Are you ready for 2010?

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Soccer fever has gripped the nation, but will we see business travellers trading in their business attire for soccer shirts, face paint, makarapas and vuvuzelas?

The 2010 World Cup, the event that is expected to put South Africa on the map, not only as a prime tourist destination but also as a country to do business with, is only a few months away. Industry pundits agree that business travel is expected to dip during the event, as business travellers will most likely avoid all but essential travel during this period. The expectation is that there will be a spike in the months just before and just after the World Cup.

The impact

In a special information guide compiled by Seekers and American Express Travel to assist its corporate clients in planning their travel during the World Cup, it is stated that many international airlines are already fully booked. Domestic flights into and out of host cities are expected to be overbooked, and huge delays are likely as a result of the high volume of passengers travelling through the relevant airports. As the major hotel brands have contracted their rooms to MATCH, corporate rates won’t be available during the event. There has also been substantial price inflation with some hotels and guesthouses increasing their rates by up to five times their normal rates. Travellers should book far in advance if they require a rental car, as there will be a limited supply. Driving around stadiums, fan parks and other popular tourist areas will be difficult due to congestion and road closures.

Advice for business travellers

Seekers and American Express Travel advise that business trips should be planned in advance, but keep in mind that changes to air tickets during the period will probably not always be possible, and will be expensive. Meetings should be held away from the stadiums and fan parks. If possible, video conferencing or teleconferencing should be considered. Any driving should only be done during ‘off-peak’ times when there are no matches on the go. A fair amount of traffic can be expected on the road to and from the airports, so travellers should allow for two to three hours’ travelling time. Parking at the airports will also be difficult.

How are the TMCs gearing up?

Corporate travel is clearly going to be severely impacted by the event, so travel management companies should be prepared for this unusual and unique situation. Business Traveller asked them how they were preparing for the World Cup and what they were expecting.

Tourvest Travel Services

The Travel Services division of Tourvest focuses on the South African corporate travel market by providing in-house travel management services and operating a number of travel agency brands, including Seekers Travel and American Express Travel Services. Tourvest’s Event Activation Management (TEAM) division is playing a large role in the World Cup through its management of more than 65 000 travellers, most of whom are FIFA sponsors. The Travel Services’ staff will be required to assist this division. Claude Vankeirsbilck, Tourvest Travel Services’ Chief Sales Offi cer, says: “We expect business travel to be significantly impacted as there will be major strain on the available capacity for business travel. The next few weeks will allow us to help our customers plan and secure whatever is available to the business traveller.” He adds that Tourvest can tap into the accommodation and transport inventory already secured by its TEAM division to assist its client base should they require hotels and transport. “This is, however, going to come at a slight premium as the demand is high, particularly around the cities where matches are taking place, and subject to air travel capacity,” says Vankeirsbilck.

For more information visit tourvest.co.za  or call +27 11 790-0102

BCD Travel

No doubt BCD Travel’s ranking amongst South Africa’s top fi ve business travel companies, and as the third-largest TMC globally, had a lot to do with the company securing the deal as a supplier to the FIFA World Cup Organising Committee. BCD Travel Managing Director, Kananelo Makhetha, says: “We expect a drop in corporate travel during the time leading to the World Cup, and we will use our current resources and staff to ensure proper support to the Organising Committee during the event. We will continue to keep our clients informed and ensure that they do make correct and informed decisions about travel in 2010.”

For more information visit bcdtravel.co.za  or call +27 11 274-4000

eTravel

eTravel’s unique model gives companies total transparency to manage their own travel in association with eTravel. To assist them, eTravel sent all of its clients guidelines for travel during the 2010 World Cup. Dillon Serretta, Marketing and Preferred Partner Manager for the eTravel Group, says: “We expect that there will be little availability and that average ticket prices will be much inflated. As a result, many travelling corporates will implement an ‘essential only’ travel policy.”

For more information visit etravel.co.za  or call +27 11 502 3300

Sure Corporate Travel

Sure Corporate Travel, the specialist corporate and business travel arm of the Sure Travel Group, positions itself as a one-stop corporate travel shop and, to add value to its services, has been transmitting messages to customers outlining the World Cup schedule, along with information on expected volumes of visitors. Corporate Manager at Sure Travel, Jim Weighell, says: “We will be advising our customers on how best to plan for the event and over what time period. The basic objective is to have our customers prepared for the event by assisting them to develop a travel policy and plan for the period around the event.” Weighell says he anticipates that business travel will devolve into three main categories, i.e. companies that are able to ‘shift’ travel either side of the event; companies that still need to maintain a near normal travel schedule due to operational requirements, and companies actively involved in the event itself, which will probably see a major increase in travel requirements.

For more information visit surecorporate.co.za  or call +27 82 442 3883

XL Travel

XL Travel’s dynamic, forward-thinking attitude, and its ability to offer travel solutions that fi nd the middle ground between control and flexibility, has positioned the company to manage the ‘unique phenomenon’ which 2010 presents. Rod Rutter, XL Travel Holding’s Chief Operating Offi cer, says 2010 can be looked at as two halves. In the first half, the travel industry will continue to feel the effects of the downturn in 2009. However, he says, there could be a surge in corporate travel as companies attempted to maximise international travel before the World Cup. In the second half, he expects air travel to increase, feeding off the euphoria of the World Cup and the upswing in the global economy.

“The XL Group is well positioned to manage both periods, and the diversity of its membership base will maximise the opportunities presented in all aspects of the travel and tourism industry. The agencies that have diversifi ed and specialised will certainly reap the benefi ts. Already several XL members have been active in securing soccer teams and supporters,” adds Rutter.

For more information visit xltravel.co.za  or call +27 11 883-9699

HRG Rennies Travel

HRG Rennies Travel prides itself on a talented and knowledgeable workforce whose skills are honed through ongoing training and a strong commitment to innovation. It will be adding to this workforce, with an additional 500 employees, for a number of projects the company is involved in for the World Cup. These include providing commercial affiliates and international football federations with their travel-related requirements. Managing Director of HRG Rennies Travel, Kathy Harris says: “We are one of fi ve participating tour operators in South Africa, and as such are selling match tickets together with travel packages to the South African public. In addition, we will handle all the domestic air ticketing for MATCH for the event.” She estimates that corporate travel will decline to about 20% of normal activity.

For more information visit renniestravel.com  or call +27 11 407 2800

Club Travel

The Club Travel Group’s Club Corporate division caters for the specifi c needs of the business traveller. It offers tailor-made, A-to-Z management of their travel. Wally Gaynor, Managing Director of Club Travel, says: “In common with other TMCs and corporate clients, we actually don’t know what to expect and have nothing to compare or benchmark against.

Luckily, we have built up excellent relationships with suppliers, many of whom are looking beyond a one-month event and realising the sense of looking after your ongoing ‘bread and butter’. “We are confi dent that we will be able to accommodate our corporate clients with regard to places to stay. On the domestic airline side, I am convinced that with extra capacity and possible round-the-clock departures, people will get to where they want to go. The fact is, the existing fl ights are not full – the airlines are playing a wait-and-see game. It will all pan out over the next few months.”

For more information visit clubtravel.co.za  or call +27 21 487-4331

Duma Travel

A relatively ‘new kid on the block’, Duma Travel has grown exponentially over the last seven years of operation. The company acts as a travel management partner, focusing on all aspects of managed travel, enabling its clients to focus on growing their businesses. Duma Travel’s Executive Chairman, Themba Mthombeni, says that while the FIFA World Cup is great for South Africa, it will not be good for corporate travel. He explains that air, car and accommodation stock across the country is drying up, most corporates are already discouraging travel during this period, and that travel will be expensive. “As part of the strategy to deal with the above, Duma Travel has positioned itself to sell FIFA packages to the domestic corporate market and to international clients via intermediaries. We will also be marketing outbound packages to individuals, who want to be away from South Africa during this period,” says Mthombeni.

For more information visit dumatravel.co.za  or call +27 860 111 667

Carlson Wagonlit

Formed through the collaboration of two giants, Bidtravel and Carlson Wagonlit, Carlson Wagonlit Travel SA manages the travel programmes of the local subsidiaries of many large multi-national companies. CWT SA has travel centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, and representation in Port Elizabeth, Polokwane, Nelspruit, Lenasia, Ballito and Gaborone. CWT SA national sales and marketing manager, Ingrid von Moltke, says the company is committed to providing profi cient and effective travel management services and, as such, has advised its clients on how to manage business travel during the World Cup. According to CWT SA, business travel during the World Cup is ‘defi nitely possible’, if planned correctly and in advance. As Bidvest is a shareholder of MATCH, CWT SA has access to MATCH inventory, at premium prices. The company says fl ights, accommodation and ground transportation should be secured as early as possible, but advises that business travel not take place on match days or days before or after matches.

For more information visit carlsonwagonlit.com  or call +27 11 28-2300

Thompsons Travel

Thompsons Travel has a reputation for delivering added value product and personalised service. It is flexible in meeting clients’ needs and adapting to market changes. “Thompsons Travel,” says CEO Mary Shilleto, “is extremely upbeat and excited about 2010.” She adds: “I do, however, believe that as much as this will showcase SA at its best, our normal business patterns will be disrupted due to the number of people travelling over this period.” According to her, there would be a drastic decline in business travel in South Africa and abroad over the World Cup period. Shilleto believes there will be certain destinations, that have protected seats out of the country, for South Africans who would like to get away from the rush. These, she says, include Mauritius, certain Far East destinations and some in Africa like Kenya. “We are hoping that our corporate clients will undertake their business travel prior to the World Cup, i.e. in February, March and April, hence boosting the fi gures over these months,” adds Shilleto.

For more information call +27 11 770-7700

Wings Corporate Travel

Wings Corporate Travel has a presence in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban, and claims to use cutting-edge technology to determine a company’s exact challenges, understanding where policies are working optimally and where there is room for adjustment. Simon Phage, Vice-President: Operations (Africa) for Wings Corporate Travel, says: “We have been gearing up for the World Cup a long time before the actual kick-off. Most importantly, we have been sensitising our clients to the fact that travel within South Africa during the World Cup will border on impossible.” According to him, there s not much that can be done to combat the situation, “The diffi culties in travel over the period cannot be circumvented and, as such, the best course of action is to have made all possible plans in advance, and then to simply keep clients aware of what’s happening and let them know that they are going to face difficulties during these months.”

For more information visit wings.co.za  or call +27 11 292-5000

Uniglobe Travel

Specialising in managing the diverse and changing travel needs of companies and travellers, Uniglobe Travel has 50 outlets in sub-Saharan Africa. Its corporate travel and vacation travel business, building programmes have been key in its 30 year history of excellence. Mike Gray, Regional President of Uniglobe Travel (sub-Saharan Africa), says: “We are going to ensure that most of our staff leave and training takes place over the period of the games, and that our regular corporate customers get the best possible deals.” He admits that this will be quite difficult based on the ‘eye gouging’ prices already being witnessed with airlines, hotels and car hire. Further, Gray says, business travel will ‘disappear’ during the World Cup. “I am also afraid that this will become a habit which will prove hard to break after the event,” he adds.

For more information visit uniglobetravel.co.za  or call +27 11 444-8910

South African Travel Centre

With more than 90 branches throughout South Africa and a number in other African countries, South African Travel Centre’s dedicated network of skilled travel entrepreneurs focuses on providing exceptional service, quality delivery and value for money across the leisure and corporate travel markets. SATC also has an in-hour wholesale division called SATC Holidays. SATC is working closely with its wholesale division, which has been selected as a Participating Tour Operator for the World Cup. Evi Zacharis, of SATC, says: “This is a very exciting time for all our franchisees as they will be distributing the FIFA 2010 World Cup packages to follow South Africa.” The packages range from top-of-the-range luxury to budget-beaters. Evi adds: “I believe that the corporate travellers will cut down on their corporate travel over this period and only travel for critical business matters.”

For more information visit satc.co.za  or call (011) 616-7956

Travel With Flair

With more than 13 years in the industry, Travel With Flair is poised to prepare its clients for the event. Its team of over 300 skilled professionals is passionate about the arrangement, administration, planning and finer details of local and global travel. The company is in the process of studying what the actual costs will be during the World Cup period. Robert Wilke, Travel With Flair CEO, said clients were being informed about the availability of fl ights, accommodation, car rental, etc as well as the impact of higher costs on their travel expenditure. While Wilke expects business travel to decline dramatically, he says: “One challenge we might foresee is that high profi le clients could get last minute tickets and expect accommodation, fl ights and car rental to be done.” He explained that this would be a challenge, since minimal car rental and accommodation would be available during this period.