Focusing on needs of the smaller guy
Andrew Stark, GM of Corporate Traveller, a division of Flight Centre South Africa, speaks to HomeFront about the future of corporate travel
Q AHow has the South African business travel market performed over the past year? Travel trends over the past year have seen a strong focus on cost savings which include a move from business to premium economy flights, and from fivestar to three-star accommodation. There has also been a much stricter enforcement of travel policies. In addition we have found that business travellers are focusing on destinations that are closer to home and are also cutting the length of travel. Over the past year customers demanded more bang for their buck, a demand which was accommodated through changing the travel products accordingly and assisting companies maximise their travel spend. How have travel trends changed in light of the economic recession and what changed travel behaviour have you noticed? The corporate traveller market has been surprisingly resilient to addition, pricing of air tickets, accommodation and all travel commodities came down significantly, by as much as 20%. This was a direct result of supply and demand, a trend which has given corporate travellers a better value for money product. This includes benefits of airline price wars, free upgrades, free room nights, particular corporate travel incentives, all of which were based on a slowing in demand. Now that the World Cup is over, how did it impact on travel figures — both flights and accommodation? In terms of availability we found that the demand for rooms and air tickets did not meet the expectations. Prices for air tickets and accommodation also did not rise to the extent that some companies had feared. This means that the affect on business travel was fairly minimal. Certain businesses did reduce their amount of travel during the games but we did not experience a significant drop in business. Where are the most popular destinations (both locally and internationally) for business travellers and have you seen an increase in travel to any destinations? Domestic travel makes up nearly 60% of our business with the UK and African countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya our top international travel destinations. We have seen a big spike in the use of B&Bs as they are more cost effective and provide a home away from home environment for the business traveller. The main hotel chains also remain popular choices. Africa is a big focus and a growing market for many corporate travellers. How did Corporate Traveller cope with the recent volcanic eruptions that caused such disruptions to business travel? What systems are in place to assist travellers with such emergencies? Through our system of internal and external updates all travel managers were kept abreast of the situation and assisted any stranded passengers. Corporate Traveller also offers live updates through our RSS feeds which are sent directly to the traveller who has signed up for this service. Our 24-hour emergency assist line meant that a real person was on the other end of the line to assist passengers. Our experience in dealing with disasters such in the past nine years has given us the necessary tools to help our clients through trying times. Do you have any special offers for business travellers at the moment? Corporate Traveller sells products according to the requirements of our customer needs. Our product range is extensive and can be tailor-made to meet the needs of the traveller. We understand that travelling for business purposes can be stressful therefore bring an expert on board to provide the following array of service: round-the-world airfares, premium airfares, low cost airfares, local and international B&Bs, hotel chains, car hire, visa services, private transfers, charters, couriers, foreign exchange, marine fares, business travel insurance, online travel spend reporting and a dedicated customer relationship manager.
The UK and African countries such as Kenya — its capital Nairobi seen at left — Nigeria, and Ghana — its second city is Kumasi, below — are Corporate Traveller’s top international travel destinations.