Q & A: Service, style and support

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Johanna Mukoki, managing director of Travel With Flair, speaks to Michelle Swart about the company’s quality travel management programme and how it lives up to its objective of being the most professionally managed corporate travel solutions company throughout Southern Africa.

How did your career start and how long have you been with Travel With Flair?

I started out as an accountant after graduating from Rhodes University. I met my partners, Robert Wilke and Tibor Zsadanyi in 1996, and the Travel With Flair brand was born. We have been in business for 13 years and it has been very rewarding to see the company grow from only one office to various offices based countrywide.

How does Travel With Flair differentiate itself from other travel management service providers?

We are pedantic about excellence and strive to provide the highest service excellence at all times. As a customer-focused business, we offer travel management programmes that are flexible so as to suit the various needs of each organisation. We are radical leaders in travel with a unique culture and are constantly striving to achieve customer satisfaction in all our interactions with our clients. We also continually strive to be at the forefront of any new technology in the travel sector that will make our traveller’s lives easier, thus giving us the competitive edge.

What measures do you have in place to help you achieve your goal of being the most professionally managed corporate travel solutions company throughout Southern Africa?

We have the best back-office systems, which, as far as possible, are virtually paperless. The business relationships we have built over the past thirteen years are testimony to our skills in managing companies’ travel portfolios. We have also achieved a good balance between corporate and government clients.

What industry initiatives is Travel With Flair involved with?

Travel With Flair is proud to be associated with the establishment of the GTA Travel Academy. We realised that there is a shortage of skilled individuals within the travel industry and the fact that there is an ongoing need to train and uplift individuals. Therefore we created a medium where this could be achieved through the establishment of The GTA Travel Academy. The Academy is a THETA-accredited training institution and we have a college in Pretoria as well as in Cape Town.

What would you say are Travel With Flair’s greatest achievements?

We are leaders in information technology in the tourism sector and have very high staff retention. Our most recent awards include World Travel Awards – 2009; Africa’s Leading Business Travel Agency 2009; Africa’s Leading Travel Management Company 2009 and South Africa’s Leading Travel Management Company 2009.

What have been your company’s major challenges over the past year and how have you dealt with them?

The challenges have been to retain the clients we have and especially not retrench any of our valued staff. The volume of business has declined, but we have made it a priority to look after our staff countrywide and to still continue providing first-class service to our valued clients, too.

How is Travel With Flair coping with the effects of the recession?

We have tried to consolidate our group expenses, by cutting out unnecessary expenditure. Our staff has been wonderful by coming to the party and being more mindful of wasteful expenditure.

What are your future goals for Travel With Flair?

Travel With Flair has over-achieved on its goals set out for 2009. Looking at 2010 and beyond, we plan to improve on our service delivery to our clients. We are also planning on expanding so that the Travel With Flair brand is represented in more cities countrywide. Ultimately, we would like to be recognised as the travel management leaders on the continent.

What can the business traveller expect from Travel With Flair?

First Class service all the way, so service excellence is a given. The dedicated directors and experienced staff add value by providing the best possible travel solutions and innovative service at all times. Over and above managing optimum travel requirements, our services include a fully fledged call centre, SMS technology, an after-hours reporting system, web-based voucher system, and an on-line booking tool, to mention a few. In travel it’s all about convenience and service. The Travel With Flair brand is positioned as the travel management company you can believe in.