Although concrete numbers are hard to come by, South Africa’s multi-million Rand tourism industry is widely acknowledged to be a major source of employment. According to statistics published online by the National Department of Tourism 2012, the government plans to increase tourism’s contribution to R499-billion by 2020. The sector supports one in every 12 jobs in the country.

Much of the success of this industry is dependent on networked systems and technology that help users manage resources effectively and operate competitively to fuel global interest in the country.

Integr8, part of the largest publicly traded ICT company on the African continent, has remained a close ally of those who are tasked with maintaining the highest levels of service and operation across the spectrum of business disciplines that feature within hospitality and tourism.

The company has been selected as the preferred technology services provider to several established operators in the ultra-competitive industry, including Newmark Hotels, part of the Ambassador Group of Hotels.

Integr8 is also the infrastructure management partner of listed Amadeus Southern Africa, a leading transaction processor and provider of technology solutions to the international travel and tourism industry. Integr8 provides ongoing device and network support, proactive monitoring and management.

When Newmark Hotels invested in fibre-optic technology as part of a large-scale inter-site connectivity project across its network, Integr8 was brought on board to supply the infrastructure and support.

“One of the main objectives was to assist our client with the challenge of having to handle recurring costs in order to service all sites independently. We also wanted to speed up Internet connectivity for guests at the hotels providing guests with a superior experience,” explains Lance Fanaroff, joint CEO, Integr8.

Integr8 made use of existing fibre routes already in place throughout the V&A Waterfront in order to connect Newmark Hotels, The V&A Hotel, Dockhouse Boutique Hotel & Spa as well as The Queen Victoria Hotel as part of a single Wide Area Network using fibre optic cabling.

The solution integration and services project has highlighted the mandatory requirement for connectivity at institutions and service providers operating within tourism and hospitality.

“Consumers expect to have access to connectivity and other technology services as part of their travel requirements,” says Fanaroff. “We noticed an upward curve in growth in technology investment from operators in this sector.”

“Front-of-client services and the capacity to deliver connectivity to the end-user, for example, remain critical considerations. But, we are also aware of the increasing need for operators to have their own systems upgraded and strengthened. This applies to a range of infrastructure, including booking systems, intra-and internet and the corporate network,” he continues.

He refers to the company’s decade long relationship with Amadeus Southern Africa as an example.

Integr8 was contacted to assist on a project to migrate the travel company’s largest customer onto its Sales Management Solution. The project required a national upgrade of the Amadeus front-office software and this was the largest rollout Amadeus has implemented on the African continent.

Says Fanaroff, “Our mandate was to remove the existing front-office software, deploy enhanced software, test as well as confirm that the systems were in full working order. We’ve been part of the development and advancement of Amadeus and its infrastructure for many years. We’re very pleased to have been able to continue to provide meaningful, results-driven service and support to our client as well as to the travel sector in which they feature as a respected leader.”

As a result of this partnership, Integr8 has also been instrumental in helping retail travel agency Club Travel with the required level of support for a network-enhancement project.

“The common thread linking our service to the tourism and hospitality industry is the implementation of critical communications infrastructure to keep operators up to date with the changing requirements of the market. We know that cost, access, ease of use and simple management are all part of the overall expectations…we are positioned to add value immediately,” Fanaroff adds.

“We know that travel and tourism is an immensely different environment compared to the past. The role of social networking, Internet access and mobility changed the landscape substantially. If the growth projections are accurate, there is every reason to believe the sector will grow rapidly and technology will remain at the heart of evolution,” he concludes.