely with his father Joseph Albert, who set up the company in 1998 following the acquisition of a then parastatal destination management company TSS.
The CTS group has three primary business activities; tour operator, hotel management and ownership of Fast Ferry services. Creole Travel Services is one of the largest destination management companies in the Seychelles with 290 staff of which 98 per cent are Seychellois nationality, a fleet of 110 vehicles, and 12 boats.It owns Cat Cocos – Inter Island Boats Ltd, whihc is the largest fast ferry fervices between the three main islands boasting three modern vessel with a capacity up to 472 seats incl. open air and business class decks.The groups owns 2 boutique hotels: ‘Le Domaine de l’Orangeraie’ on the island of La Digue and ‘Domaine de la Reserve’ on the island of Praslin.