BCD Travel


More opportunities than ever – but are you Africa-ready?

The BCD Travel difference
BCD Travel combines service leadership with flexible technology, intelligent data analysis and strategic solutions in providing unmatched advantages to clients, big and small, worldwide. Its massive global presence and buying power count for a great deal, as do its comprehensive industry insight, consistency in leadership and outstanding client service models.

BCD Travel has a global footprint and operations in more than 90 countries on five continents, and is represented throughout Africa. The company prides itself on its ability to offer a helping hand to clients anywhere in the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The company is able to assist with any emergency travel needs or last minute change of plans. The BCD Travel peace-of-mind offering is unmatched anywhere in the world.

Favourable economic outlook attracts global business interest 
With the global economic crisis continuing to bite deep, the African economy has more than tripled since 2000, with the overall economic outlook for the region remaining favourable, according to Ernst and Young’s Africa Attractiveness Survey. The African Economic Outlook reports that Africa’s economy is continuing to show a high degree of resilience against global economic turbulences. Many parts of the region are forecast to continue experiencing high growth rates, and predictions are that the African economy will remain among the fastest growing economies in the world.

Companies are doing business at a brisk pace in greater Africa, with previously untapped business territories offering new and exciting opportunities. There are, however, certain risks and challenges involved, many of which are from unexpected quarters. With African working trips becoming an integral part of business life, executives have had to become discerning travellers to ensure maximum comfort and value for money. 

Plan ahead to minimise inconvenience and misadventure
According to Kananelo Makhetha, Managing Director of BCD Travel, the third largest corporate travel management company in the world, and a force to be reckoned with in South Africa, frequent local and overseas travel can be taxing on body and soul.

Makhetha views planning as an integral part of travelling for business and the only way of ensuring that inconvenience and misadventures are minimised. His advice is simple: “Take time ahead of your departure to plan your itinerary and give yourself ample opportunity to establish the necessary contacts ahead of your trip. Compile lists of facts to consider and items to take along. Finally, use your travel management company well.”

When to go?
The decision of when to travel may well be imposed by a rigid business schedule, but travelling during the off-season can offer greater flexibility in terms of bookings, be more comfortable, productive, less crowded and also cost effective.

Official and religious holidays are important to the business traveller, as government agencies, financial institutions and businesses may be closed on holidays. Religious considerations are equally important, as there are parts of the world where “Friday is like Sunday”, and for those on a tight schedule this can create difficulties. To maximise your chances of seeing the right person, ensure that your trip does not coincide with major events.

Where to start?
Have as much information as possible on your travel destination, particularly when visiting a less developed country. Apart from your travel consultant and others who have visited the same destination, good sources include tourism authorities, embassies, the Internet, local libraries and travel publications. Keep in mind that the economy and political climate may change quickly in certain countries.

Staying safe
There are dangers everywhere in the world and Africa is no exception. The apparent wealth of the business traveller can hold great allure for unscrupulous individuals. But, with due caution and common sense, you can reduce the risk to your life and property.

Always keep important documents such as your passport, identity document, travellers’ cheque numbers and receipts, along with some emergency funds, safely and separately locked away in your hotel safe. Leave as little as possible in your hotel room and keep your luggage locked. Label luggage inside and outside with your name, postal address and home, mobile and office telephone numbers.

Leave a record of travel debit card numbers and travellers’ cheque numbers and copies of your passport, identity document, international driver’s licence and other important information at home, at your office and on your cell phone. A special ‘travel wallet’ or debit card, available from most banks, is a convenient way to travel. Where possible, avoid using ATMs at night. 

Staying healthy
One of the greatest, unexpected challenges faced by intrepid businesses looking to new markets are the healthcare needs and risks faced elsewhere in the world. “Companies wishing to expand abroad will benefit substantially by taking proactive steps in ensuring that the health of travellers visiting new areas receives due attention,” says Makhetha.

Common sense is the simplest prescription for good health while travelling – eat well, drink enough and get enough sleep. Pay attention to the signals of pain and discomfort. While this may be due to a new climate, diet, water quality, or pace of work, it could allude to something far more serious. Always ensure that you have good travel insurance.

Don’t get caught without your clothes and toiletries
Always keep a change of clothing and some basic toiletries in your hand luggage, as luggage can unfortunately get lost, even on direct flights.

Once you have obtained all the relevant information needed, start planning your itinerary.  The day-to-day plan should include a schedule of meetings, the appropriate attire needed, as well as documentation and preparation work required. The exact venue of meetings and how to travel there and back should be included in the itinerary.  

Be flexible with your plans and be prepared to change arrangements to capitalise on unforeseen circumstances and new opportunities. Modify plans as it becomes necessary, as the benefits will be well worthwhile.