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Extrabold: Xander Nijnens

A hospitality management company shows how it’s done with lessons from a successful 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Juliet Pitman



Xander Nijnens

While the 2010 FIFA World Cup was unquestionably a coup for the country, it fell short of expectations in certain business sectors, hospitality not least among them.

Many disappointed home-owners, guest houses and hoteliers who had hoped to cash in on the influx of international tourists – and earn what must be said were massively inflated fees in some instances – were left with empty beds and empty pockets, and nothing much to show for the capital investment made in the run-up to World Cup fever.

But there were those in the industry who triumphed, and a great deal can be learned from how they did it. Extrabold is one such example. Its experience of a successful World Cup is largely a lesson in meticulous planning, sticking to what you do best and the importance of establishing mutually beneficial partnerships.

A specialised model

A dedicated and specialised hotel management company, Extrabold is somewhat unique in the local hospitality industry in that it focuses solely on the strategic management and operations of a variety of different hotel and resort brands.

“The traditional model is for one company to own, manage and market one or a group of hotels. However, best international practice is moving more towards a model like ours that splits these different areas of responsibility, so you have a different hotel owner, hotel operator and hotel branding company,” says Xander Nijnens, managing director of Extrabold, adding, “When it comes to managing a diverse portfolio of properties one size certainly does not fit all and this model takes that into account.”

Building on relationships

The company manages a portfolio of nine hotels across a wide range of brands. And while Nijnens admits that the hotels located in non-core World Cup cities experienced varying rates of success, the company’s three large properties enjoyed 100% occupancy for the duration of the competition.

Relationships were unquestionably a key success factor in this regard. “We were successful in securing large pre-committed and guaranteed accommodation through our relationships with tour operators,” Nijnens explains.

These deals, sealed in 2008, negotiated that there would be no release of room stock. In other words, rooms booked were guaranteed to be paid for. This protected Extrabold’s properties from the problems many other operators experienced when rooms that couldn’t be filled by their partners were released back to the establishments, frequently too late in the day to be filled by the hotels themselves.

Extrabold was obviously in a strong enough position to negotiate deals of this nature, no doubt thanks in part to the long-term relationships it had with tour operators. But Nijnens also points out that cost played an important role. “We were careful not to get greedy, and we negotiated reasonable rates,” he says.

Spot-on planning, logistics and training

While catering to the needs of international and VIP visitors is very much part of Extrabold’s core business, planning for the World Cup called for extra attention. “We were dealing with the very specific needs of different clients, and to cater to each of these effectively, we developed an operation plan for every single day of the World Cup.

This meant every person involved knew what was required of them at any given point,” says Nijnens. Many VIP client-specific needs related to security and the company implemented specific security protocols to deal with this important issue.

Extrabold also had the forethought to negotiate with suppliers up-front. “One can never be sure how supply and logistics issues will play themselves out during a big event like this, or whether suppliers will hike up their prices during peak demand periods.

To mitigate against this risk, we got commitments from our suppliers up-front on price and to secure supply,” Nijnens explains. Finally, the company invested in additional staff training, as Nijnens outlines: “Our staff are trained to deal with international and VIP guests as a matter of course, but we needed to train the additional casual staff required, and we also ran training to familiarise our staff with the brands and companies we were hosting.

This empowered them to respond to guests’ needs in a more personalised way, and from an informed position.” By tapping into their staff’s natural enthusiasm for the World Cup and willingness to engage visitors on local topics, Extrabold was able to provide guests with a richer and more authentic South African experience.

Sharing lessons

Nijnens strongly believes that the World Cup will continue to benefit the South African tourism industry long after visitors have left. “If nothing else, it has allowed the country to showcase its tourism gems and undo the negative perceptions that many foreigners held about South Africa.”

He concludes by offering insight into his formula for success in what is a highly competitive industry: “Consistently deliver an excellent experience to guests. Recruit, recognise, develop and nurture the talent you bring into your organisation – they are responsible for delivering that experience. And when you are doing your numbers, make sure you can afford to put an experienced and expert management team in place.”

Player: Xander Nijnens
Est: 2001
Contact: +27 11 994 6350


25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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