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Lego opens in SA

The Great Yellow Brick Co has opened the first LEGO Certified Store in South Africa. Doors to the brightly coloured shop in Sandton City are now open for fans, collectors and consumers who are yet to discover the delight of the versatile bricks.

While LEGO products are available at independent toy retailers elsewhere in South Africa, The Great Yellow Brick Co’s shop is the first LEGO Certified Store in the country and will stock and display a variety of LEGO options, exciting installations, exclusive and extended sets, and experiences not yet seen in South Africa.

The store will include these signature features:

  • Pick A Brick Wall – a custom-built fixture with round canisters, each filled with an assortment of LEGO bricks and elements that consumers can purchase in set priced cups or by weight
  • Build a Minifigure Station – guests to the store can customise up to three minifigures from a large variety of parts and accessories.
  • A mosaic of the Big 5 and a 3D model of the Johannesburg skyline designed and built out of LEGO bricks exclusively for the Sandton store.

Special build areas will encourage fans to unleash their imaginations, while augmented reality screens will help shoppers visualise the contents of box sets, in 3D, before they purchase.

“The Great Yellow Brick Co‘s Sandton City shop will offer limited and special edition LEGO sets at the same time that they’re launched internationally, meaning that consumers no longer have to wait for months to buy them, or hunt them down online,” says co-founder Robert Greenstein.

“For example, we’re opening with the new Bugatti Chiron set, a magnificent working roller coaster, the Disney Castle, the Star Wars Y-Wing and the Hulk Buster, and collectors that have been hunting for the Star Wars Millennium Falcon need look no further…”

The Great Yellow Brick Co has also extended its offering online giving consumers access to the most extensive LEGO range available in the region, offering all the convenience of online shopping as well as a click and collect service should customers prefer.

The store’s Brick Rewards loyalty programme will see customers earn points back based on their spend, with points translating into monetary savings on future purchases, while exclusive gifts with purchase not available anywhere else will also be available from time to time.

“LEGO bricks are so much more than just toys or collector’s items – playing and building with them promotes the development of fine motor skills, encourages team work, and improves creativity,” Greenstein explains.

“Building sets or creating their own masterpieces teaches problem-solving skills to children, and improves their communication skills too,” he adds. “It also develops persistence, lateral thinking and planning skills, and placing that final brick into a creation boosts a child’s self-esteem – something that’s clearly evident in the broad smiles that are sure to happen at about the same time!”

The 179m2 Sandton City store is close to Sandton City’s Fun District, a level dedicated to family entertainment, and it significantly enhances the centre’s offering for children.

“South Africans have a decades-long love for LEGO sets and products, from children who follow instructions to build sets before they can read, to adults who will go to extraordinary lengths to complete their themed collections,” says Kristian Imhof, Country Manager for The LEGO Group in South Africa. “There are also many South Africans who have never been exposed to its possibilities, and we are looking forward to introducing them to the limitless ways they can play with, build and collect LEGO bricks and sets.”

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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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