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Consumers swayed most by device and price

According to recent stats by Phonefinder.co.za, consumers select their phone contracts based more on the devices themselves than on the contract price.

“Upwardly mobile consumers, especially those in the emerging middle class want the latest smartphone technology, but many are not yet able to purchase a device outright,” explains Lance Krom, founder and managing director at Phonefinder. “In these instances, they consider a cell phone contract to be the ideal means to get the phone they want without the capital outlay or traditional financing.”

However, due to increased competition from a broader cellular provider market, which now includes four major players in MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom, and literally thousands of contract options, Krom says that consumers often find it frustrating to compare options and find those that meet their specific needs.

“While this growth has been good for competition, especially with regard to price, buying a cell phone contract can certainly be confusing and complex,” he suggests, “which is why we launched Phonefinder in 2012.”

The website lists all available contract options in a neat, searchable and easy-to-understand manner. “Importantly, we’re unbiased. Visitors to our portal can search every mobile contract deal available based on the type of handset they desire, their preferred network, monthly costs, data bundles and voice minutes, or any combination of these criteria,” continues Krom. “Once they’ve selected their preferred option and submitted their details, a simple click of the ‘call me’ button will result in a service provider calling them back to sign up.”

By providing this service, Phonefinder has gained numerous insights into the buying habits of cell phone contract subscribers. “With over 20,000 inquiries received per month, we’ve been able to establish key trends in the sector,” he states.

According to these stats, when it comes to phone manufacturers, Samsung is the most popular brand, accounting for 47% of phone selected with contracts purchased via Phonefinder.co.za. “The Samsung Galaxy J5 Prime is the current top-seller as it is chosen as the preferred device in 20% of all contracts sold via the website,” adds Krom. The Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime Plus is selected in 6% of deals, ranking it fourth most popular.

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei is currently the second most popular brand, with a 24% share among contracts purchased via Phonefinder. “The Huawei P8 Lite (13%) and Huawei P9 Lite (8%) are the top choices from this brand, in second and third, respectively,” says Krom.

The Apple iPhone 5S (16GB) rounds out the top five smartphone models, according to Phonefinder’s stats, accounting for 5% of sales.

Of secondary importance to the device, but still a major consideration in the final decision, is price and the composition of the package. “Since the coverage of smaller providers has improved, and with the ability to port numbers, consumers now like to hunt for the best deals,” explains Krom. “They’re looking for the most data and minutes at the lowest price, and they aren’t afraid to switch brands to get it.”

According to Phonefinder’s stats, mid-range contracts in the R189pm (24.4%) to R299pm (8.9%) price band are the most popular, with R199pm the second most popular option. “These contracts offer the right balance of affordability and the amount of data and minutes consumers need to make best use of their smartphones,” continues Krom.

And this deal-hunting trend is significant as it’s driving a major shift in the industry, he adds. “Our stats show that the current trend is a shift by consumers from the incumbent operators – MTN and Vodacom – to Cell C and Telkom as these operators are aggressively disrupting the market with value bundle deals and other unique offerings, such as call sharing.”

Phonefinder’s stats reveal that 29.9% of customers are moving from Vodacom to another provider, while 23.8% of MTN contract customers are choosing to change providers via the website. “Telkom appears to be the biggest gainer in this regard, with 42% of contracts selected via Phonefinder.co.za going to this provider,” states Krom.

Cell C is currently the second most popular provider, accounting for 27% of contract deals selected, with MTN in third (12%) and Vodacom in fourth (10%).

“From these figures it is clear that brand loyalty among cell phone contract subscribers is dead. The market has matured and providers are now competing squarely on device, price and added value. This bodes well for consumers as heightened competition leads to more options and cheaper prices, and with a service like Phonefinder at their fingertips, it has never been easier to find the best deal on cell phone contracts,” he says.

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3D printed room-service? Visit the hotel of tomorrow

To mark its 100th birthday, Hilton predicts the trends that will change travel and hospitality in the next 100 years.

Intergalactic getaways, fast-food nutrient pills, 2-3 hour working days and adaptable, personalised rooms that can transport guests everywhere from jungles to mountain ranges. These are some of the predictions for the next 100 years that the Hilton hotel group has put together in celebration of its 100th anniversary.

In a report supported by expert insight from the fields of sustainability, innovation, design, human relations and nutrition, findings reveal the impact of the growing sophistication of technology and climate change on the hotel industry in the future.

Key predictions for the hotel of the future include:

Personalisation is King

  • Technology will allow every space, fitting and furnishing to continuously update to respond to an individual’s real-time needs – the Lobby will conjure up anything from a tranquil spa to a buzzy bar, giving every guest the perfect, personal welcome
  • From temperature and lighting, to entertainment and beyond, microchips under the skin will enable us to wirelessly control the setting around us based on what we need, whenever we need it

The Human Touch

  • In a world filled with Artificial Intelligence, human contact and the personal touch will be more critical and sought after than ever
  • Technology will free up time for hotel staff to focus on what matters most: helping guests to connect with one another and building memorable moments

‘Sustainable Everything’ – The Role of Responsibility

  • Only businesses that are inherently responsible will survive the next century
  • Sustainability will be baked into everything about a hotel’s design – from weather-proofed domes, to buildings made from ocean-dredged plastic
  • Hotels will act as the Town Hall of any community, managing local resources and contributing to the areas they serve with community-tended insect farms and vertical hydroponic crop gardens

Menu Surprises and Personalisation

  • Our diets will include more plant-based recipes and some surprising sources of protein – Beetle Bolognese, Plankton Pies and Seaweed Green Velvet Cake will be menu staples!
  • Decadent 3D-printed dinners and room service will provide unrivalled plate personalisation
  • Chefs will be provided with biometric data for each guest, automatically creating meals based on preferences and nutritional requirements

Futuristic Fitness and Digital Detoxes

  • Outswim a virtual sea turtle in the pool, or challenge yourself to climb the digital face of Mount Everest, your exercise routine will be as unique as you are. What’s more, exercise energy generated from workouts will be used to power the hotel, providing a zero-impact, circular system. Guests could even earn rewards based on reaching workout targets
  • Pick up where you left off with trackable workouts and holographic personal trainers
  • Offline will be the new luxury as we seek to find moments of tech-free time

“Since its inception in 1919, Hilton has pioneered the hospitality industry, introducing first-to-market concepts such as air-conditioning and in-room televisions. Last year, Hilton also became the first hospitality company to set science-based targets to reduce its environmental impact,” said Simon Vincent, EVP & President, EMEA, Hilton. “We enter our second century with the same commitment to innovation, harnessing the power of our people and technology to respond to guest demands. Our research paints an exciting future for the hospitality industry, highlighting the growing importance of human interaction in an increasingly tech-centric world.”

Futurologist Gerd Leonhard said: “In 2119 we will still be searching for unique experiences, but they will be more personalised than ever. As technology shapes our lives we will seek out moments of offline connection with others, including hotel team members who will help us truly get what we need from our stays. 100 years from now hotels will have to create opportunities to converse, collaborate and connect, delivering moments that matter, individually, to each and every guest.”

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Gadget ed to chair Digital Council

Specialist financial services provider Sasfin Bank has established a Digital Advisory Council to provide the market with industry-leading expertise and insights on trends shaping the use of technology in financial services.

Digitalisation is one of the most powerful forces for change shaping Finance today. This has turned Fintech into one of the most vibrant sectors in both information technology and among start-ups, generating billions of dollars in investment and development globally. The South African fintech space is dynamic, and Sasfin is playing a leading role in the transformation of local financial services and the resulting enhancement of customer experiences.

“We have been investing in fintech development in-house and acquiring or integrating fintech start-ups,” says Sasfin CEO Michael Sassoon. “Over the last year we have built further digital offerings, integrated via APIs into leading businesses and invested in fintechs. We built and launched B\\YOND, an innovative digital business banking platform and SWIP, a digital wealth and investing platform. We have invested in Payabill, an online SME lender and DMA, a digital trading platform. We recently announced our alliance banking relationship, leveraging open banking, with Hello Paisa to offer seamless banking to the unbanked. We feel that there is a huge opportunity to improve the experience of South African businesses and savers through using technology. We have therefore created an independent forum to assess how to even better improve financial services for South Africans by leveraging the digital economy.”

Arthur Goldstuck, founder of high-tech research consultancy World Wide Worx, editor-in-chief of Gadget, and a globally respected technology analyst has accepted Sasfin’s invitation to head up the Sasfin Digital Advisory Council, an independent think tank that will help Sasfin and its clients decipher the fintech present and future.

“The Sasfin Digital Advisory Council is broader than providing only the bank with a source of insight on how digital services are evolving and lessons from across the world,” said CEO Michael Sassoon. “Sasfin has been involved in fintech investing for many years and we are leveraging this experience as well as the experience of independent experts such as Arthur to provide insights and guidance to interested stakeholders in this space.”

The team appointed to the Digital Advisory Council is being selected for the breadth and range of knowledge they would bring to the table, with further appointments to the Council being announced soon.  There will also be room for the Council to co-opt specialist expertise as it is required.

Goldstuck, who has been covering the fintech sector as an analyst, commentator and columnist for many years, says he sees the role as a welcome challenge.

“There has been a long-standing need for a clear understanding of the impact being made by fintech today, and the exponential change it will cause tomorrow,” said Goldstuck. “My role will be, partly, to curate the wide spectrum of fintech and digitalisation knowledge and insights that the members will bring to the Digital Advisory Council, and help create scenarios that businesses and policymakers may use to navigate the future – both inside and outside Sasfin.”

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