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

Business Day - Home Front - - HOMEFRONT - Cor­po­rate Trav­eller GM

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.

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