Tourism is big business in Zimbabwe. We’ve always celebrated international tourism trends have lately started to focus more on domestic tourism. Whichever way you look at it, accommodation is a cornerstone of the industry and there are many options out there. The bed and breakfast or guesthouse type of accommodation is one such option. If you’re interested in getting into the business here’s a quick guide on requirements for the business.
Seems a little obvious you will need premises but this is not limited to property owners. You can rent/lease premises for the purpose of a guesthouse. This may seem a little daunting but for a person who has one or two running and wants to expand this is the best way to expand.
You’ll need to figure out your unique selling proposition and design the place according to this. Whether it’s for weekend getaways or business meetings you will need to make sure the look matches the desired clientele. You will also need to consider accessibility options for the disabled.
After considering the use case and designing towards it you will need to consider the facilities you will offer and how they match client needs. Items such as pay TV, internet access and tourism-related activities such as spa & massage providers. You can outsource or offer in house, this is entirely dependent on the arrangements you can make. What’s important is to provide client needs in a cost-effective manner.
Marketing and advertising
In addition to listing with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (more on this later), there are various marketing and advertising platforms available. Depending on what you offer services such as Trip Advisor and our own AccoLeisure come in handy in getting your name out there. Internet and social media presence are absolutely essential. The market tends to be information heavy and having as much information about yourself available online is key. Also, services such as Trip Advisor and Booking.com are online based so having an online footprint is essential to get the most out of these services. Your marketing and sales plans should always be cognizant of payment methods and platforms. Understanding your target market and its segments will help you understand where to direct your marketing and selling messages and how to do so to get the best mileage.
This is where it gets heavy. I already mentioned listing with the ZTA. The process is actually registering with ZTA as an authorized accommodation provider. The list of requirements is cumbersome. It includes;
General Requirements (All Categories)
- Bank Statement / Letter from Bank
- Public Liability Insurance (Minimum $5000 USD)
- Brochure/ Promotional Material
- Copy of Certificate of Incorporation (where applicable)
- CR 14 (where applicable)
- Certified Copy of Balance Sheet/ Statement of Capital (where applicable)
- Value of Investment (where applicable)
- Copy ID of directors (where applicable)
- Photos of the premises
- Details of provision for disabled ( where applicable)
- City Council/ Rural District Council licence
- Photos (Kitchen, Bedroom, Lounge, Bathroom, Garden)
There’s clearly a lot to consider. Public liability insurance covers your business in the event of occurrences that cause injury or harm to anyone while on the premises. The guidelines from the ZTA also lean towards incorporated entities so incorporating is the way to go for this line of business. It also simplifies the legal relationships the business will have in terms of leasing property and other contractual arrangements.
Staffing is an issue you will need to be smart with. The business is characterized by vacancy periods. If you’ve set yourself up as a weekend getaway spot, chances are midweek may be quiet for you. There are also seasonal issues to consider in the tourism industry. You will not staff every day and on the days that you do need them, you may not need all the staff. So outsourcing and flexible arrangements really come into play here. Consider this for cooking, cleaning, services such as shuttles, massage, and therapy. Gardening and maintenance may be arranged on a regular basis.
The industry is open but there’s a lot of competition out there. Specialized packages to cater for key market segments are the best opportunity to carve out a niche for yourself.