Major international hotel brands have opened properties in Africa, as they say they see huge potential on the continent. This is good news for U.S. travelers, who tour operators report tend to favor familiar brands when booking.

"If you look at many of the bookings that the USA market makes online, I would say USA brand preference is a big consideration," said Craig van Rooyen, Tour d'Afrique.  He explained that many have a preferred status or hotel points with a specific chain that can be redeemed to either purchase or upgrade their rooms, and that does play a role in their decision-making when booking a hotel.

Onne Vegter, CEO Wild Wings Safaris, said that for certain U.S. travelers, brand recognition is hugely important, and they prefer to stay with trusted brands that they know. He is quick to add, however, that local brands are doing a splendid job of positioning themselves as trusted brands through building a strong online reputation, not least via the power of social media and review sites such as TripAdvisor.

One of the brands that is accelerating its growth strategy in Africa is Carlson Rezidor. In 2016, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group opened five Radisson Blu properties on the continent: Radisson Blu Hotel Nairobi Upper Hill in Kenya (271 rooms); Radisson Blu Hotel, Marrakech Carre Eden in Morocco (198 rooms); Radisson Blu Residence with 187 luxury hotel apartments in Maputo, Mozambique, the group's first residence concept in Africa; the Radisson Blu Hotel Abidjan Airport Ivory Coast (261 rooms), West Africa's tallest hotel; and Radisson Blu Hotel 2 Fevrier in Lome, Togo (320 rooms).

Wolfgang M. Neumann, president and CEO of the Rezidor Hotel Group, said: "Africa is Rezidor's biggest growth market. Our group's total portfolio comprises 69 hotels in 28 countries, with over 15,000 rooms in operation or under development. Radisson Blu leads the way with more hotel rooms under development than any of the other with 85-plus hotel brands active in Africa today. Our ambition is to be the leading player in the travel and tourism sector across the continent."

Carlson Rezidor has also announced plans for its first Quorvus Collection in Africa, a five-star, 244-room, luxury Emerald Grand Hotel & Spa in Lagos, Nigeria. The group also plans a new Radisson Blu Hotel Harare in Zimbabwe with 245 rooms; a Radisson Blu Hotel in Durban Umhlanga, South Africa, with 207 rooms; and a Park Inn by Radisson in Quatre Bornes, Mauritius.

Marriott International is strengthening its brand in Africa, too, as the group has rebranded the Protea Hotels division that it acquired in 2014. The rebranding to Protea Hotels by Marriott also includes an updated and modernized logo.

"Consumer research conducted in South Africa in 2015 shows that the endorsement of Protea Hotels by a large, international brand company such as Marriott would elevate brand perception and preference, further supporting the strategic move to endorse the brand," said Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director Middle East and Africa, Marriott International.

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