In the spotlight: Lidia Folli, Bidvest Travel Holdings

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Lidia Folli is the Chief Executive Officer of Bidvest Travel Holdings, taking responsibility for Bidvest’s Travel cluster, Africa’s largest travel group. She joined the BidTravel group as Chief Operations Officer on 1 August 2016, and was promoted to CEO from 1 April 2017. She had previously spent over 10-years with Tourvest in various positions, exiting the group at Tourvest Travel Services in the combined CFO/CIO role being held until July 2016.

Q: What has been your most memorable incident in the travel industry from a professional experience point of view?

A: My role requires a fair amount of business travel and I have undertaken many business trips that take place seamlessly, but it takes a very small incident to set the best laid plans awry. A trip within the last year that stands out was my return from the US. I was delayed en-route to the airport for my return flight due to roadworks, so did not have the comfort barrier of time to my advantage, arrived at the airport, checked-in for my flight, but couldn’t get through security clearance in adequate time to board the flight. What followed was a succession of missed connections. The return journey, that was only meant to be a two-sector return, resulted in multiple flights and multiple days before I got home. I experienced the true value that we deliver to our clients and commended my staff on their efforts in assisting me, as I have the benefit of insight into the very specific rules of air travel when sequence ticketing is broken. I know the hoops my staff had to jump through to get me back, and it is with the same care and attention our customers receive – such service cannot be achieved from automation.

Q: If you were the Minister of South African Travel & Tourism what would you do to improve things?

A: I am very heartened, having returned from a local getaway with my family, at the number of foreign travellers that continue to visit our beautiful country. Tourism is a key job-creator/ developer industry to any country and its benefit to our economy have been published and continue to be put at the forefront of the local agenda. However, what did resonate, as I visited the local tourist hot-spots on our journey, is that other than local school children on field trips (and there were several them), there were very few other South African’s present at these sites. SA Tourism has, for several years, had the development of ‘local’s travelling locally’ the Sho’t Left campaign, on the agenda. It remains our challenge as role players in the industry, to create that unique experience, at the correct price points, to make those off-the-beaten-track experiences desirable and affordable, to all South Africans.