Strategy consulting: CSI leverage strategy for Tsogo Sun Book-a-Guesthouse
Corporate social investment (CSI) is a vital response to South Africa’s socio-economic development imperatives and enables corporates to make a contribution towards the upliftment and empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities. Meaningful CSI goes beyond the mere donation of funds – it requires commitment at various levels to provide real solutions for sustainable transformation of beneficiaries.
Established more than four decades ago as Southern Sun Hotels, Tsogo Sun at the time was the leading hotel and gaming group in South Africa, providing world-class accommodation across all hospitality markets. Tsogo Sun was wholly owned by the listed entity Tsogo Sun Holdings (TSH). It had more than 100 hotels throughout Africa, the Middle East and in the Seychelles, as well as a variety of gaming, entertainment and tourism interests.
The challenge at hand
In 2004, Southern Sun approached Stone to assist them with building their CSI profile and designing a CSI programme in line with the organisation’s values that would enable enterprise development and make a sustainable contribution to empower previously disadvantaged communities. Willem Eksteen, Stone CEO, was a founder of the programme as part of a previous company and the partnership not only continued, but also grew when he started Stone.
Stone’s approach to meeting the need
From the outset, the Southern Sun Book-a-Guesthouse programme (now the Tsogo Sun Book-a-Guesthouse programme) was aimed at providing assistance to and empowering women entrepreneurs in South Africa to own and maintain their own guesthouses or Bed & Breakfast operations. Stone was the strategy and communication partner and supported the initiative with strategy and branding consultation services. Stone led a formal strategy development process applying its Pebble Ring Thinking© methodology.
One of the first steps was to clearly define the mission and vision, objectives and goals of the initiative to ensure that all future processes and activity were aligned to these imperatives. The team also conducted extensive research to understand the context within which the programme would operate and this helped to map the relevant target audiences and stakeholders for influence, growth and effectiveness. Stone developed a fully-integrated business and marketing communication strategy and an implementation plan. The plan mapped the direction, as well as the activities that should be undertaken to effectively build and grow the Southern Sun Book-a-Guesthouse programme.
Results achieved and value added for Tsogo Sun Book-A-Guesthouse
The Southern Sun Book-a-Guesthouse enterprise development project launched successfully in 2005, with five pilot guesthouses. The project aimed to empower, train and mentor women in Soweto, who had expressed the desire to have their own guesthouses. Since then the programme has grown by leaps and bounds to become Tsogo Sun’s flagship enterprise development project. Recently, in line with the renaming of Southern Sun to Tsogo Sun, the programme was renamed to follow the brand of the title partner. Today the programme supports 68 independently owned guesthouses to run successful tourism businesses. It provides a fully functional and powerful online search platform that actively drives business to the guesthouses owned by previously disadvantaged South African black men and women. All the guesthouse owners comply with pre-determined criteria and sign a memorandum of understanding, pledging to the quality and reporting standards of the programme. The guesthouses receive full support, mentorship and training on an on-going basis.
Stone is proud to be a partner in the programme and will continue to contribute significantly with strategy development, training, marketing and leveraging of the programme.