Empowering African Businesses

Hotels, car-hire firms cash in on UNCTAD

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By Steve Umidha

Businesses are positively salivating at the prospect of making extra earnings from the one-week long UNCTAD convention – which is offering tantalizing taste of opportunities for hotels and car rental firms who are tagging along.

UNCTAD is set to conclude on Friday and will bring together Heads of State and Government, ministers and other global business leaders, civil society and academia to tackle global trade and economic development issues.

A spot check conducted over the weekend by this writer found that most hotels in Nairobi are at about 80 per cent occupancy in anticipation of the global forum which officially starts today – that’s up 40 per cent over the same period last year.

The demand for hotel rooms has been rising since Friday with hoteliers stepping up efforts to cash in on UNCTAD previously hosted by Kenya in May 1976.

Pride Inn hotels, a 3-star chain of hotels are booked to near capacity ahead of the conference.

“The demand is great obviously from the number of delegates coming in and we are having a bit of yield management (to mean pricing accordingly), and right now we are not offering discounts as a result. We only have a couple of rooms left for our regular corporate,” says the Group chief executive of Pride Inn hotels Hasnain Noorani.

“We are sold out and will be doing 100 per cent on Monday and Tuesday. Currently we are doing normal rates,” said a representative from Sankara Hotel, a 5-star hotel in Westlands who did not want to be mentioned.

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He however said a few rooms are being held open for transient clients. The hotel’s capacity is 156.

The visitors are willing to stay in the area and travel just a few minutes to the venue (KICC), according to a spokesperson at Hilton hotel, a 4-star hotel in Nairobi’s CBD.

The rush is on for car hire operators like Abba Tours and Car Hire Company as well, who says despite the opportunity, they feel shortchanged from the deal since several firms are in the business of ‘subletting.’

“The charges are not quite friendly from the one who was offering me the deal, like for a Prado they were paying me Sh10, 000 and Mercedes C-class for Sh12, 000. They are broking so much. Jumeirah has been given the transport contract from the ministry of Foreign Affairs which it is subletting to other companies,” said the firm’s representative Daniel Rurua.

Another car hire firm, Glory Tours & Safaris says it targets to make good returns from delegates attending the conference.

“There’s increased demand in car rental business. Some of these delegates are not only here to attend UNCTAD but have others businesses they would conduct so they need private cars to ferry them around. The demand is approximately 80 per cent for car rentals,” said the firm’s managing director Hasnain Noorani.

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