The hotel industry remains a fierce platform for budding entrepreneurs and long-standing corporations. The rise of budget hotels and new business models, like that of Airbnb, have fully disrupted the way in which the sector seeks to attract new customers, whether it be through cost-effective pricing, adrenaline focused activities or the guarantee of timeless experiences.
Providing exceptional services to its guests, Constance Hotels & Resorts oozes luxury. Situated at a number of stunning locations across Africa, the business prides itself on delivering world-class experiences in surroundings of pure beauty, instinctively unlocking the potential of each location.
Responsible for the company’s supply chain operations in the Seychelles, the Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar and Zanzibar, Gilbert Chetty has witnessed the brand’s growing popularity across Africa. With the support of his six-strong team, Chetty strives to procure and deliver goods at the best value in order to fully satisfy the needs of its customers.
“I am lucky to work with such a talented group of people who understand our procurement requirements. We trust our people, treat them as collaborators, and try to apply the values of the company with them. These are generosity, sincerity and to demonstrate excellence, implementing a blend of innovation and creativity,” he says.
Enabling teams in charge of purchasing at specific regions to source the best prices within a particular region, the team works to negotiate the optimum deals with regards to corporate items. For example, by adopting a linen tender, the Group has standardised the bed and bath linen at an agreed price for a specific period of time.
“There are also other group of items that we negotiate for the group. For example, umbrellas, slippers, types of papers to be used for our printings etc.,” notes Chetty.”
“We therefore try to combine both decentralised and centralised purchasing for the advantage of our stakeholders.”
The Group’s enduring ambition to be an essential figurehead for human scale luxury hospitality has factored into its goal to grow from 9 to 20 hotels , whilst ensuring its family spirit remains fully present across its operations. Consequently, the business is set to launch a second brand later this year in the upper-scale segment.
“With expansion of the Group and the creation of this second brand situated in different locations worldwide, our procurement will need to adapt to different culture and laws, analysis of the market and eventually consider new sources,” explains Chetty.
Situated at the business for over ten years, Chetty has been central to the dynamism which runs through the supply chain operation at Constance, where he has sought to maintain and uphold all required processes, adhering to all compliance laws, as well as remaining consistent with ethical, social and environmental standards. His vast expertise has therefore seen its procurement and supply chain operations become fully transformed, particularly as a result of new technologies.
“Technology is now the heart of supply chain management. The business of the industry is problem-solving. New technologies can help personnel to better understand the equipment, manage the decision-making process more efficiently and drive costs down,” he says.
“For example, supply chain networks are built on customer demand and cost optimisation. The usage of analytics helps personnel understand behaviours to react quickly to rebalance inventory and adjust transportation. Supply chain management has therefore evolved into a technology-led, customer-driven industry.
“To take advantage of this shift, the focus can’t be on just the technology. The right talent equips supply chain management companies with the resources they need to fully leverage connected technologies to improve their business processes.”
Harnessing software which will enable the business to utilise multiple foreign currencies, Constance has also adopted cloud technology and blockchain, which will bring the highest degree of accountability to the business.
“There will be no more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved due to the use of blockchain,” he adds.
Dealing directly with suppliers in both local and international markets, the Group has partnered with two renowned forwarders in the importation and exportation of various goods. At each location, the business has also appointed a number of local suppliers to deliver goods to its hotels.
“Our freight forwarders, corporate suppliers in terms of wet and dry amenities can be considered as our main strategic partners,” explains Chetty.
“The wine sellers of France, South Africa & New Zealand can be included, as Constance Hotels and Resorts’ Group has the largest wines cellar in the Indian Ocean, namely at Constance Prince Maurice, situated on the eastern side of Mauritius island.
“Additionally, we have a number of strategic partners who sponsor the MCB Tour Championship, a men’s senior professional golf tournament, who also sponsor each December our annual golf tournament which is held on our Constance Legend course.”
With this in mind, Tyre World has become a key strategic partner for the business, providing tyres and high-quality buggies for its golf courses.
“We have been working with Tyre World for years and have always been satisfied in terms of the products and services offered, mainly after-sales services,” says Chetty.
“The company is always prompted to consider new avenues to improve in terms of products offered, as well as in terms of payments and competitive pricing and sponsoring the different events in our group of hotels.”
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While the supply chain consists of not only sourcing services and products at competitive prices, the Group has worked tirelessly to eradicate child labour from across its supply chain and regularly undertakes audits, surveys and site visits to guarantee all practices are sustainable.
“One of our key challenges is to become a customer of choice for our suppliers, so that even in difficult moments, such as a cyclone, incorrect forecasting, or any other situation which could impact our operations, we are not faced with any kind of shortage and count upon their prompt reaction,” observes Chetty.
“Supplier innovation is more likely if we become a customer of choice. Innovation is a two-way process; however, so we believe that it is not only about writing it in a contract and expecting the best ideas from suppliers. The most successful approach is to abide by agreed payment terms and demonstrate a partnership approach by listening and responding to suppliers’ ideas.
“We want to trust and consider suppliers as a centre of excellence in terms of inventiveness, reactivity or rather proactive in terms of sourcing, proposing alternatives goods which are in lines with the concept and standard of our properties.”
The company’s supply chain team has also focused on the management and operation of its properties in terms of logistics management, as well as inventory management, information technology, procurement and distribution, lean and green supply chain practices.
An authentic passion
Awarded the Green Globe Certificate, the world’s most recognised global certification for sustainable travel and tourism for four consecutive years, the Group’s unwavering commitment to sustainability has increased the its global recognition and attracted new and existing customers.
As it continually reviews and improves its four pillars: environmental, socio-economic balance, quality of service and health and safety, the procurement team at Constance routinely mitigates any potential risks, looking at its suppliers’ financial status, followed by health and safety and industry practices.
“It’s no longer good enough to simply engage with tier-one suppliers. Emphasis needs to be paid to controlling the approach taken with tier-two suppliers, ensuring that the necessary obligations are passed down to subcontractors,” concludes Chetty.
“Our DNA is all about the genuine enthusiasm we have for hospitality; as a matter of fact, it’s where we come from, i.e., our Mauritian heritage. We believe that our passion allows us to create emotions.
“Our personality sets us apart, as our guests like our ‘un bon vivant’ style. People who come as guests leave as friends. This family spirit spreads from our team to our guests, and our attention to them makes them want to come back.
“I sincerely believe that we are changing the nature of relationships in the hospitality market. Our generosity delivers a great return on investment, as treating guests generously repays more in satisfaction, with loyalty then following.”