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THE TMC SPACE<br />

Embracing technology<br />

SA TOURISM<br />

Local leisure at its best<br />

ZIMBABWE<br />

Clawing its way back<br />

TRAVELIT<br />

Simple yet Powerful<br />

ISSUE 119: SEPTEMBER 2017<br />

www.businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Thank You<br />

for Voting for Us<br />

Best Airline In Africa<br />

www.ethiopianairlines.com


John Smith<br />

@Modern<strong>Business</strong>Traveller<br />

No wonder Silverbirch @<br />

Birchwood won a Certificate of<br />

Excellence from TripAdvisor.<br />

September 2017<br />

Silverbirch @ Birchwood has been specially developed for the discerning and<br />

modern business traveller. 235 beautiful rooms, positioned and designed to<br />

ensure a comfortable and peaceful night’s rest. Set apart with access control in a<br />

tranquil part of the Birchwood grounds, far from the conference bustle.<br />

Express Check-in<br />

Exclusive Dining Options<br />

7km from OR Tambo<br />

Free Wi-Fi*<br />

Upmarket Meeting Facilities<br />

Free Shuttle and Airport Waiting Lounge<br />

To experience your finest business stay, call 011 897 0000 or email reservations@birchwoodhotel.co.za.<br />

www.birchwoodhotel.co.za


48<br />

Contents<br />

64<br />

58<br />

59<br />

18<br />

Tourvest<br />

Tourvest Travel Services is a leading integrated travel<br />

group, with products and services ranging from travel<br />

management companies through to foreign exchange<br />

bureaux. Its foray into the travel technology space has<br />

involved integrating travel arrangements onto a single<br />

platform by taking industry knowledge and technological<br />

expertise to create Travelit. The online solution drives<br />

cost savings, streamlines booking processes, improves<br />

reporting and provides full visibility of travel spend.<br />

16<br />

20<br />

48<br />

FEATURES<br />

TMCs in Africa<br />

Travel management companies the<br />

world over have had to change the<br />

way they do business and re-look<br />

their models, with technology driving<br />

this change. As a result, TMCs look<br />

a lot different to what they looked like<br />

10 years ago, with a nearly complete<br />

overhaul of the TMC offering.<br />

Zimbabwe<br />

As the country edges closer to its next<br />

general election, the world speculates<br />

about Robert Mugabe’s future and the<br />

possibility of a coalition government<br />

strong enough to unseat the long-time<br />

president. Despite rising political tension,<br />

Zimbabwe is still a fairly straightforward<br />

business travel destination to visit.<br />

REGULARS<br />

04<br />

06<br />

16<br />

17<br />

Message from the Team<br />

What’s the editor ranting about now?<br />

News<br />

Airline, hotel and other travel news<br />

from Africa and beyond<br />

W Hospitality Column<br />

Managing Director Trevor Ward gives<br />

us his take on the West African hotel<br />

industry<br />

ASATA Column<br />

The latest from Chief Executive Officer<br />

Otto de Vries<br />

58<br />

60<br />

62<br />

64<br />

Tried and Tested<br />

Hotel Check<br />

• Sun Meropa<br />

Flight Check<br />

• Virgin Atlantic<br />

Q & A Interviews<br />

• Sally George – Singapore Airlines<br />

• Andy Hedley – Amadeus<br />

People on the Move<br />

The movers and shakers –<br />

what they’re up to now<br />

Bite with the Editor<br />

Neil Bald – aha Hotels & Lodges<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 3


ED’S LETTER<br />

Nigeria continues to struggle to bounce back<br />

from the troubles of the past few years.<br />

The latest reminder, a report on travel to<br />

Africa, produced by ForwardKeys, which predicts<br />

future travel patterns by analysing 17 million<br />

booking transactions a day. It showed overall double<br />

digit growth in flight arrivals to Africa for the first<br />

half of this year and little indication that the pace of<br />

growth will slow down soon. The wider report makes<br />

encouraging reading for airlines, governments and<br />

hoteliers, but not for those with a vested interest in<br />

Nigeria.<br />

Looking at Africa’s top ten destination countries,<br />

there were stand-out performances from Tunisia<br />

and Egypt, which are recovering from notorious<br />

terrorist attacks two years ago, up 33.5% and 24.8%<br />

respectively. In addition, Morocco and Tunisia<br />

received a huge boost in arrivals from China, up<br />

450% and 250% respectively, after they relaxed visa<br />

restrictions.<br />

Nigeria, though, remains the one disappointment,<br />

thanks to a 0.8% drop in the wake of the recession in<br />

2016 caused by a collapse in the oil price to a 13-year<br />

low. Further to that, if one looks at the scheduled<br />

capacity for the August-December 2017 period for the<br />

top ten airports in Africa, in terms of traffic, Lagos is<br />

the only city showing negative growth. Its domestic<br />

capacity is down 16% and international, 9%.<br />

Elsewhere, the picture is a little rosier.<br />

The report revealed that in the first seven months<br />

of the year, total international flight arrivals grew by<br />

14% over the same period in 2016. Most significantly,<br />

growth was stronger for travel to and from the<br />

continent than within Africa. Arrivals from Europe,<br />

which make up 46% of the market, were up 13.2%.<br />

From the Americas, arrivals were up 17.6%; from the<br />

Middle East, 14% and from Asia Pacific, 18.4%. By<br />

comparison, intra-African air travel, which makes up<br />

26% of the market, was up 12.6%.<br />

Looking ahead, the picture remains an<br />

encouraging one, according to the ForwardKeys<br />

report.<br />

Bookings for flights to Africa were – as of mid-<br />

August – 16.8% ahead of where they were on 31<br />

July, 2016. Bookings from Europe were 17.5% ahead,<br />

from the Americas 26.6% ahead, from Asia Pacific<br />

11.5% ahead, from the Middle East 8.2% ahead, and<br />

bookings for intra-African air travel were 11% ahead.<br />

All of which makes for great reading for those with<br />

a vested interest in Africa and the African business<br />

travel market.<br />

It’s been a tough few years and challenges remain,<br />

but reports like the ForwardKeys report are a<br />

reminder that the overall African picture is a positive<br />

one with much potential to still realise.<br />

PUBLISHER<br />

Richard Lendrum<br />

EDITOR<br />

Dylan Rogers<br />

dylan@thefuture.co.za<br />

JOURNALIST<br />

Kate Kennedy<br />

DESIGN AND LAYOUT<br />

Nadette Voogd<br />

SUBSCRIPTIONS AND PRODUCTION<br />

Mabel Ramafoko<br />

mabel@thefuture.co.za<br />

SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICE<br />

Postal Address:<br />

PO Box 1746, Saxonwold, 2132<br />

Physical Address:<br />

247 Jan Smuts Avenue, Randburg<br />

Telephone: +27 11 327 6107<br />

NIGERIAN OFFICE<br />

3rd Floor, EuniBrown House195,<br />

Ikorodu Road, Palmgrove,Lagos, Nigeria<br />

Tel: +234 1 740 3236<br />

Mobile: +234 803 963 0155<br />

PUBLISHER – NORTH & WEST AFRICA<br />

Tope Ogbeni-Awe<br />

tope.ogbeni-awe@topcommng.com<br />

EDITORIAL ASSISTANT<br />

Mohammed Abdullahi<br />

<strong>Business</strong> Traveller Africa is published under licence from Perry<br />

Publications Limited.<br />

Warwick House, 25 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0PP.<br />

Tel: +44 20 7821 2740<br />

www.businesstraveller.com<br />

Dylan Rogers<br />

Editor<br />

dylan@thefuture.co.za<br />

Follow us on:<br />

4 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 5


NEWS<br />

Radisson Red Coming to Cape Town<br />

The V&A Waterfront’s newly revamped Silo District, which is shaping up to be a vibrant hive of cultural activity for<br />

travellers and Cape Town locals alike, is home to Africa’s very first Radisson RED – a unique hotel culture inspired by<br />

all things art, music and fashion. The hotel is set to shake up the South African hospitality industry with its bold new<br />

philosophy. The hotel offers an exuberant and unique take on modern hospitality as it embraces freedom, flexibility and<br />

fun. Radisson RED is inspired by the trends and lifestyle of the millennial, tapping into modern, high-tech travellers.<br />

In addition to the 252 contemporary rooms and fully equipped gym, the hotel will house four events and games studios<br />

for up to 90 guests – ideal for hosting meetings and social occasions. Guests are encouraged to use the ping pong tables<br />

in the events rooms while listening to their favourite tunes on the record player available. Furthermore, guests will be<br />

able to access super-fast free wi-fi and 24/7 entertainment tech throughout the property. Additional good news for all<br />

animal-lovers out there is that all animals of eight kilograms or under are welcome to stay at the hotel too. For the more<br />

chilled guest, the RED Roof is the ideal early-to-late hangout. Celebrating the best views of Table Mountain, this will be<br />

the spot to sit back and enjoy a local craft beer or take a splash in the pool. While food and drinks can be enjoyed at the<br />

OUIBar and KTCHN, the resident restaurant and bar, there will also be the option to order in via the RED app for those<br />

wanting some down time. The Cape Town Radisson RED Hotel follows successful launches in Brussels, Minneapolis and<br />

Campinas, with Glasgow set to launch soon.<br />

6 | SEPTEMBER2017<br />

For more news, visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


ABTA<br />

Need some inspiration in your<br />

role as a Travel Buyer or Supplier?<br />

Look no further than the African <strong>Business</strong> Travel Association,<br />

where you can become part of a well-informed and<br />

performance-driven <strong>Business</strong> Travel community.<br />

Through a variety of ABTA Events and online platforms,<br />

ABTA Members have access to resources, cutting edge developments<br />

and peer-to-peer networking. This access to best practice information<br />

and practical guidance will give you the extra inspiration needed<br />

to perform at the top of your game and demonstrate true value<br />

for your organisation.<br />

ABTA Premium Membership<br />

R2 900.00 / $215.00 per annum<br />

- Complimentary attendance to all relevant local ABTA events<br />

(excl. Conference)<br />

- Individual Membership Certificate<br />

- Access to ABTA’s Information Station<br />

- Reduced rates for Visa processing in partnership with Visa’s &<br />

Passports Unlimited<br />

- Complimentary Data on Mobile Roaming device in partnership with ExecMobile<br />

- Reduced rate on lost luggage tracker with LugLoc<br />

Sign up online at www.abta.co.za<br />

More information: +27 11 888 8178


NEWS<br />

Four-Star Grading for Mayfair Hotel<br />

The Mayfair Hotel in Umtata (Eastern Cape) has been awarded a four-star grading by South Africa’s Tourism Grading<br />

Council. This makes the $9.8 million (R130 million) hotel the latest of just a handful of four-star graded establishments<br />

in the city which, until recently, lacked the accommodation and entertainment facilities which larger centres boast. Billion<br />

Group began investing in Mthatha two years ago with the development of the first major shopping centre in the region –<br />

the BT Ngebs City mall. The Mayfair Hotel adjoins the mall, with ground set to break on another first for the region later<br />

this year: a $11.3 million (R150 million) casino and entertainment complex, complete with state-of-the-art cinemas. The<br />

hotel boasts 96 rooms, including a luxury three-room penthouse suite, a two-room presidential suite, two executive suites,<br />

and 88 bed-and-breakfast suites. There are also several well-appointed conference halls.<br />

Air France Offers VR Entertainment<br />

In order to surprise its customers and offer them a new form of entertainment, Air France is rolling out a brand new<br />

immersive entertainment system in partnership with the start-up SkyLights. Customers will be offered a virtual reality<br />

headset in which films and series are screened in 3D or 2D. The system has been tested on the Paris-Charles de Gaulle<br />

– St. Martin and St. Martin – Paris-Charles de Gaulle routes. Customers travelling in business class onboard the A340<br />

operating on this route can now try this new form of in-flight entertainment for themselves. Four headsets will be offered<br />

on board with a selection of 40 films and series. At the end of this test period, this new system could be rolled out on other<br />

flights in the months ahead.<br />

8 | SEPTEMBER2017<br />

For more news, visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Faircity Hotels<br />

Welcomes Kievits Kroon<br />

Kievits Kroon Country Estate and Spa, situated<br />

in Pretoria to the north of Johannesburg, is now<br />

part of the Faircity portfolio. Negotiations to buy<br />

the property began at the end of 2014 and the<br />

sale was recently finalised. It will take a couple of<br />

months for the property transfer to be completed,<br />

so in addition to the purchase agreement, there is<br />

also a management agreement in place to ensure<br />

continuity for the transition period. Kievits Kroon<br />

– a high-end four-star property – will strengthen<br />

Faircity’s footprint in Pretoria, in terms of<br />

conferencing, events and functions. Faircity says it<br />

has big plans for Kievits Kroon, and after a period<br />

of consolidation, the group will start introducing<br />

new things to the hotel’s offering. The existing staff<br />

will be retained. Faircity now operates seven hotels<br />

in the Gauteng province.<br />

India Issues Multi-Entry<br />

Visas for SA<br />

The High Commission of India in Pretoria has<br />

announced that the government of India has<br />

decided to issue multi-entry business visas with<br />

10-years validity to South African business people<br />

with immediate effect. The business visa holders<br />

can continuously stay during each visit to India not<br />

exceeding 180 days without registration.<br />

Join the Avis Preferred Loyalty Programme<br />

today. Spend less time filling out forms,<br />

and more time enjoying the benefits of priority<br />

service, upgrades, free additional driver and<br />

free weekend rentals*<br />

Apply today<br />

Visit avis.co.za<br />

*Terms and conditions apply. Excludes contracted rates.<br />

For more news, visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za ASEPTEMBER017 | 9


NEWS<br />

Lufthansa Takes A350 to Hong Kong<br />

Lufthansa will be offering flights to Hong Kong on the Airbus A350-900 from 12 September. Due to the flight distance – at<br />

10,000 kilometres – Hong Kong will be served by two aircraft flying alternatively. These will be the fourth and fifth A350-<br />

900 aircraft due to be delivered to Lufthansa on 12 August and 2 September respectively. The A350’s maiden flight to Hong<br />

Kong will take off on 12 September at 22h30 and be welcomed for the first time in Hong Kong 11 hours later at 15h35 local<br />

time on 13 September. The first of 15 A350-900’s arrived in Munich in February. By September, five of these aircraft will<br />

be taking off from their home base of Munich to fly to Boston, Delhi, Mumbai and Hong Kong. The A350-900 has space<br />

for 293 passengers – 48 in business class, 21 in premium economy and 224 in economy class. It uses 25% less kerosene,<br />

produces 25% fewer emissions and is significantly quieter on take-off than comparable types of aircraft.<br />

Preferred Welcomes<br />

New Hotels<br />

Preferred Hotels & Resorts has announced the<br />

addition of 23 new member hotels and resorts<br />

across 13 different countries. Highlights of<br />

the new hotel additions include Hotel MiM<br />

Sitges in Spain, the Ambassador Chicago<br />

in the United States, the Cerulean Tower<br />

Tokyu Hotel in Japan, the Merchants Manor<br />

Hotel & Spa in the UK and the Iberostar<br />

Grand Hotel Rose Hall in Jamaica. Travellers<br />

can access exclusive member rates and earn<br />

reward points at many of these properties<br />

through the Preferred Hotels & Resorts iPrefer<br />

hotel rewards programme. Free to join, the<br />

programme extends points redeemable towards<br />

free nights and other on-property expenditures,<br />

elite status, and other complimentary benefits<br />

to guests. Bookings can be made online at<br />

PreferredHotels.com or on the iPrefer mobile<br />

app, available on Android and iOS.<br />

10 | SEPTEMBER2017<br />

For more news, visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Sun<br />

International<br />

Unveils New Hotel<br />

Sun International has opened a new<br />

hotel at the Sun Meropa complex<br />

in the city of Polokwane in South<br />

Africa’s Limpopo province. The group<br />

invested R76-million ($5.7 million)<br />

in the project and construction has<br />

been underway since September 2016.<br />

The new Sun Meropa Hotel flows<br />

seamlessly into the casino complex and<br />

has a Moroccan theme to it, reflected<br />

in the architecture and aesthetics.<br />

The hotel boasts 60 rooms, including<br />

four suites and two luxury suites. Sun<br />

Meropa is a vibrant entertainment<br />

hub at the heart of Polokwane.<br />

The complex features the upmarket<br />

Harvest Grill & Wine restaurant; the<br />

contemporary Jembe Tavern which<br />

hosts regular live entertainment; and a<br />

well-equipped and versatile conference<br />

centre. The casino itself boasts 417<br />

slot machines and 17 tables, including<br />

classics like Roulette, Blackjack and<br />

Poker. (See page 58)<br />

Get straight<br />

to business<br />

Same day return flights between<br />

Cape Town and Pretoria<br />

If time is money, we can help you spend it wisely.<br />

Our new weekday 06:45 flight makes travelling to Pretoria’s Wonderboom<br />

National Airport easy, quick and convenient, so you can get straight to what<br />

matters - business. Earn or redeem Voyager Miles and book your flight<br />

on www.flyairlink.com<br />

flyairlink.com @fly_airlink Fly Airlink<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 11


NEWS<br />

British Airways Invests in First<br />

British Airways is continuing to invest in other improvements to its first class, including a refresh of its flagship Concorde<br />

Room at Heathrow Terminal 5, which is to be unveiled in October. The lounge, which is exclusive to First customers, will<br />

receive an updated look and feel, as well as improvements to the terrace area. Additionally, new Liberty London washbags<br />

have taken to the skies. The kits feature prints from Liberty’s vintage textile archive. The gentlemen’s washbag features<br />

Refinery’s revitalising moisturiser, lip balm, deodorant stick and shave gel, as well as a razor, brush and comb, toothbrush,<br />

toothpaste, eye mask, socks, ear plugs and pen. The ladies’ kit includes Aromatherapy Associates triple rose renewing<br />

moisturiser, hydrating hand lotion, renewing cleanser and deodorant stick, along with a lip balm, cotton wool pads,<br />

toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush and pen.<br />

XL Sandown Travel<br />

Kopanang BEE<br />

Accreditation<br />

XL Sandown Travel Kopanang has confirmed its<br />

existing Level 1 BEE official SANAS accreditation.<br />

The accreditation was run on the revised Codes<br />

of Good Practice. Servicing the corporate travel<br />

market, the Sandown Travel Group has been in the<br />

industry for over 45 years in South Africa. It is also a<br />

founding member of the XL Travel Group and global<br />

member of ATG international. The XL Sandown<br />

Travel Kopanang offering covers corporate travel,<br />

group and MICE specialist services, VIP and travel<br />

concierge services, travel data management, duty of<br />

care, online booking tools, and in-house visa and<br />

forex provision.<br />

12 | SEPTEMBER2017<br />

For more news, visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


KWAZULU NATAL MIDLANDS<br />

SLOW XS Launches at<br />

Lanseria<br />

Comair Limited has launched SLOW XS, a new<br />

lounge at Lanseria International Airport to the<br />

north-west of Johannesburg. SLOW XS is the latest<br />

addition to the suite of existing SLOW Lounge<br />

experiences across South Africa. It opened at<br />

Lanseria’s domestic terminal and will be exclusively<br />

available to qualifying kulula.com, FNB, RMB<br />

and Comair Limited VIP guests. The SLOW XS<br />

concept has been specifically designed to address<br />

the discerning traveller’s need for dedicated transit<br />

spaces within smaller airport environments, such<br />

as Lanseria. The spatial constraints of its present<br />

location have led to a paring down of certain services,<br />

such as buffet catering, in-house spa and private<br />

washroom facilities. Partnering with design agency<br />

UNKNOWN in developing and realising the lounge<br />

concept, the notion of scale was extended across a<br />

range of elements, from a limited edition volume of<br />

hand-made guest books and sustainability-sensitive<br />

reusable water bottles to a taster-inspired menu, coldbrewed<br />

coffee selection and boutique, small-batch<br />

alcohol labels from micro-distilleries.<br />

Looking for the ultimate<br />

multifunctional<br />

conference destination?<br />

From high-level board meetings to interactive conferences, the<br />

Agility Hub at Brahman Hills is the first truly multifunctional venue in<br />

the KwaZulu Natal Midlands. With a host of other rooms, venues<br />

and breakaway spaces available on the property, it’s no surprise<br />

that Brahman Hills is considered the ultimate conference<br />

destination!<br />

Conference Venues<br />

• The Nguni Room seats up to 20 people<br />

• The Lake House seat seats up to 150 people<br />

• The Glass House seats up to 400 people<br />

• The Stables Boardroom seats up to 18 people<br />

• The Agility Hub seats up to 100 people<br />

Accommodation<br />

60 people (single occupancy) 120 people (shared occupancy)<br />

Accommodation is spread between our hotel rooms and cottages.<br />

+27(0)33 266 6965 reservations@brahmanhills.co.za<br />

For more news, visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za www.brahmanhills.co.za Brahman ASEPTEMBER017 Hills | 13


NEWS<br />

Airlink Starts Using New E190 E-Jets<br />

Airlink has put one of its three recently-delivered Embraer E190 E-jets into service, using the aircraft on the<br />

Pietermaritzburg and Bulawayo routes. Airlink’s new flagship aircraft type will slowly be phased in to replace the fleet of<br />

12 Avro RJ85s currently used on various routes, including Pietermaritzurg and Bulawayo. The E-Jets provide customers<br />

with additional seat pitch and a business class product that will be introduced on both of these routes. The E-Jets provide<br />

Airlink with superior operational performance range and efficiency, coupled with an enhanced cabin environment. The<br />

cabin layout features two plus two seating, with large eye-level windows. Under-seat areas are free of support railings, so<br />

that passengers can stretch out in greater comfort. The eight rows of economy seats forward of the emergency exit feature<br />

a 33-inch seat pitch, providing added personal space on longer sectors. Airlink will make use of air-bridges at O.R. Tambo<br />

International Airport in Johannesburg to facilitate quick and convenient boarding. The E-Jets are configured with six<br />

business and 92 economy class seats.<br />

Travelport and Mobacar<br />

Extend Partnership<br />

Travelport has extended its partnership with car rental<br />

and ground transportation technology Mobacar. Building<br />

on the success of the existing relationship, this longterm<br />

agreement now makes Mobacar a preferred global<br />

technology partner. Travelport, in partnership with<br />

Mobacar, intends to dramatically increase the global car<br />

rental and ground transportation content available to its<br />

travel agency customers. With this real-time connectivity to<br />

hundreds of car rental and ground transportation suppliers,<br />

Travelport can provide customers with the widest choice<br />

of relevant car transportation offers. With the Smartpoint<br />

tool and UAPI or mobile, Travelport-connected agencies<br />

have a one-stop-shop for their global car supply and<br />

ground transportation needs. The partnership will help<br />

car suppliers and travel agencies add a door-to-door driver<br />

service to the journey.<br />

14 | SEPTEMBER2017<br />

For more news, visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Mövenpick Ambassador Launches ‘Kilo of Kindness’<br />

Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel Accra in Ghana is one of 46 Mövenpick properties around the world calling on guests and<br />

residents to donate food, clothing and educational supplies to help local families in need, as it launches the 2017 ‘Kilo<br />

of Kindness’ charity drive. The global campaign, which marks the UN International Day of Charity on 5 September, will<br />

see donated items distributed to disadvantaged local communities by each hotel’s charity partner. Guests and visitors are<br />

invited to drop off at least one kilo of food, clothing and educational supplies in the hotel lobby during the two-week<br />

campaign, which runs from 1-15 September. They will be donated to Chance for Children, a local charity that looks after<br />

street children, keeping them safe and providing them with a school education and professional opportunities, with 150<br />

youngsters currently in its care. To date, more than 60 former street kids have completed school and professional training<br />

with the support of CFC and are now living independently or have been reintegrated into their families. Although each<br />

guest is encouraged to donate a ‘Kilo of Kindness’, all contributions are welcome. Educational supplies in demand include<br />

books, notebooks and stationery such as pens, pencils, rulers, erasers, sharpeners, glue and scissors. Clothing donations<br />

will be well received too, as well as canned and dried (non-perishable) foods such as rice, beans, oats, pasta, cereals, flour<br />

and powdered milk.<br />

BACK TO BUSINESS<br />

IT’S OUR BUSINESS TO ENSURE YOU HAVE<br />

GREAT VENUES TO ATTEND TO YOUR BUSINESS<br />

Conference with us FROM NGN 12 100 per delegate<br />

TO BOOK visit www.bonhotels.com<br />

BON Hotel Abuja, Maitama<br />

BON Hotel Stratton Asokoro, Abuja<br />

BON Hotel Grand Pela, Abuja<br />

BON Hotel Delta, Warri<br />

Protea Hotel Victoria Island operated by<br />

BON Hotels, Lagos<br />

Protea Hotel Ikeja operated by<br />

BON Hotels, Lagos<br />

Get Social<br />

on Twitter,<br />

Facebook or<br />

Instagram using;<br />

#BONBUZZAfrica<br />

For more news, visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za ASEPTEMBER017 | 15


COMMENT<br />

An Eye on<br />

West Africa<br />

Trevor Ward<br />

MD: W Hospitality<br />

Group<br />

There is no doubt that<br />

the arrival of so-called<br />

disruptive business<br />

models like Uber and Airbnb has<br />

generated more heated discussions<br />

on government regulation, ethics<br />

and the limits of free enterprise<br />

than any business model in<br />

history. Not surprising, as these<br />

business models question the very<br />

foundations of commerce as we<br />

have always experienced it. Well…<br />

as we have always experienced it…<br />

that’s probably a very subjective<br />

statement given that we evolved<br />

from trading by barter to the<br />

use of standardised, universallyaccepted<br />

currency, a change which<br />

must have been quite disruptive in<br />

its days.<br />

So what exactly is disruptive<br />

about renting an apartment in<br />

Arequito, Bansko or Calapan,<br />

anyway? I’ll wager my $10 that<br />

you’d be hard pressed even to find<br />

these cities on a map. But that’s<br />

the point. From a consumer’s<br />

perspective, perhaps a disruptive<br />

business model is what is needed<br />

to find flexible, convenient and<br />

affordable accommodation in a<br />

little corner of the world. That’s<br />

the whole idea. Airbnb, quite<br />

simply, is a means for homeowners<br />

to connect with bargain seekers<br />

for short stay accommodation.<br />

The statistics bear witness to the<br />

fact that more and more people<br />

are buying into the idea. Airbnb<br />

currently operates in 191 countries<br />

(heck, there are only 196) with in<br />

excess of 200 million users to date.<br />

That’s roughly the population of<br />

Brazil!<br />

And where does Africa feature<br />

in all of this? There are an<br />

estimated 77,000 property listings<br />

in Africa, according to Airbnb<br />

CEO Brian Chesky. With around<br />

17 countries in Africa operating<br />

on the Airbnb platform, South<br />

Africa is by far the largest market,<br />

where the concept has had a<br />

presence since 2015. Today the<br />

list of African locations includes a<br />

host of cities in Kenya, Morocco,<br />

Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique,<br />

Namibia, Rwanda…and yes, even<br />

Somalia. Talk about expanding a<br />

global brand into the unknown –<br />

as many people refer to business<br />

in Africa.<br />

If South Africa is the key<br />

player, what do the numbers say<br />

about the West African region?<br />

Well, there are an estimated<br />

2,600 properties listed in the<br />

sub-region, with new ones added<br />

on a daily basis. When you look<br />

at W Hospitality Group’s 2017<br />

dataset of rooms in the hotel chain<br />

development pipeline in West<br />

Africa, it stands at a little over<br />

20,000. Working the maths, that<br />

means that the since the launch of<br />

Airbnb on the continent in 2015,<br />

the platform has grown to be over<br />

10% of the planned hotel rooms.<br />

If the number of listings continues<br />

to rise as is predicted, then in the<br />

next two years Airbnb could be<br />

a significant competitor for the<br />

traditional hotel sector.<br />

There are questions about how<br />

sustainable this model is, but<br />

also several reasons why Airbnb<br />

will continue to work in Africa.<br />

The opportunity for homeowners,<br />

up-and-coming entrepreneurs,<br />

to share easily in the economic<br />

benefits of a global brand by<br />

offering their apartments is one,<br />

bringing income direct to the<br />

individual. Nigeria, for instance,<br />

has one of the youngest techsavvy<br />

demographics in the world,<br />

and can readily take advantage of<br />

an online business platform such<br />

as Airbnb. Secondly, adventure<br />

seekers can have a real feel of<br />

what life is like in Africa at<br />

the grass roots, living ‘just like<br />

the locals’. And not every city<br />

has a hotel that appeals to the<br />

international traveller, so with<br />

Airbnb visitors have access to<br />

secure and trusted accommodation<br />

almost wherever they choose to<br />

travel. Nicola D’Elia, Airbnb’s<br />

Regional Manager for Africa and<br />

Middle East comments: "We want<br />

to bring tourists to parts of the<br />

continent that aren't covered by<br />

traditional accommodations —<br />

only places where you could stay<br />

in other people's homes".<br />

The highly successful model<br />

of sharing one’s personal space<br />

with virtual strangers can raise<br />

issues, at least in more developed<br />

countries. In an age when terror<br />

attacks are frequent, communities<br />

which now find themselves<br />

hosting strangers, who have no<br />

ties nor accountability to those<br />

communities, express concerns<br />

relating to the safety and security<br />

of their permanent residents.<br />

This is, of course, not only an<br />

African issue – the Department<br />

of <strong>Business</strong> Affairs and Consumer<br />

Protection in Chicago recently<br />

announced plans to register<br />

Airbnb hosts, with penalties for<br />

non-compliance.<br />

Opposition from governments<br />

has been rising over the years,<br />

as the number of Airbnb listings<br />

increases. Evidence of this was<br />

clearly shown recently with new<br />

legislation passed in New York<br />

protecting local housing, a move<br />

which is set to redefine the very<br />

business model on which Airbnb<br />

is built. The main reason for the<br />

Nee York law was the misuse of<br />

Airbnb by commercial landlords,<br />

and the loss of badly-needed<br />

residential space in the city centre.<br />

Such regulation has been seen<br />

in other cities such as Berlin and<br />

even San Francisco, the home of<br />

Airbnb.<br />

And the hotel sector complains<br />

about the entry into the market of<br />

accommodation providers who are<br />

not regulated, encounter very few<br />

barriers to entry, and are largely<br />

untaxed.<br />

Whilst Airbnb claims to be<br />

increasing its penetration of<br />

the corporate market, its real<br />

role in Africa is to expand the<br />

reach of product available to<br />

the leisure market. Sadly, many<br />

traditional hotels which are ‘off<br />

the beaten track’ in West Africa<br />

are sometimes unappealing even<br />

to the hardy backpacker, and the<br />

home stay, with an endorsement<br />

from Airbnb, has the potential to<br />

readily fill that gap, without the<br />

capital investment required to<br />

build a new hotel. C<br />

www.w-hospitalitygroup.com<br />

16 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


COMMENT<br />

Does South Africa need its own<br />

‘travel warnings’?<br />

The recent release of Stephen<br />

McGowan has prompted<br />

security experts to call upon<br />

the government to do more to warn<br />

South Africans about the dangers<br />

when travelling abroad.<br />

Terrorism expert Jasmine<br />

Opperman told <strong>Business</strong> Day she<br />

believes the government should<br />

be issuing travel warnings and<br />

advisories to South Africans<br />

travelling to countries such as Mali<br />

and Somalia. Ryan Cummings‚<br />

Director at Signal Risk‚ agreed<br />

with Opperman‚ saying the South<br />

African government should be<br />

providing information to citizens<br />

about "where it is safe to travel<br />

and where it isn’t". However,<br />

the Department of International<br />

Relations and Co-operation (Dirco)<br />

says South Africa doesn’t have a<br />

policy to issue travel warnings to<br />

fellow African countries.<br />

Although the government<br />

might not have a policy in place<br />

to issue travel warnings, travel<br />

consultants and TMCs associated<br />

with the Association of Southern<br />

African Travel Agents have a duty<br />

to divulge information about<br />

‘dangerous’ destinations as well<br />

as unusual threats to their clients.<br />

Your peace of mind when travelling<br />

is a top priority for any ASATAaccredited<br />

travel consultant. That<br />

is why they will make sure they<br />

disclose any red flags or warnings<br />

about a destination, including<br />

terror threats and tropical diseases.<br />

<strong>Business</strong> travel has grown<br />

significantly over the last decade<br />

with businesses sending employees<br />

to a wider range of territories<br />

including high risk or extreme risk<br />

regions. In these cases, your travel<br />

consultant will be able to update<br />

you on the latest security measures<br />

and highlight risks. However, the<br />

truth is that today even the most<br />

low-risk destinations can become<br />

high-risk in a matter of just a<br />

couple of hours.<br />

When disaster strikes in what is<br />

considered a ‘low risk’ destination,<br />

it is a huge relief for the traveller<br />

to know that their ASATA travel<br />

consultant is available to assist<br />

with advice and solutions. The<br />

modern 21st century travel agent<br />

has the right expertise and will<br />

endeavour to resolve travel issues<br />

if they arise, including making<br />

alternative travel arrangements,<br />

or at least provide the traveller<br />

with useful information to manage<br />

travel issues and reduce the<br />

travellers’ levels of uncertainty and<br />

feelings of helplessness.<br />

So, although travel warnings are<br />

invaluable for business travellers,<br />

what’s more important still, is to<br />

have a true travel professional at<br />

their side at all times. C<br />

Otto de Vries<br />

ASATA CEO<br />

Walkersons Hotel & Spa has captivated visitors to Dullstroom<br />

for more than twenty years – the stunning views, the wellstocked<br />

trout dams, the spa, accommodation with all the<br />

modern comforts and fine country dining, make Walkersons a<br />

charming and memorable destination.<br />

This haven of serenity in Mpumalanga, with elegant dining<br />

rooms, a gorgeous terrace, the cosy Peggy’s Bar and lovely<br />

lawns leading to the hidden swimming pool and a stylish, old<br />

world country atmosphere, has the perfect balance of proximity<br />

and distance (both Johannesburg and Pretoria being three<br />

hours away), making it an ideal location to hold a conference.<br />

The hotel has two dedicated conference venues available for<br />

use, with the Walker Room able to accommodate a capacity<br />

of up to 100 delegates. Alternatively, retreat to the seclusion of<br />

the Tapestry Room for a more private and exclusive meeting.<br />

Day and overnight special packages are available.<br />

Tel: 013 253 7000 • Email: reservations@walkersons.co.za<br />

• Web: www.walkersons.co.za<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 17


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18 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


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FEATURE – TMCs<br />

Embracing<br />

Technology<br />

The traditional travel management company model has had to evolve,<br />

largely due to the technological advancement that has changed our lives<br />

and changed the way people book and engage in travel.<br />

20 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 21


FEATURE – TMCs<br />

It’s a different world out there.<br />

The times are changing<br />

and they are changing<br />

quickly. Technology dominates<br />

our lives and it’s technology that<br />

is ever evolving, with increased<br />

information at our fingertips<br />

and trends changing all the<br />

time. Throw in some economic<br />

uncertainty and increased<br />

competition, and you have a<br />

challenging environment in which<br />

to operate.<br />

That applies to just about<br />

every industry, but what does<br />

it mean for the travel industry,<br />

and specifically those in travel<br />

management?<br />

Well, quite simply, the role of<br />

a travel manager has become<br />

increasingly complex. The influx<br />

of online travel agencies and<br />

platforms has meant that more<br />

and more consumers are opting to<br />

be their own travel manager.<br />

The demands of the corporate<br />

traveller are becoming more<br />

challenging too. Budgets have<br />

contracted, yet the travel needs of<br />

businesses have largely remained<br />

the same. In fact, many travel<br />

managers believe the cost of travel<br />

is actually increasing.<br />

So, where does that leave the<br />

travel management company?<br />

“Defining our value as travel<br />

professionals is perhaps the<br />

biggest challenge facing TMCs<br />

today,” says Euan McNeil,<br />

General Manager of FCM Travel<br />

Solutions, part of the Flight<br />

Centre group in South Africa.<br />

“Corporate travel agents were<br />

in the past transactional and<br />

earned their revenue based on the<br />

transactions they performed on<br />

behalf of the client – booking a<br />

flight or hotel, changing the date<br />

of a ticket etc. With the advent of<br />

travel technology, customers have<br />

become empowered (although not<br />

necessary inclined) to conclude<br />

some of these transactions<br />

themselves. The result is that the<br />

transactional part of the job of<br />

travel agent has been eroded, and<br />

the requirement by customers is<br />

thus a more consultative approach.<br />

Herein lies the challenge, as TMCs<br />

work to define and communicate<br />

effectively the consultative value<br />

they bring to the end customer<br />

and determine what to charge for<br />

that value.”<br />

McNeil touches on the essence<br />

of the thread that will be explored<br />

throughout this piece, as there<br />

is no doubt that technological<br />

advancement has had the greatest<br />

impact on the role that TMCs now<br />

play, as it relates to their clients.<br />

“Every TMC is currently under<br />

“ Defining our value as<br />

travel professionals is<br />

perhaps the biggest challenge<br />

facing TMCs today. ”<br />

pressure to showcase their<br />

value to clients due to enhanced<br />

technology available in the<br />

market,” says Yasmeen Khan,<br />

Head: <strong>Business</strong> Development,<br />

Corporate at Wings Travel. “This<br />

requires a consistent approach in<br />

terms of managing the clients’<br />

travel spend and demonstrating<br />

in various ways the true value of<br />

our partnership.”<br />

“Our challenges are the same<br />

as most TMCs,” says Bronwyn<br />

Humphries, Marketing Co-<br />

Ordinator, Harvey World Travel<br />

Franchise Support Team. “This<br />

would be new competitors in<br />

the market as well as online<br />

travel agents. There’s also a<br />

definite shift to online tools for<br />

corporate clients, with corporates<br />

more likely to book their own<br />

‘bleisure’ trips, for example,<br />

along with cutting their costs.”<br />

22 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


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FEATURE – TMCs<br />

TECHNOLOGY<br />

“Corporate travel is finally<br />

starting to learn lessons from the<br />

consumer travel space, mostly<br />

because business travellers have<br />

been trained by their leisure travel<br />

to expect robust booking tools<br />

and more control over their trips,”<br />

says Andrew Sheivachman, Senior<br />

Writer at Skift, an intelligence<br />

platform providing media, insights<br />

and marketing to key sectors of<br />

travel. “The travel management<br />

companies that focus the most on<br />

improving their traveller-facing<br />

technology will win this battle,<br />

and improve their clients’ travel<br />

experience in the process.”<br />

So, what are TMCs doing to<br />

stay ahead of the game and<br />

remain relevant? Specifically, what<br />

technology and services are they<br />

developing to remain of value to<br />

their clients? One way is to go the<br />

‘whole hog’ and develop your own<br />

tech.<br />

“At Tourvest Travel Services we<br />

have developed our own online<br />

travel management solution<br />

called Travelit (see page 18), which<br />

was developed not just with the<br />

customer in mind, but also the<br />

travel consultant,” says Claude<br />

Vankeirsbilck, Chief Sales &<br />

Marketing Officer. “This means<br />

our travel consultants work on<br />

the same technology platform<br />

as our clients, offering full<br />

transparency and a more efficient<br />

service delivery process. There are<br />

weekly product enhancements and<br />

developments driven by our own<br />

developmental team. This allows<br />

TTS to be more competitive, more<br />

efficient in service delivery, and<br />

ultimately offer more value to<br />

our customers, as our technology<br />

solution adds value to the<br />

customer’s bottom line.”<br />

That’s the key, isn’t it?<br />

Adding value by recognising<br />

the complementary relationship<br />

between the TMC and the<br />

technology. It seems almost<br />

obvious to say that those TMCs<br />

who view technology as a threat<br />

are dead in the water. It’s all<br />

about embracing the tech out<br />

there, identifying which tech<br />

complements the TMC’s existing<br />

offering, and then rolling it out in<br />

a way that provides the customer<br />

with that value and ultimately<br />

strengthens the supplier-customer<br />

relationship.<br />

“One of the biggest challenges<br />

is the accessibility that a traveller<br />

now has to a range of pricing<br />

across various consolidator<br />

websites etc,” says Khan. “In<br />

order to be ahead of the game,<br />

Wings Travel Management has<br />

developed its own proprietary<br />

technology in order to integrate<br />

such developments outside of<br />

our normal reservations system,<br />

thereby enhancing content and<br />

ensuring that we offer the best<br />

price to our customers.”<br />

The Wings model is slightly<br />

different from other TMC<br />

models in that the group favours<br />

wholly-owned global offices over<br />

franchise agreements, but the<br />

benefits of that model extend into<br />

the tech space.<br />

“Our Wings ® globallyowned<br />

offices allow us to truly<br />

standardise our sales platforms<br />

across the globe by giving our<br />

“ <strong>Business</strong> travellers have<br />

been trained by their leisure<br />

travel to expect robust<br />

booking tools and more<br />

control over their trips. ”<br />

24 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


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FEATURE – TMCs<br />

clients consistent and reliable<br />

data, and offering them access<br />

to all our proprietary products,”<br />

says Khan. “Wings ® boasts a<br />

reporting tool which is accessible<br />

via URL and includes live data<br />

with many enhanced features,<br />

offering clients a snapshot view of<br />

their travel spend, travel patterns<br />

and detailed insights into traveller<br />

behaviour, allowing a proactive<br />

approach in terms of managing<br />

their spend.”<br />

Another area where Wings has<br />

focused its technological efforts<br />

is the increasingly important duty<br />

of care space. It recently launched<br />

goSecure, a risk management<br />

solution for their clientele<br />

that allows them to track and<br />

communicate directly with their<br />

travellers via a mobile application,<br />

coupled with the Wings24<br />

emergency contact centre, which<br />

manages risk and traveller safety<br />

on behalf of Wings’ clients.<br />

For McNeil, the technology<br />

has to be complementary, and he<br />

believes a lot more thought needs<br />

to be given to this area before<br />

a TMC rolls out the latest tech.<br />

Specifically, he believes there<br />

almost needs to be a ‘division<br />

of labour’ between what the<br />

technology can offer and what<br />

the TMC and its staff are best<br />

equipped to focus on.<br />

“To remain relevant and<br />

viable, it is essential that we use<br />

technology to drive automation<br />

and improve service for our<br />

mutual benefit,” he says. “Noncomplex<br />

bookings should be<br />

automated, freeing up skilled<br />

travel professionals to focus on<br />

areas in which they can truly add<br />

value beyond the transaction,<br />

for example in the areas of data<br />

analysis, duty of care and supplier<br />

negotiations.”<br />

To this end, FCM has developed<br />

a chatbot (see sidebar) in the<br />

United States. It’s called ‘Sam’ and<br />

promises the expertise of a skilled<br />

FCM consultant available at all<br />

times: pre, during, and post-trip.<br />

Sam is a travel-savvy chatbot<br />

that can assist with all aspects of<br />

travel – itineraries, gate changes,<br />

driving directions, weather,<br />

restaurant recommendations and<br />

reservations. There’s also ‘call or<br />

SMS my consultant’ functionality,<br />

which gives travellers access to a<br />

live FCM consultant 24 hours a<br />

day for live assistance on the go.<br />

“Every travel programme should<br />

have technology that clearly<br />

focuses on improving the traveller,<br />

travel booker and travel manager's<br />

experience,” says McNeil. “That’s<br />

whether it be by improving the<br />

booking experience through<br />

mobile apps, improving security<br />

through better duty of care tools,<br />

or maximising spend visibility<br />

through enhanced data analytics.<br />

As we look to the future, the<br />

discussion around artificial<br />

intelligence (chat bots, virtual<br />

assistants, etc.) is beginning<br />

to become common-place<br />

internationally – once again to<br />

fulfil a certain type of transaction<br />

through technology. This in<br />

turn helps to improve the level<br />

of efficiency for our clients, but<br />

also help to enhance the TMC’s<br />

ability to leverage their expertise<br />

and personalise the customer’s<br />

experience through technology.”<br />

While it’s interesting that FCM<br />

has delved into the chatbot space<br />

with Sam, Humphries of Harvey<br />

World Travel makes a telling<br />

observation regarding the uptake<br />

of technology, as it relates to this<br />

group’s clients.<br />

“ Every travel programme<br />

should have technology<br />

that clearly focuses on<br />

improving the traveller,<br />

travel booker and travel<br />

manager's experience. ”<br />

26 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


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FEATURE – TMCs<br />

ABTA SURVEY<br />

Almost 60% of corporates say TMCs<br />

are ‘good to great’ at helping them<br />

manage compliance within their travel<br />

policy, according to a recent study<br />

conducted by FCM Travel Solutions<br />

and the African <strong>Business</strong> Travel<br />

Association (ABTA) among travel buyers<br />

in South Africa.<br />

Over 80% of South African corporates<br />

polled in the study indicated that their<br />

employees rarely or only occasionally<br />

booked out of policy and that in most<br />

cases, this non-compliance was from<br />

senior management.<br />

Achieving compliance at a time<br />

when corporate travel is becoming<br />

increasingly consumerised requires a<br />

more flexible approach, according to<br />

ABTA founder Monique Swart.<br />

“<strong>Business</strong> travellers are demanding<br />

personalisation and relying on the same<br />

tools they use and travel experiences<br />

they have in their personal lives,”<br />

she says. “The indication, thus, that<br />

over 70% of surveyed corporates’<br />

policies are strict or rigid should raise<br />

concerns.”<br />

“The survey also indicated that only<br />

30% of corporates actually consider<br />

and cater to the needs of their<br />

business travellers regularly and more<br />

than half were not concerned about<br />

the negative impacts of business travel<br />

on their travelling staff and trying to<br />

mitigate these. Traveller friction has an<br />

impact not only on the staff member,<br />

but also their ability to perform to<br />

achieve company goals.”<br />

Among those most-cited areas of<br />

anxiety for South African business<br />

travellers were flight delays, missed<br />

flights and perceived poor service from<br />

airlines and hotels. Corporates that<br />

are aware of the impact of traveller<br />

friction say they are looking at ways in<br />

which to mitigate the effects, including<br />

limiting travel where possible and<br />

introducing traveller-centric policies,<br />

including ‘bleisure’ and wellness<br />

programmes.<br />

The study further showed that among<br />

those most desired ancillaries by<br />

business travellers in South Africa<br />

are seat selection, access to airport<br />

lounges and good service, with onboard<br />

entertainment and on-board wi-fi<br />

being the least-demanded ancillaries.<br />

From a sharing economy perspective,<br />

almost 90% of business travellers are<br />

using Uber and Airbnb for business<br />

travel purposes, according to the study.<br />

As many as 40% are doing so without<br />

the permission or endorsement of their<br />

companies.<br />

Technology in the corporate travel<br />

space is clearly important to South<br />

African companies.<br />

“The survey found that over 65%<br />

of corporates like to use all the<br />

technology that is relevant to them,”<br />

says Swart. “There is a cost associated<br />

with this, however, and with cost<br />

savings being one of the key objectives<br />

of a company’s travel programme,<br />

technology should be used to help with<br />

cost cutting efforts.”<br />

“We offer our own in-house<br />

corporate booking tool for clients<br />

who require this,” she says.<br />

“However, interestingly, in recent<br />

months we have seen a shift in<br />

business from online travel agents<br />

back to the traditional Harvey<br />

World Travel Stores.”<br />

So, whilst technology obviously<br />

has a huge role to play in travel<br />

management going forward, there<br />

are going to be instances where<br />

travel managers and/or travellers<br />

will defer to the consultant for<br />

that human touch. How the two<br />

elements co-exist is explored<br />

further in the chatbot sidebar.<br />

PRESSURE ON FEES<br />

Of course, the threat of, or greater<br />

influence of, technology is not<br />

the only challenge facing travel<br />

management companies.<br />

Spend is down in the corporate<br />

space and TMCs are having<br />

to fight hard to justify their<br />

fees. Again, as is the case with<br />

technology, these TMCs are under<br />

pressure to ‘show value’ and prove<br />

their worth.<br />

“We do find an extraordinary<br />

amount of focus on a cost that<br />

equates to less than 8% of the<br />

overall total costs of a corporate<br />

travel programme,” says<br />

Vankeirsbilck. “Our focus as TTS<br />

is to find value opportunity where<br />

we actively encourage clients to<br />

focus their attention on the overall<br />

cost of their travel programme,<br />

rather than just the service fees,<br />

by focusing on travel policy<br />

adherence, traveller behaviour,<br />

travel supplier consolidation, and<br />

technology solutions, which will<br />

achieve far greater savings on<br />

their total cost of travel rather<br />

than saving a relatively small<br />

amount on service fees. It is<br />

imperative for a TMC to add value<br />

to a client’s total cost of travel<br />

programme, and this is where the<br />

true value is derived.”<br />

McNeil agrees that the<br />

discussion needs to move away<br />

from the transaction fee.<br />

“In the current economic<br />

environment, procurement<br />

departments are under pressure<br />

to drive cost savings, and one<br />

of the easiest targets within the<br />

travel procurement space is the<br />

28 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Engage<br />

travellers<br />

with options that work<br />

for them and for your<br />

company.<br />

To learn more about how BCD Travel can help you and your organization’s<br />

travel programme, contact us at sales@bcdtravel.co.za or on +27 11 274-4000<br />

or visit www.bcdtravel.com<br />

Copyright © 2017 BCD Travel. Unauthorized reproduction strictly prohibited.


FEATURE – TMCs<br />

transaction fee,” he says. “While<br />

TMCs could add great value in<br />

helping procurement departments<br />

derive savings within their<br />

travel programme by proactively<br />

managing their travel spend,<br />

the knee-jerk requirement to cut<br />

costs sees corporates appointing<br />

TMCs based on the cost of the<br />

transaction fee and the result then<br />

is a zero-sum game where TMCs<br />

are introducing unsustainable<br />

pricing levels just to stay in the<br />

game. Standard annual increases<br />

are becoming harder to pass in<br />

an environment where customer<br />

expectations from their TMCs are<br />

increasing: better service, more<br />

expertise and technology. We are<br />

increasingly seeing customers<br />

wanting commission and override<br />

payments without any expectation<br />

that their TMC’s service<br />

fees would have to increase<br />

commensurately.”<br />

Ole Mortensen is a partner in<br />

AMM Consulting in Denmark, and<br />

he believes that fee structures need<br />

to change, if TMCs “want to regain<br />

some of the power they’ve lost.”<br />

TRAVEL BOTS<br />

FCM has its own travel bot called Sam, an “itinerary<br />

management tool on steroids”, according to Euan McNeil,<br />

FCM GM for South Africa. Sam has been released in the<br />

USA and is expected to be launched early in 2018 in South<br />

Africa.<br />

McNeil believes Sam will be how most business travellers<br />

interact with their travel programme in the future and<br />

explains that corporate travellers can book a car and hotel<br />

themselves and complete the booking without having to<br />

work with a consultant.<br />

Travel policy will also not be a problem for Sam.<br />

“We will have a generic policy based on best practice in<br />

the market,” says McNeil. “Then, if customers want to take<br />

their full travel policy and load that into Sam, there will be<br />

a level of commercial uplift.”<br />

Ben Lamm, CEO of Conversable, agrees that if successfully<br />

integrated with a company’s travel policy, bots will be able<br />

to match the user’s preferences and information with the<br />

businesses’ requirements around travel.<br />

“To keep track of all travel, most policies require that<br />

travel is booked through a specific company or channel,”<br />

he says. “Because bots serve as a single access point for<br />

multiple sources of information, travellers will be able to<br />

access more options from more places, giving them more<br />

flexibility within the framework of the travel policy.”<br />

So, is there a ‘shared’ future for TMCs and travel bots?<br />

“Travel bots, such as Sam, have been developed to provide<br />

an additional interface for travellers, which will complement<br />

but never replace the skills and insights of the TMC,” says<br />

McNeil. “The travel expert will always have a key role to<br />

play when it comes to managing business travel for large<br />

corporations as well as SMEs.”<br />

According to Norm Rose, President of Travel Tech<br />

Consulting, travel chatbots could also be deployed to<br />

handle redundant questions such as policy questions,<br />

baggage fees, customer support, and limited booking<br />

capabilities.<br />

“Progressive TMCs could use chatbots to reduce call<br />

volumes by answering simple questions about policy or<br />

travel options,” he says.<br />

With smartphone adoption nearing 100% and considering<br />

that an average business traveller checks their smartphone<br />

34 times a day, it’s not difficult to understand the<br />

popularity and attraction a mobile or virtual assistant holds.<br />

The nearly ubiquitous adoption of smartphones by the<br />

modern business traveller, says Lamm, means that a digital<br />

solution to travel needs is now a business imperative for<br />

the corporate travel industry.<br />

The travel bot is the perfect technological answer to<br />

address the business traveller’s need and desire to manage<br />

their trip on their own, and give them much-needed<br />

freedom within framework. TMCs can make use of bots to<br />

improve their service to travellers in a format the travellers<br />

desire in a cost-effective way.<br />

“If corporations are going to succeed in winning over the<br />

largest generation in the world today and improve retention<br />

rates within a group that is notorious for changing paths<br />

quickly, building in freedom within framework will certainly<br />

be a company imperative,” says Lamm.<br />

30 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


According to Mortensen,<br />

that ‘power’ has decreased<br />

substantially because:<br />

- The internet suddenly made<br />

the opaque airfare structure<br />

transparent<br />

- Customers insisted on working<br />

with transparency, showing<br />

and selling net fares<br />

- Online booking engines<br />

enabled the traveller control<br />

over their booking<br />

- Metasearch engines increased<br />

transparency<br />

- Low-cost carriers launched<br />

new business models<br />

“It has become clear that the<br />

business model needs to change<br />

to benefit not only the TMC but<br />

also the airlines, other vendors<br />

and the travel managers,” says<br />

Mortensen.<br />

“I still strongly believe in<br />

making a retail multi-source<br />

structure where customers are<br />

forced to compare total price, as<br />

it will benefit the travel managers<br />

and suppliers in the long run.<br />

Travel managers will have a<br />

harder time considering and<br />

identifying the right supplier and<br />

evaluating their offerings and<br />

differential advantages. However,<br />

competition will force TMCs<br />

to develop more products and<br />

services.”<br />

In closing, what Mortensen<br />

suggests is the following, in terms<br />

of “future pricing models”:<br />

- Subscriptions based on the<br />

hours a travel manager/<br />

company may need for a TMC<br />

- Consulting, including<br />

management information and<br />

other soft services, at hourly<br />

pricing<br />

- If the TMC offers duty of<br />

care, a subscription based on<br />

number of travellers<br />

- Vendor negotiation per hour<br />

- Concierge arranging VIP<br />

and group travel charges<br />

reasonable fee structure<br />

ensuring profit for the vendor<br />

“Many other services have a<br />

similar structure and while it will<br />

move focus away from bookings, it<br />

will start a much-needed change<br />

for the industry,” he says.<br />

Food for thought.<br />

CONCLUSION<br />

All of this adds up to a<br />

challenging environment for TMCs<br />

and a difficult one in which to<br />

prosper.<br />

As always, those that survive<br />

and indeed are successful, are<br />

going to be those that embrace the<br />

change that technology offers, use<br />

it to their advantage, and integrate<br />

it in such a way as to remain<br />

relevant and of value to their<br />

customers.<br />

That will be key to the TMC<br />

success of the future. C<br />

MEASURING<br />

PROGRESS,<br />

EXPANDING<br />

OPPORTUNITIES.<br />

Copyright © 2015 CWT<br />

SHINE WITH PROGRAM SERVICES BY CWT<br />

Turning data into information to understand your travel program’s performance can be<br />

complex and time‐consuming. Carlson Wagonlit Travel helps you put all the facts into context,<br />

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‘Local Leisure at its Best’<br />

campaign shows business<br />

travellers the benefits of<br />

taking a relaxing sho’t left<br />

southafrica.net<br />

asata.co.za<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 33


SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM PROMOTION<br />

South Africa is a beautiful and multi-faceted country. The sun shines almost all year<br />

round. The beaches, mountains, bushveld, large cities and small towns across all nine<br />

provinces offer unforgettable experiences, and of course, South Africans are friendly and<br />

warm people. Travelling around and exploring our country is the perfect antidote to our<br />

everyday workplace and personal stresses, yet nowhere near enough South Africans take<br />

the time to enjoy a sho’t left (a short leisure trip or getaway).<br />

This is exactly what the<br />

‘Local Leisure at its<br />

Best’ project is all about:<br />

helping to entrench a<br />

culture of holiday travel by adding<br />

a rejuvenating leisure component<br />

to business trips.<br />

Spearheaded by South African<br />

Tourism and the Association of<br />

Southern African Travel Agents<br />

(ASATA), the campaign aims<br />

to show corporates the benefits<br />

of extending their employees’<br />

business trips to include a few<br />

days of leisure experiences by<br />

putting the rejuvenation back<br />

into business travel through a<br />

selection of affordable tailored<br />

travel deals.<br />

“The health and wellness<br />

benefits of leisure travel are well<br />

documented,” says Sthembiso<br />

Dlamini, Chief Operating Officer<br />

at South African Tourism.<br />

“People who are encouraged<br />

to take time out to enrich<br />

themselves with holidays – even<br />

short weekend trips – tend to<br />

be more relaxed, motivated and<br />

productive employees. They are<br />

less likely to be stressed and more<br />

likely to stay in the company’s<br />

employ, as they feel valued and<br />

incentivised.”<br />

She says that business travel<br />

offers the ideal opportunity for<br />

corporates to reward employees<br />

in a cost-effective manner, by<br />

combining business travel with<br />

holiday add-ons.<br />

The campaign started with a<br />

process to upskill more than 50<br />

travel consultants to sell domestic<br />

business-to-leisure travel.<br />

“Equipping these agents, who<br />

traditionally deal with business<br />

travel, with the skills to sell leisure<br />

travel add-ons is immensely<br />

beneficial to their business as<br />

well as enhancing their business<br />

offering,” says Dlamini.<br />

The pilot phase of the ‘Local<br />

Leisure at its Best’ project was<br />

rolled out in Gauteng in the<br />

second half of 2016, and was<br />

so successful that it has now<br />

been extended to the rest of<br />

the country, with dozens of<br />

activations taking place at various<br />

companies between February and<br />

December this year.<br />

“We are very pleased with<br />

the success of this campaign<br />

so far,” says Dlamini. “It has<br />

already surpassed its target<br />

of reaching 10,000 potential<br />

business-to-leisure travellers. By<br />

the end of July, we had already<br />

completed 16 on-site activations<br />

at corporates, reaching more than<br />

13,000 prospective travellers and<br />

generating close to 100 enquiries.<br />

Another 16 activations have been<br />

secured for the remaining five<br />

months of the campaign, and<br />

there are over 40 customers in the<br />

pipeline.”<br />

The campaign ties in with<br />

South African Tourism’s new ‘5 in<br />

5’ strategy to attract five million<br />

tourists (four million additional<br />

international and one million<br />

more domestic) in the next five<br />

years.<br />

Dlamini expressed confidence<br />

that through this partnership and<br />

working with top corporates in<br />

various industries, including the<br />

banking, telecommunications and<br />

government sectors, more South<br />

Africans will get the opportunity<br />

to take a sho’t left and enjoy<br />

the country’s abundance of<br />

attractions.<br />

“ We are very pleased with<br />

the success of this campaign so<br />

far. It has already surpassed<br />

its target of reaching 10,000<br />

potential business-to-leisure<br />

travellers. By the end of July,<br />

we had already completed<br />

16 on-site activations at<br />

corporates, reaching more<br />

than 13,000 prospective<br />

travellers and generating close<br />

to 100 enquiries. Another<br />

16 activations have been<br />

secured for the remaining<br />

five months of the campaign,<br />

and there are over 40<br />

customers in the pipeline. ”<br />

September is Tourism Month in South Africa,<br />

making it the perfect time to get out and explore the<br />

country. It overlaps with International Tourism Day<br />

on 27 September, when the whole world highlights<br />

the value of social, cultural, political and economic<br />

tourism.<br />

The timing of World Tourism Day comes at the end<br />

of the northern hemisphere’s high season and the<br />

beginning of the season in the southern hemisphere,<br />

when tourism is on the minds of millions of people<br />

worldwide.<br />

34 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Eastern Cape<br />

South Africa’s ‘wild’ province, the Eastern Cape features expanses of untouched beach, bush and forest. This was Nelson<br />

Mandela’s home province, and is an area with some enticing attractions – among them the Addo Elephant National Park,<br />

with the densest elephant population in the world; the dramatic Wild Coast; and, of course, Mandela’s home at Qunu.<br />

WILD COAST<br />

Tap your inner explorer and head to the Wild Coast,<br />

so named for its rugged natural beauty and myriad of<br />

adrenaline-filled adventures. From fishing expeditions and<br />

horseback rides, to hiking and 4x4 trails, the Wild Coast is<br />

an unspoiled natural treasure. The Wild Coast is also known<br />

for its shipwrecks, a legacy of its wild and tempestuous<br />

nature. Water activities like snorkelling and diving provide<br />

a spectacular view of the world beneath the waves while<br />

spotting lost treasure and other relics from shipwrecks.<br />

HOGSBACK<br />

Named after three distant ridges of the Amathole range<br />

of mountains that resemble the back outlines of running<br />

wild pigs, the little town of Hogsback has become an<br />

arts and crafts colony, a photographer’s picture perfect<br />

setting, a nature lover’s haunt and romance personified for<br />

honeymooners.<br />

PORT ELIZABETH<br />

With stunning beaches, interesting museums and memorials,<br />

award-winning wildlife destinations, it’s easy to see why<br />

Port Elizabeth is home to South Africa’s friendliest folk!<br />

This coastal hub has a range of mesmerising cultural and<br />

historical experiences that are worth exploring, including the<br />

Red Location Museum, the Donkin Reserve and the Nelson<br />

Mandela Metropolitan Museum.<br />

ADDO ELEPHANT PARK<br />

The 2,500 hectare Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth<br />

is rated as one of the best places in Africa to see elephants<br />

up close. It is also South Africa’s third-largest reserve,<br />

encompassing five of South Africa’s nine biomes, with an<br />

enormous diversity of species and vegetation. The park is<br />

also home to buffalo, lion, leopard and rhino, and in the<br />

marine section you will find great white sharks and southern<br />

white whales, which means that South Africa’s Addo is one<br />

of the few reserves in the world that can boast having the<br />

Big Seven!<br />

NELSON MANDELA<br />

To give a true overview of Nelson Mandela in all phases of<br />

his life, from his youth in Qunu to his role as statesman,<br />

the Nelson Mandela Museum built in his honour comprises<br />

three separate structures: the Bhunga Building in Mthatha,<br />

accommodates an exhibition tracing Nelson Mandela’s<br />

journey, as told in his own words, and narrated in part from<br />

his acclaimed biography A Long Walk to Freedom; the Qunu<br />

component and an open-air museum at Mvezo where Madiba<br />

was born.<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 35


Gauteng<br />

Be a GeePee and enjoy South Africa’s smallest province, an urban playground with large shopping malls, bars, hotels,<br />

casinos, and a vibrant cultural and entertainment scene. For heritage buffs, there are a myriad of attractions of historical<br />

interest that tell the story of the country’s emerging democracy.<br />

THE CRADLE OF HUMANKIND<br />

The Cradle of Humankind, one of eight World Heritage sites<br />

in South Africa, and the only one in Gauteng, is touted as<br />

the place where humankind originated. The area boasts 13<br />

excavation sites that are recognised as national heritage<br />

sites. For those wanting to experience the birthplace of<br />

humankind first-hand, the official visitor centres for the<br />

Cradle of Humankind, Maropeng and the Sterkfontein<br />

Caves, are within an easy hour’s drive from Johannesburg.<br />

Maropeng is a world-class exhibition centre that focuses on<br />

the development of humans and our ancestors over the past<br />

few million years.<br />

CULLINAN<br />

The attractive little village of Cullinan, about a 30-minute<br />

drive east of Pretoria, was a pioneering mining settlement<br />

that made its name with the discovery in 1905 of the<br />

world’s biggest diamond, the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond.<br />

Highlights in Cullinan include rides on the vintage steam<br />

train, Dinokeng’s Big Five reserve, adrenalin-filled activities<br />

at the adventure zone and the opportunity to learn about the<br />

area’s mining heritage.<br />

SHOPPING<br />

Gauteng is a shopping mecca. From Sandton City to the Mall<br />

of Africa, Menlyn in Pretoria and Maponya in Soweto, there’s<br />

a bustling shopping centre to tame your credit card around<br />

every corner. Gauteng hosts an annual shopping festival<br />

every year in September or October, with mall promos held<br />

throughout the year. There are also a range of flea markets<br />

that are definitely worth a visit, the most popular being the<br />

Rosebank Sunday Market, the Neighbourgoods Market in<br />

Braamfontein and the Bryanston Organic Market.<br />

SOWETO<br />

Soweto is a must for people from all over the world, and<br />

all South Africans should visit this iconic township. The<br />

Hector Pieterson Museum recounts the 1976 Soweto Student<br />

uprisings and some of the heroes of the protest and victims<br />

of the aftermath. Nearby is the Mandela House in Vilakazi<br />

Street, the only street in the world that contains the houses<br />

of two Nobel Prize Laureates, the other one being Desmond<br />

Tutu. There is also a string of vibrant restaurants including<br />

Sakhumzi’s Restaurant, Nexdor, Thrive Café and the Corner<br />

House which usually have a fascinating variety of regular<br />

patrons plus a vibrant selection of street musicians and<br />

performers who are usually brilliantly entertaining.<br />

APARTHEID MUSEUM & GOLD REEF CITY<br />

Located alongside each other, Gold Reef City and the<br />

Apartheid Museum are both must-visits on any trip to<br />

Gauteng. Modelled to resemble a gold rush town and<br />

showcase the gold-rich history of Johannesburg, Gold Reef<br />

city comprises a theme park, casino, restaurants, movie<br />

theatre and the Lyric Theatre that is well-known for its<br />

live performances. The theme park has some of the most<br />

modern and scariest rides in Africa – such as the Tower of<br />

Terror which has a 50m drop at a speed of 100 kilometres<br />

per hour and a fear factor of 10/10. To remember our past<br />

while moving forward into a more stable political future,<br />

Gauteng’s Apartheid Museum serves to document the racial<br />

and economic divide that once plagued our nation. One<br />

cannot visit Gauteng without spending an afternoon at this<br />

incredible place.<br />

36 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Free State<br />

The Free State’s appeal lies in its scenic beauty, rural tranquillity and natural attractions. The eastern part of the<br />

province is the most beautiful, with its sandstone rock formations and rolling grassland. It also lies in the heart of South<br />

Africa and it borders six of the country’s nine provinces, as well as the kingdom of Lesotho.<br />

CLARENS<br />

The town of Clarens is known as ‘The Jewel of the Free<br />

State’ and is a must-see on any Free State trip. Take a walk<br />

down the main street and sample eateries, art galleries<br />

and arts and crafts shops galore. If you enjoy the outdoors,<br />

you’re in for a treat – experience white water rafting,<br />

4x4 safaris, horse trails and hikes in a truly spectacular<br />

landscape.<br />

BASOTHO CULTURAL VILLAGE<br />

On your way through the Golden Gate Highlands<br />

National Park, pop in at the Basotho Cultural Village for<br />

an interactive tour of traditional Sotho life from the 16th<br />

century to present day. You can also take a two-hour guided<br />

hiking trail to explore a nearby rock-art site and learn about<br />

the area’s medicinal plant growth.<br />

VREDEFORT DOME<br />

The oldest and largest crater on earth, the Vredefort Dome<br />

was caused when a massive meteorite struck the earth<br />

2,000 million years ago. The force of the impact caused<br />

the rock layers to bend, resulting in a semi-circular ring of<br />

mountains that are home to abundant bird and plant life –<br />

and the world’s only pink granite. Both Parys and Vredefort<br />

are located within the Vredefort Dome’s original impact<br />

area.<br />

CHERRY FESTIVAL<br />

Ficksburg presents the spectacular Cherry Festival each<br />

November. With live entertainment provided by well-known<br />

South African artists, festival activities include cherry tours,<br />

a golf classic, a half-marathon, cherry product competitions,<br />

veteran vehicle displays, equestrian events, beerfests and<br />

a food and wine fiesta. Watch the popular ‘Ready, Steady,<br />

Bake’ competition and see how cherry mampoer is made.<br />

GARIEP DAM<br />

The Gariep Dam is a staggering 100 kilometres long and 24<br />

kilometres wide. Take a guided tour through the passages<br />

inside the wall of South Africa’s largest dam, or sample the<br />

many water sport activities on offer: fishing, windsurfing,<br />

sailing, jet skiing, canoeing, rowing… and even gameviewing<br />

by boat! That’s right – there’s a well-stocked<br />

11,237-hectare game sanctuary on the dam’s northern shore.<br />

If you’re visiting in February, don’t miss the annual Gariep<br />

500 Rubber Duck Race and Watersport Festival.<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 37


KwaZulu-Natal<br />

Welcome to the Zulu Kingdom: an enticing, spectacular and fascinating multi-cultural showpiece destination flanked by<br />

the warm Indian Ocean on the east and soaring peaks to the west. KwaZulu-Natal has a wealth of scenic and cultural<br />

attractions that include the country’s most popular beaches lying to the south and north of Durban. Add to that its<br />

bushveld reserves to the north, historic battlefields and the dramatic Drakensberg mountains, and you can see why it’s<br />

popular with travellers.<br />

BATTLEFIELDS<br />

The battles fought in the rolling hills and valleys of northern<br />

KwaZulu-Natal some 120 years ago changed the course of SA<br />

history and still today, the area now known as the Battlefields<br />

seems to echo with heroic and tragic deeds of the past. The<br />

sites of famous skirmishes that rocked the British, weakened<br />

the Boers and broke the mighty Zulu nation continue to draw<br />

visitors. Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift are two of the most<br />

famous battlefields.<br />

UKHAHLAMBA-DRAKENSBERG<br />

The uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is one of the province’s<br />

two World Heritage sites. This one is part of a much longer<br />

mountain range that stretches some 1,600 kilometres from<br />

South Africa’s northernmost provinces to the Eastern Cape.<br />

Not only does the site protect a stunning natural mountain<br />

wilderness area, it also protects an amazing cultural legacy of<br />

ancient rock art in Africa pained by the San.<br />

ELEPHANT COAST<br />

The Elephant Coast borders Mozambique, Swaziland and the<br />

Indian Ocean. The region comprises 21 different ecosystems<br />

and is a veritable paradise of natural wonders. There are few<br />

places in Africa that can claim to have such an incredible<br />

diversity of fresh water ecosystems, which is why a large<br />

portion of the Elephant Coast, the iSimangaliso Wetland<br />

Park, has been designated a World Heritage site. The coastal<br />

dune system that runs along the 220km stretch of protected<br />

coastline comprises dunes that are among the highest<br />

forested dunes in the world, up to 180 metres high.<br />

DURBAN<br />

There is no city in SA quite like Durban. Due to its<br />

subtropical coastal climate, warm seas, beautiful swimming<br />

beaches and the variety of restaurants and nightlife, Durban<br />

has always been regarded as a holiday city. Durban’s rich<br />

cultural diversity is what gives it a vibrancy enjoyed by few<br />

other South African cities. The wonderful food, ceremonies<br />

and festivals have greatly enriched the city’s cultural<br />

landscapes.<br />

SOUTH COAST<br />

KZN’s south coast, with its string of small villages stretching<br />

from Port Edward in the south to Amanzimtoti in the north,<br />

and its pretty beaches and warm sea, has long been one of<br />

South Africa’s favourite year-round holiday destinations.<br />

Many of the south coast’s activities revolve around the ocean.<br />

For example, you can go snorkelling or scuba diving, surfing<br />

or whale watching. The Aliwal Shoal off Umkomaas and<br />

Scottburgh, and the Protea Banks off Shelley Beach are rated<br />

as some of the top shark diving sites in the world.<br />

38 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Limpopo<br />

Limpopo has become a sought-after tourist destination for its big game, exceptional birding, untamed bush landscapes<br />

and an ancient African kingdom, the centre of which was located at Mapungubwe National Park. It is also the northern<br />

gateway to the Kruger National Park.<br />

THE WATERBERG<br />

The Waterberg is a true natural wonder, featuring ancient<br />

mountains, a rich tapestry of biodiversity, thousandsyear-old<br />

rock art and a site of critical archaeological and<br />

palaeontological importance. Its rolling savannahs also make<br />

it a popular safari destination where large herds of buck and<br />

the Big Five can be seen.<br />

MAPUNGUBWE<br />

About the time of the Dark Ages of Europe, the royal court<br />

at Mapungubwe in Limpopo welcomed traders and men<br />

of influence from Arabia and the Far East. Only in recent<br />

decades have the fascinating details of this ancient city been<br />

uncovered. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Mapungubwe<br />

was once the capital of a country as large as Swaziland,<br />

surrounded by more than 200 satellite towns. The most<br />

intact artefact found at Mapungubwe is that of a gold rhino<br />

figurine which today is under safekeeping at the University of<br />

Pretoria.<br />

MODJADJI CYCAD RESERVE<br />

The Modjadji Cycad Reserve holds the largest concentration<br />

of a single cycad species in the world. These majestic plants<br />

are some of the oldest and largest of their kind on the planet<br />

and are found in the realm of the legendary Rain Queen. The<br />

Modjadji Cycad Reserve is set in the foothills of blue-green<br />

mountains above the village of Modjadji near Tzaneen. Some<br />

of the cycads here reach heights of 13m and bear cones that<br />

weigh in at a hefty 34 kilograms.<br />

PAFURI<br />

The Kruger National Park is not just about big game. In the<br />

north is the Pafuri region, a wilderness area of great natural<br />

beauty where you can discover ancient forests, brilliant<br />

birding and traces of early humankind. The northern section<br />

of the Kruger National Park is an area of unique biodiversity.<br />

It’s one of the few places where fever tree forests grow side by<br />

side with forests of giant baobabs. The trees line the banks of<br />

the Limpopo and Luvuvhu rivers.<br />

PRIVATE GAME RESERVES<br />

Limpopo offers dozens of superlative private game lodges<br />

situated in prime wildlife areas, including the Waterberg,<br />

Welgevonden, Klaserie and Timbavati reserves. Sometimes<br />

more affordable than some of the other lodges in northern<br />

South Africa, these reserves boast game galore, including the<br />

Big Five, scenic beauty and often fewer visitors.<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 39


Mpumalanga<br />

Mpumalanga means ‘the land of the rising sun’ in the local siSwati and Zulu languages, a name it derives from lying<br />

on the eastern border of the country. It is most famous for being the southern gateway to the country’s premier wildlife<br />

reserve, the Kruger National Park. It is a place of game, adventure and rich history.<br />

PANORAMA ROUTE<br />

On the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga, with its breathtaking<br />

vistas around every mountain corner, waterfalls<br />

plunging down faces of sheer rock, memories of the gold rush<br />

following you as you meander down an endless river canyon,<br />

and eagles hovering above your head – you can’t help walking<br />

with your head in the clouds. Attractions include the Blyde<br />

River Canyon, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and God’s Window.<br />

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK<br />

The Kruger National Park is renowned not only for its<br />

diversity of wildlife, but also for its conservation record. You<br />

can see the famed Big Five, but you’ll also be dazzled by<br />

hundreds of birds, ancient trees, mighty rivers and much,<br />

much more. The Kruger National Park gets over 1.4 million<br />

visitors a year, but because it’s so big – 352 kilometres from<br />

north to south, and covering over 1.9 million hectares – you<br />

will be amazed at how often you are alone watching game on<br />

a 2,500-kilometre network of tar and dirt roads.<br />

PILGRIM’S REST<br />

The village of Pilgrim’s Rest is a settlement lost in time. Here<br />

you can walk in the footsteps of early gold prospectors and<br />

relive the heady days of pioneers, garter-snapping barmaids<br />

and highway robbers. You can also stay over in an historic<br />

hotel and drink in a legendary bar. Pilgrim’s Rest is situated<br />

on the magnificent Panorama Route of the Mpumalanga<br />

province. The entire village is a tourist attraction and was<br />

declared a National Monument in 1986. Today, Pilgrim’s Rest<br />

is a living monument to the feverish gold rush days of the late<br />

1800s.<br />

WATERFALL ROUTE<br />

Mpumalanga is one of South Africa’s most scenic provinces<br />

and when you drive through the Panorama region or visit<br />

the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, you’ll see why. But<br />

it’s not only canyons, mountains and seemingly limitless<br />

horizons that are waiting for you, there’s also the Sabie<br />

Waterfalls Route. There are more waterfalls here than<br />

anywhere else in southern Africa, and you’ll be astonished<br />

by their beauty and diversity. Forget the Big Five and that<br />

magnificent canyon for a while, set aside a day or two, and<br />

take yourself on a waterfalls tour.<br />

BARBERTON<br />

The ‘Gold Rush’ town of Barberton is situated in the heart of<br />

Mpumalanga’s Makhonjwa Mountains. With its mild Lowveld<br />

winters, rich history and wide array of things to see and<br />

do, Barberton is the perfect year-round holiday destination.<br />

Monuments to Barberton’s golden past can still be seen along<br />

the Heritage Walk, while mining tours and gold panning<br />

experiences give a taste of what life would be like. Yet there<br />

is more to Barberton than gold. The mountains that surround<br />

Barberton contain some of the rarest rocks on the planet and<br />

the Geotrail transports visitors 3.5 billion years back in time<br />

to witness some of the earliest life on Earth!<br />

40 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


North West<br />

The North West province features premier wildlife destinations, among them the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and the<br />

Madikwe Game Reserve; parts of two UNESCO World Heritage sites (the Vredefort Dome and the Taung Fossil Site, part<br />

of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site); and the world-famous Sun City gaming and entertainment resort.<br />

MADIKWE GAME RESERVE<br />

Located near the border of Botswana, Madikwe Game<br />

Reserve, one of South Africa’s foremost Big Five malariafree<br />

reserves, was envisaged not by conservationists, but<br />

by economists. They found conservation would create more<br />

income and jobs than the existing land-use, which was cattlefarming.<br />

This successful reserve is now a model that has<br />

inspired South African conservation. The reserve has a host<br />

of private game lodges providing luxurious bush experiences.<br />

PILANESBERG GAME RESERVE<br />

See the Big Five just two hours from Johannesburg and<br />

Pretoria in one of the country’s most popular wildlife areas –<br />

Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Set in an ancient volcanic crater,<br />

this well-stocked reserve has a dramatic landscape that<br />

supports a wide variety of plants, animals and birds. As a<br />

true Big Five area it features elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard<br />

and rhino. But there’s a lot more wildlife to discover. Some<br />

of the other animals that roam the park include African wild<br />

dogs, brown hyenas and sable antelope.<br />

MAGALIES MEANDER<br />

The Magaliesberg Mountains is home to the inviting Magalies<br />

Meander arts and craft route. You’ll also encounter warm<br />

country hospitality when you visit the art galleries, arts and<br />

craft centres and interesting boutiques the area is famed for,<br />

before coming to roost at any one of many attractive lodges<br />

and restaurants along the Magalies Meander. The mountains<br />

are also home to an amazing variety of indigenous woodland,<br />

plants, birds and wildlife – a nature lover’s paradise.<br />

SUN CITY<br />

The Sun City theme park in the North West province is part<br />

of the Sun City resort and entertainment complex, offering a<br />

myriad of leisure and recreation options for the entire family.<br />

Known worldwide for its exotic entertainment options, the<br />

Sun City theme park is more a mini-city than a park, with so<br />

many attractions and entertainment options that first-time<br />

visitors may find it pleasantly bewildering. Activities run the<br />

gamut from adventure sports and safari options to a worldfamous<br />

golf course and a wide variety of rides and games to<br />

keep the children happily busy.<br />

HARTBEESPOORT DAM<br />

Hartbeespoort Dam is a popular weekend and day trip. The<br />

dam and surrounding areas offer a host of outdoor activities,<br />

from a variety of water sports to flights of every description.<br />

Hikes, walks and trails complete the region’s compelling<br />

outdoor adventure activities. Hartbeespoort Dam is the area’s<br />

major attraction and the heart of this tourism region. A<br />

mecca for adventure pursuits, the majority of Hartbeespoort<br />

adventure activities are centred on the dam and its<br />

magnificent mountain and bushveld surrounds.<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 41


Northern Cape<br />

The Northern Cape is the largest of South Africa’s provinces but has the smallest population, making it one of the more<br />

remote areas of the country. Among its key selling points are its vast, open spaces, unique vegetation – including the<br />

beautiful spring flower spectacle that transforms a semi-desert landscape – and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is<br />

famous for its lions.<br />

AUGRABIES FALLS<br />

At the Augrabies Falls you will be awed by the water<br />

thundering down the gorge. Particularly when there has been<br />

plenty of rain and the Orange River is overflowing, you will<br />

experience the full might of the water as it thunders down the<br />

56-metre-high falls. There are also plenty of other attractions<br />

to explore nearby, including a wide variety of flowers and<br />

animals, and the inimitable views from the Moon Rock.<br />

KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK<br />

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was declared in 2000,<br />

formalising an ecological entity that was already there.<br />

Tourists love it, but this inspiring wilderness has given rise<br />

to something more. Now there are ideas of linking this<br />

gigantic conservation area to others nearby. The Kgalagadi<br />

Transfrontier Park straddles the border between South Africa<br />

and Botswana, a semi-desert of red dunes and starry skies.<br />

KIMBERLEY<br />

Kimberley, thanks to the fevered diamond rush of the 1870s,<br />

has a glittering past. Take a guided tour of a once-operational<br />

diamond mine, which descends a staggering 840 metres<br />

below the earth. Start your exploration of the city at its main<br />

attraction: the Big Hole. Imagine a hand-dug hole the size of<br />

eight football fields and you have some idea of the labour that<br />

went into creating the Big Hole. Adjacent to the Big Hole is<br />

the Kimberley Mine Museum, which brings to life the way of<br />

the city during the frenetic days of the diamond rush.<br />

NAMAQUALAND<br />

In spring the Namaqua National Park is painted orange by<br />

exuberant daisies. The distant mountains, the roads, the<br />

rocks, the trees and straggly shrubs of the succulent Karoo<br />

are completely transformed by a lively array of spring flowers.<br />

Every year the timing of the flowers and their quantities<br />

vary somewhat. But somewhere between August and the<br />

beginning of October, this dusty stretch of land springs to<br />

flowering life for a few intense weeks.<br />

SUTHERLAND<br />

Sutherland is a world-renowned astronomical centre in South<br />

Africa. The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is<br />

situated on a mountain top 14 kilometres out of town and is<br />

known to be one of the best star-viewing destinations in the<br />

southern hemisphere. Sutherland is also a great place from<br />

which to explore the Upper Karoo.<br />

42 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Western Cape<br />

The scenic splendour of the Western Cape has long been a drawcard in South Africa. This is where you’ll find the Cape<br />

Winelands and a beautiful stretch of coastline. Most visitors list Table Mountain, Robben Island (where the late Nelson<br />

Mandela was incarcerated) and a visit to the Cape of Good Hope, at the tip of the Cape Peninsula, as priorities.<br />

TABLE MOUNTAIN<br />

Table Mountain is South Africa’s best-known landmark, but<br />

what many don’t know is that it is also a hiker’s paradise<br />

with numerous trails, amazing views and plenty of interesting<br />

facts to learn. Table Mountain has some remarkable features<br />

that make it a great destination for nature-lovers, deserving<br />

of more than just a quick cable car ride to see the view from<br />

the top. The mountain forms part of Table Mountain National<br />

Park, which is globally recognised for its biodiversity, and<br />

contains truly unique fauna and flora.<br />

ROBBEN ISLAND<br />

At times a leper colony, mental hospital and defence training<br />

base, the Robben Island World Heritage site is more famed<br />

as the prison to which anti-apartheid activists, among them<br />

former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, were banished.<br />

Visitors to the island are able to see the cell in which<br />

Mandela, the world’s most famous prisoner, as he was known<br />

for many years, spent 18 years of his 27-year incarceration.<br />

GARDEN ROUTE<br />

The Garden Route is a mix of modern golf courses, ancient<br />

forests, secluded artists’ communities, retirement estates,<br />

modern malls, craft centres, mountain hideaways and beach<br />

holidays. A large number of interesting and creative people<br />

drawn to this magnificent stretch of coastline have made it<br />

home. The main arterial highway through The Garden Route,<br />

a highlight on most visitors’ itineraries, is the N2 stretch<br />

running from Heidelberg in the Southern Cape to Storms<br />

River Village on the Eastern Cape border.<br />

CAPE WINELANDS<br />

The Cape’s 18 official wine routes and two brandy routes<br />

are among the most scenic in the world, featuring many<br />

historic wine estates that date back centuries. Take your time<br />

exploring this magnificent part of South Africa’s Western<br />

Cape province and enjoy sampling its magnificent wines<br />

and brandies. Most Cape wine estates are characterised by<br />

classic Cape Dutch-style buildings and massive vineyards<br />

with picturesque mountains as a backdrop. Wine tasting,<br />

winemaking tours, excellent cuisine and magnificent scenery<br />

collectively create an irresistible attraction for international<br />

and local travellers alike.<br />

CAPE WHALE ROUTE<br />

The Cape Whale Route is a superb outdoor adventure family<br />

holiday destination. Incorporating towns such as Betty’s Bay,<br />

Kleinmond, Hermanus, Pringle Bay, Stanford and Gansbaai,<br />

the route offers some of the best land-based whale-watching<br />

spots on the planet, as well as many activities for the whole<br />

family. The road trip from Betty’s Bay along the coast toward<br />

the other towns on the Cape Whale Route is a peaceful<br />

experience, with the Atlantic Ocean on the one side and<br />

mountainous, fynbos terrain on the other.<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 43


PACKAGES<br />

EASTERN CAPE<br />

STORMS RIVER ADVENTURE<br />

Spend a day kayaking up the Storms River mouth, under the<br />

suspension bridge and up through the gorge with its ancient<br />

forests and deep caves. Swap from kayaks onto relaxing<br />

inflatable lilos and float deeper into the gorge. For the<br />

adventurer, there is an opportunity to dive off an overhanging<br />

cliff into the cool waters of the river below. Your base for the<br />

weekend is a private log cabin deep in the Tsitsikamma Forest<br />

and we also include a canopy tour through the forest to enjoy<br />

during your stay.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ accommodation at the Tsitsikamma Lodge with<br />

breakfast and dinner daily. 2h30 kayak and lilo trip up the Storms<br />

River. 2h30 Tsitsikamma Canopy tour.<br />

TSITSIKAMMA SCUBA<br />

Learn the basics of scuba diving on a visit to the Tsitsikamma<br />

Marine Park situated on the beautiful Garden Route. Spend<br />

two nights staying at the Tsitsikamma Lodge within close<br />

proximity to the many attractions in the area. Take part in a<br />

four-hour beginners scuba course (or book a dive if you are<br />

more experienced) setting off from Storms River mouth, which<br />

will give you a taste for open water diving. It is a real privilege<br />

to dive in the protected marine park and the Tsitsikamma reefs<br />

are abundant with soft corals and fish life.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ accommodation at Tsitsikamma Lodge<br />

with breakfast and dinner daily. Half-day introduction to scuba<br />

diving course.<br />

GAUTENG<br />

SANDTON, SUSHI AND SHOPPING<br />

Enjoy a luxurious weekend at the five-star Hilton Hotel in<br />

Sandton, within close proximity to the newly revamped<br />

Sandton City Shopping Complex, one of the most upmarket<br />

malls in Johannesburg. Learn from the head chef at the<br />

hotel’s well-known sushi bar how to make beautiful and tasty<br />

creations from basic maki to the more complicated Californian<br />

roll.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ accommodation at the five-star Hilton Hotel in<br />

Sandton. R500 per person shopping voucher at Sandton City. Evening<br />

at Lotus Restaurant, including a sushi course, dessert buffet and<br />

certificate.<br />

PRETORIA GASTRO EXPERIENCE<br />

The luxurious Orient Hotel located in the Frankolin<br />

Conservancy in the Crocodile River Valley in Pretoria is a<br />

wonderful spot for a breakaway within easy driving distance of<br />

both Johannesburg and Pretoria. The boutique hotel is furnished<br />

in a Moorish style featuring intricate wooden carvings, temple<br />

pillars, smoky fireplaces and wooden balconies overlooking the<br />

valley. Enjoy nature walks in the conservancy, explore the inhouse<br />

Tienie Pritchard Sculpture Museum and enjoy a meal at<br />

the renowned Mosaic restaurant known for providing ethically<br />

sourced farm to table gastronomic experiences.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation at The Orient<br />

Hotel. R500 per person voucher towards dinner at Mosaic.<br />

FREE STATE<br />

FICKSBURG STEAM TRAINS<br />

Bright pink cherry blossoms and historic steam trains make<br />

the quaint Eastern Free State town of Ficksburg a popular<br />

weekend holiday hotspot and base from which to explore the<br />

magnificent Maluti mountains. A visit in April or May will<br />

see you exploring all things ‘choochoo’ at the Steam Heritage<br />

Festival, where you’ll have an opportunity to travel aboard the<br />

restored locomotives as the collection sets out on its annual<br />

journey chugging out of Ficksburg and along the tracks that<br />

meander through the mountains. Alternatively, a visit during<br />

November will coincide with the renowned Cherry Festival.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ accommodation in a three-star guest house in<br />

Ficksburg with breakfast and dinner daily.<br />

PARYS ART AND ADVENTURE<br />

The home of artists and adventurers – Parys is just a short<br />

hop from Johannesburg and a great spot for a weekend escape.<br />

Visit the many art galleries, antique and craft shops located<br />

in town, enjoy a craft beer at one of the three breweries or try<br />

out the 52 flavours of mampoer available at the local distillery.<br />

The Vaal River and nearby Vredefort Dome offer a plethora<br />

of outdoor and adventure sport opportunities. From golf to<br />

hiking, cycling, rafting, horse riding, fishing, kayaking and<br />

sky diving, there is more than enough to keep one entertained.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ accommodation bed and breakfast at a three-star<br />

guest house in Parys. Sunday lunch ferry cruise down the Vaal River.<br />

44 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


KWAZULU-NATAL<br />

MIDLANDS BREAK AND BEER TASTING<br />

The rolling green hills of the Natal Midlands offer a meander<br />

with a difference - arts, crafts, leisure and cuisine experiences<br />

for every age and taste abound. Spend the weekend at<br />

Rawdons, a charming country hotel located on the edge of a<br />

lake. Notting Hill Brewery is located in the grounds and offers<br />

brewery tours and tastings of its cheekily named range of<br />

beers including the Pickled Pig Porter, Wobbling Wombat Ale,<br />

Tiddly Toad Lager, Tipsy Tiger IPA and the Pye-Eyed Possum<br />

Pilsner.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation at Rawdons<br />

Hotel and Estate. Nottingham Road Brewery tour.<br />

SODWANA SCUBA<br />

Sodwana Bay, located on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal,<br />

is South Africa’s prime diving spot. The warm tropical waters<br />

of the Indian Ocean are home to miles of coral reefs and are<br />

a diver’s underwater paradise. Spend five days at this coastal<br />

resort exploring the different reefs underwater. Diving courses<br />

are also available on request.<br />

Includes: Three nights’ accommodation in Sodwana in an en suite<br />

cabin. Dinner and breakfast daily, and five dives.<br />

LIMPOPO<br />

GOLF AND GAME<br />

Tee off in paradise, but don’t lose your wits or your ball on<br />

the spectacular Extreme 19th Hole, the world’s longest and<br />

highest par-3, a 351-metre shot to the green 400 metres below.<br />

Legend Golf and Safari Resort is located within the 22,000<br />

hectare Entabeni Safari Conservancy in the Waterberg Region<br />

of Limpopo Province and offers great golf, as well as luxury<br />

accommodation with sliding glass windows and private patios<br />

offering panoramic views of the African wilderness. Wake up<br />

early for a morning game drive in the Big Five game reserve.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ accommodation bed and breakfast at the Legend<br />

Golf and Safari Resort. R1000 per person voucher for golf or game<br />

viewing.<br />

LUXURY TIMBAVATI SAFARI<br />

Situated in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, part of the<br />

2.2 million hectare Greater Kruger Park, lies Kings Camp,<br />

an exclusive safari camp facing an open savanna plain and<br />

waterhole. The camp comprises eight suites, featuring Victorian<br />

ball-and-claw bathtubs, indoor and outdoor showers as well as<br />

private verandas with hammocks overlooking the bush. Enjoy<br />

two game drives a day, watching the sun rise and sun set over<br />

the beautiful bushveld. No dining experience is ever the same<br />

at the camp, from fine-service meals to boma braais and bush<br />

breakfasts, every meal is a memorable one.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ accommodation at Kings Camp Private Game<br />

Reserve. Three meals and two game activities daily.<br />

MPUMALANGA<br />

DULLSTROOM FISHING<br />

Renowned for its trout fishing and delicious pancakes, the<br />

charming town of Dullstroom is two and a half hours’ drive<br />

from Johannesburg. Spend the weekend at Critchley Hackle<br />

Lodge located around a picturesque dam and within easy<br />

walking distance of the quaint town’s pubs, craft shops and<br />

restaurants. Enjoy fine dining in the hotel restaurant and<br />

spend your time relaxing or fly fishing at the lake. Each suite<br />

features its own terrace and fireplace to warm the air on chilly<br />

evenings.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ accommodation at Savanna Private Game<br />

Reserve. Three meals and two game activities daily.<br />

LUKIMBI LUXURY AT THE KRUGER<br />

Set on a private concession within the Kruger Park, Lukimbi<br />

Safari Lodge offers guests a luxury game safari experience.<br />

The lodge boasts magnificent views over the Lwakahle River,<br />

an award-winning wine list and cellar. The spacious suites<br />

feature romantic mosquito-netted beds, private decks, indoor<br />

and outdoor showers and enormous bathtubs overlooking<br />

the bushveld. Head out on a game drive on one of the open<br />

vehicles or trail through the bush on a guided game walk<br />

through the park.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ accommodation at Lukimbi Safari Lodge. Three<br />

meals and two game drives daily.<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 45


PACKAGES<br />

NORTH WEST<br />

A PICNIC IN THE MAGALIESBURG<br />

Spend the weekend in peaceful contemplation picnicking on<br />

the banks of a quiet river in the heart of the Magaliesburg<br />

Mountains, an hour’s drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria.<br />

Budmarsh Country Lodge, your base from which to explore<br />

the rolling countryside, offers six-course, French-inspired<br />

dinners and a well-stocked cellar, in addition to preparing<br />

lavish champagne picnics for their in-house guests. Enjoy<br />

hikes in the mountains, fishing or explore the craft route of the<br />

Magalies Meander from this quiet country retreat.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation at the fivestar<br />

Budmarsh Country Lodge. R250 picnic voucher per person.<br />

A BIRD’S-EYE VIEW OVER HARTIES<br />

Wake up early and head off to the balloon launch site where<br />

you watch as the immense, billowy hot air balloons are<br />

inflated in the dark before dawn lights up the sky. Set off on<br />

your balloon safari, sipping champagne and drifting slowly<br />

over the Magaliesburg as the sun rises over the mountain<br />

range. You may catch a glimpse of Hartbeespoort Dam in<br />

the morning light. Return back to base for a hearty cooked<br />

breakfast to finish off the experience.<br />

Includes: Balloon safari for two and breakfast.<br />

NORTHERN CAPE<br />

AUGRABIES FALLS<br />

Hear the thundering waters of the Augrabies Falls which<br />

bring life-giving sustenance to an arid 800km national park<br />

characterised by granite rock and giant aloes. The falls drop an<br />

impressive 60 metres into the gorge below and record a flow<br />

rate more than three times faster than at Niagara Falls. Stay in<br />

a nearby lodge as a base to explore the National Park and take<br />

part in a number of activities such as fishing, nature paddling,<br />

game drives and hot air ballooning.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation at Dundi<br />

Lodge Augrabies Falls. Hot air balloon trip.<br />

KIMBERLEY BIG HOLE<br />

Gold rush fever may have left the Northern Cape town of<br />

Kimberley, but the icons of its hey-dey have not, most notably<br />

the famous Big Hole, which is an enormous open-pit mine,<br />

reputedly the largest hole ever excavated by hand. Tour the<br />

mine and the old town, perhaps enjoy a meal at the stately<br />

Kimberley Club and photograph the flocks of pink flamingos<br />

that live in the flat pans outside of town.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ accommodation at the Protea Hotel Kimberley.<br />

Kimberley Big Hole Tour.<br />

WESTERN CAPE<br />

SEAFOOD AND SURF IN PATERNOSTER<br />

The picturesque seaside town of Paternoster, situated on the<br />

West Coast, is one of the oldest fishing villages in the country.<br />

Characterised by quaint whitewashed cottages, azure sea views<br />

and blindingly white beaches strewn with wooden fishing<br />

boats, Paternoster is one of the prettiest coastal towns in<br />

the country. The town has become increasingly popular as a<br />

seaside getaway and has also become known for the quality of<br />

its seafood restaurants serving freshly caught fish, flavoursome<br />

West Coast oysters and other shellfish.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ accommodation in a traditional Paternoster<br />

fishing cottage. Two days Group A car hire including super cover and<br />

200km free per day.<br />

CHEESE, WINE AND CHOCOLATE TOURING<br />

Enjoy some R&R in a quaint country cottage located on the<br />

50-hectare idyllic Chamonix Wine and Game Estate in the<br />

Franschhoek valley. The luxury cottages are set in secluded spots<br />

on the edge of the estate’s forest offering breath-taking views of<br />

the mountains for you to enjoy with your complimentary bottle of<br />

fine Chamonix wine. We also include a full-day cheese, wine and<br />

chocolate tour of the winelands including tastings at Fairview<br />

Cheesery, Tokara Wine Farm and the Bilton estate, whose dark<br />

Belgian chocolate tasting is paired with fine wines.<br />

Includes: Two nights’ accommodation at Chamonix Estate in<br />

Franschhoek. Two days Group A car hire including super cover and 200km<br />

free per day. Full-day Cheese, Wine and Chocolate tour of the Winelands.<br />

46 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS<br />

AND EXPLORE THIS<br />

BEAUTIFUL LAND<br />

From the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape to the<br />

roaming wildlife of the Kruger National Park,<br />

South Africa is an untapped wonderland of<br />

unforgettable experiences. It’s all just a Sho’t Left away.<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 47


FEATURE – ZIMBABWE<br />

Treading<br />

water<br />

48 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Zimbabwe has endured sanctions, an unstable currency, and<br />

continued speculation about its future. However, this land-locked<br />

Southern African country has much untapped potential that<br />

many believe could be harnessed, should Zimbabwe see a political<br />

regime change in the near future.


FEATURE – ZIMBABWE<br />

Robert Mugabe has been<br />

Zimbabwe's only ruler<br />

since 1987 and has<br />

dominated the country's political<br />

landscape since independence.<br />

Under his rule, the country has<br />

battled to survive a struggling<br />

economy, widespread shortages<br />

of basic commodities, sporadic<br />

violence and hyperinflation.<br />

The economy of Zimbabwe is<br />

mostly dependent on agriculture<br />

and mineral resources, with<br />

the mining industry the largest<br />

driver, accounting for almost half<br />

of the country’s exports. Mass<br />

unemployment, though, is still<br />

rife, and policy inconsistency,<br />

as well as a lack of investment<br />

security, remain huge obstacles<br />

to promoting investment in<br />

Zimbabwe.<br />

Saying this, tourism, led by the<br />

stunning Victoria Falls area, is<br />

seeing a revival.<br />

The big question is, who will<br />

succeed Mugabe, who is already<br />

in his 90s? The veteran leader has<br />

struggled to set the economy right<br />

since his re-election in 2013 and<br />

now faces increasing pressure as<br />

sections of his own Zanu-PF party<br />

appear to be pressing for a change.<br />

FACT FILE<br />

Time zone: GMT+2<br />

Plugs: Three-prong square<br />

Dialling code: +263<br />

Currency: US dollar<br />

Language: English, Shona,<br />

Sindebele<br />

The 2018 general election will<br />

be the second under the new<br />

constitution, which allows a<br />

president to serve for a maximum<br />

of two five-year terms. Mugabe<br />

has, under this new rule, only<br />

served one term, so is eligible<br />

to run, although it’s unclear<br />

whether he will pass the baton<br />

of leadership to a party member<br />

or stand himself. Opposition<br />

parties are looking to form a<br />

coalition government to challenge<br />

the reigning leadership, a move<br />

which is gaining support from<br />

Zimbabweans.<br />

All of which makes for a fairly<br />

unstable environment, although<br />

not everyone sees this as a bad<br />

thing.<br />

“Politics play a role in business<br />

travel everywhere, and what<br />

we find is that when a country<br />

is facing challenges politically,<br />

business travel can actually<br />

increase, with NGO, media, and<br />

entrepreneurial opportunists<br />

growing,” says Glenn Stutchbury,<br />

CEO of Cresta Hotels.<br />

CITIES<br />

The capital city Harare is the most<br />

populated city in Zimbabwe and<br />

the country’s primary business<br />

travel destination. Set in the<br />

natural garden of the Zimbabwe<br />

Highveld, 1,500 metres above sea<br />

level, Harare is a friendly city of<br />

flowering trees and gardens and<br />

a temperate climate. Don't miss<br />

the Harare gardens, Mbare market<br />

and museum on your visit.<br />

Bulawayo is the second largest<br />

city located south-west of Harare.<br />

The Zimbabwe International Trade<br />

Fair is located here and is the<br />

largest intra-regional trade fair<br />

south of the Sahara, providing the<br />

largest, most convenient trade hub<br />

in the region.<br />

Zimbabwe's most popular tourist<br />

and MICE destination is Victoria<br />

Falls, home to the greatest curtain<br />

of falling water in the world. (See<br />

sidebar)<br />

The Great Zimbabwe Ruins in<br />

Masvingo and the Khami Ruins in<br />

Bulawayo are among the world’s<br />

most well-preserved ancient cities.<br />

In addition, the Hwange Game<br />

Reserve is the country’s largest<br />

wildlife sanctuary and home<br />

to one of the largest elephant<br />

populations in Africa. Lake Kariba<br />

is also a popular destination for<br />

game viewing and fishing.<br />

AIRPORTS<br />

Harare’s airport is the largest in<br />

the country, situated 10 kilometres<br />

from the centre of town. There<br />

are shops and small restaurants in<br />

the airport. Most of the airlines,<br />

including Emirates, SAA, BA<br />

(operated by Comair), Kenya<br />

Airways, Air Zimbabwe and<br />

Ethiopian Airlines do offer airside<br />

lounge facilities to their first and<br />

business class passengers. The<br />

airport security and customs x-ray<br />

systems are extremely thorough,<br />

though. Taxis, airport shuttles<br />

and transfers by car are the most<br />

popular forms of transport to and<br />

from the city.<br />

“Harare International is clean<br />

and functional,” says Mark<br />

50 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Your AfricA,<br />

our LegAcY...<br />

<strong>Business</strong> or leisure, our hotels<br />

offer the discerning traveller a<br />

variety of options to suit every<br />

need. Beautiful accommodation,<br />

sumptuous dining and<br />

complimentary Wi-Fi are just a<br />

few ways we’d like to make your<br />

stay a memorable one!<br />

Bookings and Enquiries<br />

Contact Central Reservations<br />

Tel: +27 11 8066888<br />

hotels@legacyhotels.com<br />

www.LegacyHotels.com


FEATURE – ZIMBABWE<br />

COMMENT<br />

Mark Havercroft: <strong>Business</strong> Development & Hospitality<br />

Operations Director: Legacy Hotels & Resorts<br />

The dollarization of the country definitely improved things. However, earning a<br />

stable currency made life really expensive, and a long history of hyperinflation<br />

and daily fluctuation in prices have blinded sellers to the true value of the US<br />

dollar. So they’ll casually say there’s a 20% increase. That’s massive. You need<br />

to understand this to do business in Zimbabwe. Often you can reduce the price<br />

of items by half. The IT industry in Zimbabwe is also on the rise. Three million<br />

people possess smartphones and they’ve become very tech savvy. The latest<br />

development is a company called Get Cash, which is basically a virtual wallet.<br />

You can pay for goods from your smartphone without the need of physical cash.<br />

Social media is also widely used. It’s giving more and more people a voice to<br />

communicate with the rest of the world. It’s definitely a growing industry in<br />

Zimbabwe.<br />

Elephant Hills<br />

Monomotapa Hotel<br />

Monomotapa Hotel<br />

Havercroft, <strong>Business</strong> Development<br />

& Hospitality Operations Director<br />

for Legacy Hotels & Resorts. “The<br />

relevant authorities are efficient<br />

and the services on offer are more<br />

than adequate for all but the most<br />

discerning traveller. There are at<br />

least three business lounges and<br />

countless coffee shops and bars<br />

available in departures.”<br />

“The check-in experience can be<br />

long, especially in economy, but<br />

immigration tends to be fast,” says<br />

Stutchbury. “The x-ray machines<br />

are set very sensitive at Harare<br />

International, so remove your belt,<br />

shoes, watch and everything from<br />

your pockets and you won’t then<br />

be sent back. On your way in,<br />

don’t stress that all luggage gets<br />

scanned as you go to the Green<br />

Route, as this is normal for Harare<br />

and moves quickly. The arrivals<br />

hall appears disorganised, but it<br />

flows – just make sure you have<br />

your forms filled out before, know<br />

your visa requirements, and have<br />

exact change for your visa.”<br />

Fastjet began operations into<br />

Zimbabwe in 2014 from Dar<br />

es Salaam. The airline set up a<br />

Zimbabwean arm in 2015 and<br />

currently flies internally between<br />

Harare and Vic Falls, as well as<br />

regionally to South Africa and<br />

Tanzania.<br />

Other airlines that land in<br />

Harare include Air Botswana<br />

from Gaborone, Air Namibia<br />

(which also flies to Vic Falls),<br />

from Windhoek, Airlink from<br />

Johannesburg, and LAM from<br />

Mozambique.<br />

As the country’s national carrier,<br />

Air Zimbabwe connects Harare,<br />

Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. BA<br />

(operated by Comair) offers flights<br />

to Vic Falls from South Africa,<br />

while SAA reaches Bulawayo and<br />

Vic Falls in addition to Harare.<br />

July saw Airlink add six weekly<br />

flights between Cape Town and<br />

Vic Falls, and the response has<br />

been good.<br />

“The route is proving extremely<br />

popular and we are already<br />

looking at increasing capacity,”<br />

says Rodger Foster, CEO of<br />

Airlink.<br />

The new Victoria Falls<br />

International Airport (see sidebar)<br />

opened last year, and has been<br />

well received.<br />

52 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Welcome to Zimbabwe for<br />

the warmest hospitality<br />

Lodge - Harare<br />

DDH&M/CRE14329<br />

Oasis - Harare<br />

Jameson - Harare<br />

For Reservations contact<br />

Tel: +263 4 788 161/2 or +263 4 487 006/8<br />

Email: reservations@cresta.co.zw<br />

www.crestahotels.com<br />

Lodge - Harare<br />

Sango Conference Centre<br />

Jameson<br />

Oasis<br />

Churchill<br />

Sprayview<br />

Victoria Falls


FEATURE – ZIMBABWE<br />

VICTORIA FALLS<br />

Victoria Falls is Zimbabwe’s shining light, thanks to its stunning natural beauty<br />

and obvious appeal as a leisure travel and MICE destination.<br />

It already has a number of big events – including this year’s EAI International<br />

Conference for Research, Innovation and Development for Africa and the<br />

African Finance Association Conference – on its CV, but the region’s new airport<br />

has just added another dimension to the offering, which also has a number of<br />

quality hotel brands represented, in the form of the likes of Legacy Hotels &<br />

Resorts, Cresta Hotels, African Sun and Africa Albida Tourism.<br />

Cresta Hotels CEO Glenn Stutchbury provides an interesting snapshot into just<br />

how Vic Falls’ growth compares with that of elsewhere in Zimbabwe.<br />

“The first half of 2017 has been a mixed bag with Harare showing an industry<br />

decline of 2%, Bulawayo an increase of 5% and Victoria Falls a massive growth<br />

of 17%,” he says. “The impact of the new airport, additional flights and larger<br />

aircraft has resulted in fantastic growth and the remainder of the year is looking<br />

very strong.”<br />

In March, SAA became the first airline to land a wide-bodied aircraft in Victoria<br />

Falls when its Airbus A330-200 touched down from Johannesburg. Also in<br />

March, Ethiopian Airlines launched four weekly flights from Addis Ababa utilising<br />

a Boeing 737, whilst in May, Kenya Airways launched three direct weekly flights<br />

from Nairobi.<br />

“These three airlines alone add 80,000 new seats per annum into Victoria Falls<br />

International Airport and the region, offering a huge opportunity for growth, as<br />

well as connecting new destinations with the incredible Victoria Falls hub and<br />

KAZA tourism region,” says Ross Kennedy, Chief Executive at Africa Albida<br />

Tourism.<br />

“The Victoria Falls airport is world class and, outside of South Africa, as good<br />

as any on the continent,” says Mark Havercroft, <strong>Business</strong> Development &<br />

Hospitality Operations Director for Legacy Hotels & Resorts, “although it cannot<br />

be denied that immigration procedures are time consuming for those visitors<br />

requiring visa entry.”<br />

HARARE HOTELS<br />

Cresta Hotels has the most<br />

comprehensive Harare offering of<br />

all the hotel groups, with three<br />

establishments in the city. The<br />

centrally-located Cresta Jameson<br />

has a 24-hour front desk, business<br />

centre, conference facilities,<br />

wi-fi connectivity, and a health<br />

and beauty spa, whilst Cresta<br />

Lodge Harare, on the outskirts<br />

of the city centre, has a similar<br />

mid-market, yet solid offering,<br />

in a different setting. The group<br />

also operates the Cresta Oasis,<br />

which is a hotel that also offers<br />

serviced apartments for long-term<br />

stays. Cresta also has the Cresta<br />

Churchill (see sidebar) in Bulawayo<br />

– a 50-room property that<br />

apparently “oozes Tudor charm” –<br />

and Cresta Sprayview in Vic Falls.<br />

The four-star Monomotapa<br />

Hotel, now under the management<br />

of Legacy Hotels & Resorts,<br />

overlooks Harare. It offers a mix<br />

of twin rooms, king leisure rooms<br />

and suites, and enjoys panoramic<br />

views of Harare, right on the<br />

doorstep of the city’s Central<br />

Park and Gardens. Zimbabwe’s<br />

National Gallery is a five-minute<br />

walk away and the renowned<br />

Botanical Gardens a short<br />

10-minute drive. There is also a<br />

variety of restaurants to choose<br />

from.<br />

Legacy has earmarked funds for<br />

the upgrading of the ground floor<br />

and public areas to the estimated<br />

tune of $22 million.<br />

There are also big plans for the<br />

area surrounding this hotel, with<br />

a vision to turn it into something<br />

akin to Johannesburg’s Sandton<br />

City, with offices, hotels, shops<br />

and recreation facilities. The<br />

Harare Gardens are in front of<br />

the hotel, and around the corner<br />

sits the National Art Gallery. The<br />

new owners have done a deal with<br />

the Harare City Council and will<br />

purchase 5.4 hectares of the park<br />

land, which will become part of<br />

the hotel.<br />

“We’re going to create a massive<br />

open-air restaurant in one corner,<br />

and then we’re going to build an<br />

800-seater convention centre that<br />

links the art gallery to the hotel,”<br />

says Havercroft.<br />

Following a deal concluded with<br />

African Sun in 2015, Legacy now<br />

54 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


CRESTA CHURCHILL<br />

REFURBISHMENT<br />

In May, Cresta Churchill in Bulawayo<br />

completed the first phase of renovations<br />

which began earlier this year. This and<br />

further phases aim to modernise the<br />

accommodation offering.<br />

Both standard rooms and suites now<br />

have completely refitted bathrooms,<br />

electronic keys have been introduced,<br />

flat-screen TVs and international plug<br />

points and USB chargers installed,<br />

and there has been the placement of<br />

new bedroom floors and a touch of<br />

repainting.<br />

“Cresta Churchill is the flagship<br />

hotel for Zimbabwe’s second city<br />

and this refurbishment will create an<br />

accommodation offering second to<br />

none, suitable for business and leisure<br />

travellers who make this their hotel of<br />

choice,” says Glenn Stutchbury, CEO of<br />

Cresta Hotels. “What we have sought<br />

is ease and convenience, as well as a<br />

classy, clean look that suits all travelling<br />

types, both local and international.”<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 55


FEATURE – ZIMBABWE<br />

manages four other Zimbabwe<br />

hotels – Elephant Hills and The<br />

Kingdom at Victoria Falls, Hwange<br />

Safari Lodge and the Troutbeck<br />

Resort. There are plans to<br />

eventually upgrade and refurbish<br />

all of these properties.<br />

Elephant Hills, with its 276<br />

rooms and conference facilities<br />

for 1,200, will undergo a soft<br />

refurb, with the bathrooms, airconditioning<br />

units and golf course<br />

receiving attention. The nowempty<br />

casino at The Kingdom will<br />

be converted into an 800-seater<br />

auditorium with breakaway<br />

rooms in the next nine months.<br />

In Hwange, a new executive chef<br />

has overhauled the menus and<br />

upgraded the kitchen facilities.<br />

There are also plans to build<br />

conference facilities for 100 people.<br />

Although no management<br />

agreements have been signed<br />

yet, Legacy is set to take over the<br />

management of two more hotels<br />

in the near future – Caribbea Bay<br />

in Kariba and the Great Zimbabwe<br />

Hotel in Masvingo – which will<br />

increase its Zimbabwe portfolio to<br />

seven.<br />

Looking at the other main<br />

hotels in Harare, the Meikles<br />

Hotel is a five-star property set in<br />

a prime location in the centre of<br />

the city. Local tourist attractions<br />

such as Eastgate Centre, African<br />

Unity Square and the National<br />

Art Gallery are not far from the<br />

hotel. Also nearby are the Harare<br />

Gardens, Queen Victoria Museum<br />

and National Museum. Dining<br />

facilities at Meikles include La<br />

Fontaine, a good restaurant worth<br />

trying. The hotel also offers<br />

transportation to/from the airport<br />

for an additional fee.<br />

The Bronte Hotel is renowned for<br />

its beautiful gardens and collection<br />

of Shona sculptures. Centrally<br />

located in the Avenues, within<br />

walking distance of downtown<br />

COMMENT<br />

GLENN STUTCHBURY - CEO: CRESTA HOTELS<br />

Cresta Sprayview<br />

There is no Uber in Zimbabwe and the prices of taxis can be cheeky. There<br />

are taxi ranks at most hotels and it’s best to get the rate before you drive.<br />

For businessmen doing many different appointments, sign up a taxi driver,<br />

negotiate a flat day rate and have him as your chauffeur for the day. There is<br />

also a service called G-Taxi which is Zimbabwe’s Uber - download the app,<br />

but remember to request a car way in advance and set a time, as cars are not<br />

as frequent as in Johannesburg, for example. Wi-fi hotspots are in shopping<br />

centres and airports, but it isn’t fast. Be careful not to incur large roaming<br />

costs. Restaurants vary according to the experience you are looking for and<br />

local knowledge is key, so ask your host and people you meet, as they will<br />

all have their favourites. Things to check before you travel to Zimbabwe:<br />

transfer to and from hotel; wi-fi and charges at hotel; back-up generator at<br />

hotel – there are serious power cuts and we all know what that can do to your<br />

productivity and personality!<br />

Harare, the Bronte offers wellappointed<br />

rooms and executive<br />

suites in a garden setting.<br />

Suited to both the business and<br />

leisure traveller, the amenities<br />

include complimentary wi-fi, two<br />

swimming pools, a fitness centre,<br />

complimentary breakfast buffet,<br />

secure on-site parking and fine<br />

dining at Emmanuel’s Restaurant.<br />

On Samora Machel Avenue,<br />

the Holiday Inn Harare is just<br />

200 metres from the CBD and<br />

12 kilometres from Harare<br />

International Airport. Mezzaninefloor<br />

meeting rooms can<br />

accommodate up to 250 guests.<br />

Dining is provided by the Silver<br />

Spur Steak Ranch restaurant, 24-<br />

hour room service, and the hotel<br />

restaurant.<br />

IHG also has the new Holiday<br />

Inn in Mutare, which the group<br />

opened in July. The franchised<br />

property is owned by African Sun<br />

and offers 96 rooms, an outdoor<br />

pool, and a meeting room for up to<br />

250 people.<br />

Rainbow Tourism Group is<br />

represented in Harare by two<br />

hotels. The Rainbow Towers<br />

Hotel and Conference Centre was<br />

refurbished in 2013 and has 304<br />

rooms, wi-fi and 24-hour room<br />

service. Dining is provided by four<br />

eateries – the Harvest Garden<br />

(buffet restaurant); the Kombahari<br />

Restaurant (Afro-Asian fusion);<br />

Teppan Yaki (Far East cuisine);<br />

and La Patiserrie, the hotel’s lobby<br />

coffee shop.<br />

Rainbow’s second Harare<br />

property, the New Ambassador<br />

Hotel, is located in the CBD,<br />

and is walking distance from<br />

the main financial, commercial<br />

and government institutions, as<br />

well as a host of shops, cinemas,<br />

restaurants, the National Museum<br />

and Art Gallery. It offers 72<br />

rooms, a business centre, wi-fi<br />

connectivity and three dining<br />

options. RTG also has the<br />

Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel – its only<br />

property in that city – and two<br />

hotels in Vic Falls, in the form of<br />

the A’Zambezi River Lodge and the<br />

Victoria Falls Rainbow Hotel.<br />

CARD ACCEPTANCE<br />

The de facto official currency is<br />

the US dollar and it is very much<br />

a cash economy. The South African<br />

56 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


and and British pound are also<br />

accepted, but you do not get a<br />

favourable exchange rate. Major<br />

international credit cards (Visa<br />

and MasterCard) are now accepted<br />

in most of the larger hotels,<br />

restaurants and shops, but many<br />

smaller establishments still do not<br />

have credit card facilities. Diners<br />

Club and American Express are<br />

often not accepted.<br />

There is currently a cash flow<br />

problem in the country and ATMs<br />

often restrict withdrawal amounts.<br />

“Currently, the impact of<br />

the cash crisis far outweighs<br />

the political situation,” says<br />

Stutchbury. “The key shortage is<br />

cash, and access to cash through<br />

ATMs is non-existent. This<br />

has an impact on the traveller,<br />

as their usual source of local<br />

currency is unavailable. <strong>Business</strong><br />

travellers are advised to bring<br />

US dollars with them in smaller<br />

denominations for certain basic<br />

transactions, although swipe<br />

machines are available almost<br />

everywhere and payment by<br />

Visa and Mastercard is easy.<br />

American Express and Diners<br />

should be avoided. Mobile money<br />

transactions are very common.”<br />

VISAS<br />

Travellers from the following<br />

African countries do not require<br />

visas to enter Zimbabwe:<br />

Botswana, DRC, Ghana, Kenya,<br />

Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius,<br />

Mozambique, Namibia, South<br />

Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo,<br />

Uganda, and Zambia.<br />

African countries whose<br />

nationals are granted visas at the<br />

port of entry on payment of the<br />

requisite visa fees ($30 – single<br />

entry): Egypt and Seychelles.<br />

All other African passport<br />

holders need to apply in advance.<br />

HEALTH<br />

Malaria is prevalent in large parts<br />

of the country, so do take the<br />

necessary precautions.<br />

Private medical centres offer<br />

excellent healthcare, especially in<br />

Harare, where quality treatment<br />

is available 24/7. There are also<br />

several ambulance companies who<br />

can undertake medical evacuation<br />

where necessary.<br />

There are also a number of<br />

emergency clinics offering good<br />

healthcare after hours, if you<br />

prefer avoiding a hospital.<br />

Drinking tap water is not<br />

advisable, although Victoria<br />

Falls does have its own water<br />

purification plant.<br />

CONTACTS<br />

zimbabwetourism.net<br />

gotovictoriafalls.co.za C<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 57


TRIED & TESTED/Hotel<br />

POLOKWANE, SOUTH AFRICA<br />

Sun Meropa Hotel<br />

BACKGROUND: The Meropa<br />

Casino and Entertainment World has<br />

been in operation for 15 years with<br />

accommodation supplied by a City<br />

Lodge hotel. In September 2016, Sun<br />

International broke ground on Sun<br />

Meropa and officially opened the hotel<br />

on 29 July with a grand celebration for<br />

its first hotel in the province.<br />

WHERE IS IT? In the Meropa Casino<br />

and Entertainment complex, about<br />

five kilometres from the N1 highway<br />

in Polokwane. It’s about a three-hour<br />

drive from Johannesburg.<br />

ROOM FACILITIES: The hotel offers<br />

60 three-star rooms, including six<br />

suites. The decorators went with a<br />

Moroccan theme – dark wood furniture,<br />

blue-and-white patterned tiles, accents<br />

of red splashed through the rooms<br />

– to complement the Moroccan-style<br />

architecture, with the two-storey<br />

hotel built around a central outdoor<br />

pool area. My room was compact and<br />

the space was used well. The work<br />

desk, with multiple easy-to-reach plug<br />

points, and tea-and-coffee station were<br />

separated from the sleeping area in<br />

an alcove by the window. It’s a small<br />

detail, but it really made a difference<br />

to the space. The bathroom was snug,<br />

with the shower door very cleverly<br />

doubling as the bathroom door, but it<br />

never felt tight. In the bedroom was a<br />

massive Samsung Smart TV with DStv<br />

which faced a king-sized bed.<br />

RESTAURANTS & BARS: The<br />

Kasbah Restaurant is situated next<br />

to the hotel’s reception. Dinner on<br />

this special occasion was a Moroccaninspired<br />

buffet. Appetisers included<br />

a prawn and avo salad, lentil and<br />

blueberry salad and hummus with a<br />

selection of breads served by passing<br />

wait staff. The main course consisted<br />

of dukkha-spiced peri-peri prawns,<br />

corn cakes, spicy pumpkin soup with<br />

croutons and beef and prawn skewers.<br />

The meal was rounded off with towers<br />

of colourful macarons, trifle cups,<br />

profiteroles in chocolate cages and<br />

chocolate mousse with caramel in pastry<br />

casings. The breakfast buffet offered the<br />

usual selection of fruit, cereal, pastries,<br />

cold meats, cheeses, scrambled eggs,<br />

bacon – both shoulder and streaky –<br />

mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns<br />

and sausages. There was also a flap jack<br />

and waffle station, complete with an<br />

assortment of toppings. While the wait<br />

staff were happy to bring coffee to my<br />

table, I had fun making espressos at the<br />

DIY coffee-pod machine. The Harvest<br />

Wine & Grill, next to the casino floor,<br />

serves a variety of dishes, from aged<br />

steaks and burgers to ribs, wings and<br />

chargrilled chicken. Jembe Tavern serves<br />

authentic African cuisine and offers live<br />

entertainment. The Ngoma Bar is located<br />

on the main casino floor, making it<br />

easy for players to grab a drink without<br />

stepping away from the action.<br />

BUSINESS & MEETING<br />

FACILITIES: There is a conference<br />

centre on site with capacity in the main<br />

hall to accommodate 600 delegates.<br />

The three smaller meeting rooms are<br />

perfect for intimate meetings of up to<br />

20 people. There is a single computer<br />

station next to the conference centre<br />

reception. There is wi-fi throughout<br />

the hotel. Both my Apple and Android<br />

devices picked up the connection<br />

automatically; I didn’t need to search or<br />

sign in once to use the service – a real<br />

plus.<br />

LEISURE FACILITIES: The Meropa<br />

entertainment complex offers a number<br />

of ways to unwind. There’s the go<br />

kart track for a bit of motorised fun;<br />

a Mangwanani day spa for a bit of<br />

pampering; a mini-golf course; a<br />

cultural village; the Magic Company<br />

with games for the kids; and the<br />

WildThingz bird and snake garden for<br />

a walk through nature. The casino,<br />

operational 24 hours a day, is a big<br />

draw card. It offers 417 slot machines<br />

and 17 gaming tables.<br />

VERDICT: A really great option for<br />

your next trip to Polokwane. Clean,<br />

comfortable accommodation, tasty food<br />

and friendly, helpful staff all make for<br />

an enjoyable stay. C<br />

Kate Kennedy<br />

CONTACT<br />

A: Plot 59, Sterkloop, Roodepoort Rd<br />

T: +27 15 290 5400<br />

E: hellomeropa@suninternational.com<br />

W: suninternational.com/meropa<br />

58 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


TRIED & TESTED/Flight<br />

SEATTLE-LONDON HEATHROW<br />

Virgin Atlantic B787 Upper Class<br />

BACKGROUND: Virgin Atlantic flies<br />

to nine destinations in the USA and it<br />

added a tenth, Seattle (Washington),<br />

this year.<br />

CHECK-IN: Check-in desks at Tacoma<br />

International Airport are placed right<br />

at the building entrance, with clear<br />

signage indicating which airlines are<br />

where. The driver dropped us off right<br />

outside the Virgin check-in desk,<br />

which meant that even with two bags,<br />

a backpack and a handbag, I didn’t<br />

require a trolley for my luggage. I<br />

wanted to check my bags all the way<br />

through to Johannesburg, and getting<br />

this sorted took a bit of time. I headed<br />

to security with my hand luggage<br />

and was treated to the full US airport<br />

experience. The full-body scan threw<br />

out a warning and I was thoroughly<br />

searched by a security guard before<br />

being allowed to gather my belongings<br />

and head for the boarding gate at<br />

the South Satellite terminal, which is<br />

accessed by means of a short train ride.<br />

LOUNGE & BOARDING: Virgin<br />

makes use of Delta Airlines' lounges<br />

at the Tacoma airport – one in the<br />

main terminal and one at the South<br />

Satellite terminal. Unfortunately, after<br />

my delay at security, I didn’t really<br />

have time to enjoy the Delta SkyClub<br />

lounge, but here’s what’s on offer:<br />

plenty of seating on two levels; airside<br />

views thanks to a two-storey high<br />

window wall; desks and plug points<br />

for laptop users; shower rooms; a spa;<br />

a buffet; and a bar. Boarding was an<br />

orderly affair with passengers called<br />

in sectors – passengers requiring<br />

assistance, families with small<br />

children, Upper Class and premium<br />

economy passengers, and then economy<br />

passengers.<br />

THE SEAT: Upper Class seats<br />

are angled diagonally and give all<br />

passengers aisle access. Seats convert<br />

to fully flat beds and with a mattress<br />

pad, duvet and pillow, make for a great<br />

bed in the sky. Once flat, the pods,<br />

which allow for a lot of privacy, offer<br />

a generous amount of sleeping space.<br />

Unlike other airline beds, you don’t<br />

have to cram your feet into a covered<br />

foot well and the arm rests don’t cut<br />

into your space. The TV screen is<br />

installed in the front and pops out on a<br />

moveable arm to allow for straight-on<br />

viewing. The in-flight entertainment<br />

system – a touch-screen TV monitor<br />

and handheld console – is easy to use<br />

and the selection of movies, TV shows,<br />

music and games is extensive. The foot<br />

rest, that becomes part of the lie-flat<br />

bed, allows you to put your feet up even<br />

during take-off and landing, a feature I<br />

enjoyed. There are a number of storage<br />

spaces for things like your shoes and<br />

cell phone.<br />

THE FLIGHT: Once I was seated, I<br />

was offered a sleep suit and lavender<br />

pillow spray for the overnight flight,<br />

then champagne and a newspaper.<br />

We pushed back on time and drinks<br />

and snacks were served shortly after<br />

take-off. The dinner service began with<br />

bread rolls after which came the most<br />

delicious beef fillet I can ever recall<br />

tasting, and not just on an aircraft; it<br />

was tender, moist and full of flavour<br />

and served with risotto, asparagus and<br />

a carrot puree. As the flight was full,<br />

the bathrooms were busy and I had to<br />

queue for my evening ablutions. The bar<br />

was also popular and I had to fight my<br />

way through a small crowd to reach the<br />

bathroom. My seat transformed into a<br />

bed with the push of a button and I was<br />

soon fast asleep, despite the revelry at<br />

the bar. I woke in time for a breakfast<br />

of oats, coffee and a croissant.<br />

ARRIVAL: The plane touched down<br />

at Heathrow on time and Upper Class<br />

passengers were the first to disembark.<br />

I was held up at the very strict transit<br />

security (thanks to a pot of jam I<br />

purchased at Tacoma International<br />

without forethought), but was soon on<br />

my way to the Virgin Clubhouse to wait<br />

out the nine-hour layover.<br />

VERDICT: A solid trans-Atlantic<br />

service with a great onboard product,<br />

especially in Upper Class. The Rituals<br />

products in the amenity kits were a real<br />

winner. C<br />

Kate Kennedy<br />

CONTACT<br />

W: virginatlantic.com<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 59


Q & A<br />

Milestone achievement<br />

Sally George<br />

Market<br />

Development<br />

Manager:<br />

Singapore Airlines<br />

Singapore Airlines has been flying to South Africa for 25 years, with its first flight landing in Johannesburg on<br />

29 March 1992. It began with a twice-weekly service using a Boeing 747-300 with one stop in Mauritius. Today, the<br />

airline offers a daily direct service between Singapore and Johannesburg; four of these flights extend to Cape Town.<br />

Sally George, Singapore Airlines’ Market Development Manager, took some time to answer a few questions about<br />

the airline and its history with Africa.<br />

Q: As it’s now 25 years since SIA<br />

first flew to South Africa, what<br />

was the background to the first<br />

flight and viability of the route?<br />

A: Flights were introduced at the<br />

time when South Africa was at<br />

the dawn of a new era and with<br />

the opening up on trade and<br />

travel restrictions.<br />

Q: What ‘type’ of business travel<br />

do you see on this route?<br />

A: A mixture of corporate and<br />

leisure as well as groups and<br />

incentives.<br />

Q: What was the business case<br />

for SIA bringing the A350 into the<br />

fleet?<br />

A: There was a strong demand<br />

for a bigger business class cabin<br />

as well as a premium economy<br />

product. We’ve increased our<br />

business class cabin with the<br />

A350 from 25 to 41 seats and<br />

upgraded the product offering.<br />

Q: SIA is expected to re-start its<br />

non-stop Singapore-US Flights?<br />

What has made this possible?<br />

A: Singapore Airlines has<br />

launched its new, daily, nonstop<br />

Singapore-San Francisco<br />

service using an A350-900ULR<br />

aircraft – the longest flight in<br />

our network. Flying time ranges<br />

between 14:35hrs and 17:45hrs<br />

depending on direction and time<br />

of year. Singapore Airlines is the<br />

launch customer for the A350-<br />

900ULR, for which deliveries will<br />

begin in 2018. The aircraft will be<br />

used to re-launch non-stop flights<br />

between Singapore and both New<br />

York and Los Angeles. SIA serves<br />

San Francisco twice-daily, with<br />

the other flights operating via<br />

Hong Kong. Singapore Airlines<br />

also serves Los Angeles via both<br />

Seoul and Tokyo, Houston via<br />

Moscow, and New York JFK via<br />

Frankfurt.<br />

Q: What can passengers expect<br />

in the SIA premium economy<br />

cabin?<br />

A: The cabin is laid out in a 2-4-2<br />

configuration. The seats are 19.5<br />

inches wide with eight inches of<br />

recline and 38 inches of pitch and<br />

offer one power outlet and two<br />

USB ports. The entertainment<br />

system is delivered on a 13.3-<br />

inch touchscreen HD monitor.<br />

Customers receive a 35-kilogram<br />

excess baggage allowance and<br />

priority baggage handling as<br />

well as 110% KrisFlyer miles of<br />

distance travelled. On board,<br />

passengers are offered a choice<br />

of three main meals, champagne<br />

and curated red and white wines.<br />

Q: How popular has premium<br />

economy been since SIA<br />

introduced the product on its<br />

South African route?<br />

A: Extremely. We have strong<br />

load factors with a mixture of<br />

leisure and corporate travel,<br />

especially during the traditional<br />

school holiday periods.<br />

Q: What are you doing to<br />

meet passenger demand for<br />

technological advancement and<br />

digitisation?<br />

A: The free SingaporeAir mobile<br />

app brings you a whole new way<br />

to enjoy KrisWorld. Discover<br />

what is playing on KrisWorld<br />

even before you step on board,<br />

shortlist your favourite movies,<br />

TV or music and control the<br />

media playback right from your<br />

personal electronic device. You<br />

just need to link your device to<br />

your seat, which will also allow<br />

you to view the current flight<br />

path and location and check<br />

updated flight information. This<br />

feature is currently only available<br />

on our A350s and selected B777-<br />

300ER aircraft.<br />

Q: Have you made any changes<br />

to your loyalty programme?<br />

A: There are no recent changes<br />

to the KrisFlyer programme,<br />

however on the PPS Club – for<br />

passengers travelling business<br />

or first class – there are a few<br />

updates. From 1 June, the PPS<br />

value accumulated on your<br />

travels may also earn you PPS<br />

Rewards. Once you’ve earned a<br />

PPS Reward, it will automatically<br />

appear in your KrisFlyer Account<br />

Summary, ready to be used for<br />

your next flight. Rewards include<br />

Double KrisFlyer Miles vouchers,<br />

which allows you to earn twice the<br />

miles for a single flight segment;<br />

a 50,000-mile discount on your<br />

next award flight or one-cabin<br />

class redemption upgrade; standby<br />

upgrade vouchers; and advanceupgrade<br />

vouchers, which allow<br />

you to apply for a one-cabin class<br />

upgrade at the point of booking.<br />

Q: Are there any plans to expand<br />

your African footprint beyond<br />

South Africa?<br />

A: We will consider venturing into<br />

new territories if it is commercially<br />

viable to operate. Currently we<br />

have a sales executive dedicated to<br />

many off-line territories in Africa<br />

to create more brand and product<br />

awareness in the region.C<br />

60 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


Q & A<br />

Tech savvy<br />

Andy Hedley<br />

General Manager:<br />

Amadeus Southern<br />

Africa<br />

Technology is advancing so rapidly that it’s hard to stay up-to-date with the ever-evolving nature of it. The technological<br />

applications in the travel sector are no different and we have companies like Amadeus to thank for providing industry<br />

players with ever-improving solutions. Andy Hedley, General Manager: Amadeus Southern Africa, offers some insight<br />

into the world of travel technology.<br />

Q: If Amadeus is no longer a<br />

GDS company, what is it?<br />

A: Amadeus provides the<br />

technology which keeps the travel<br />

sector moving – from an initial<br />

search to making a booking,<br />

from pricing to ticketing, from<br />

managing reservations to<br />

managing check-in and departure<br />

processes. Our ambition is<br />

to facilitate the entire travel<br />

journey from door-to-door,<br />

and in the process improve the<br />

travel experience for hundreds<br />

of millions of people every year.<br />

We do this by connecting key<br />

players in the travel industry; we<br />

give companies the tools to serve<br />

travellers better and to manage<br />

their own businesses more<br />

effectively.<br />

Q: What role does Amadeus<br />

currently play and want to play in<br />

the business travel space?<br />

A: Technology is rapidly<br />

expanding possibilities in global<br />

travel. Tech-savvy business<br />

travellers are demanding a more<br />

connected travel experience.<br />

Amadeus, as the travel IT<br />

partner, delivers a complete travel<br />

management solution; an endto-end<br />

way to control costs and<br />

empower business travellers. We<br />

aim to provide automation tools<br />

that free TMCs up from repetitive<br />

tasks and costly human error<br />

so they can focus on customer<br />

service and business growth,<br />

and communication tools that<br />

allow TMCs to journey with the<br />

customer and personalise their<br />

service. These tools offer TMCs<br />

the opportunity to cross-sell and<br />

up-sell, providing an enhanced<br />

travel experience and thereby<br />

increasing the seat value.<br />

Q: What’s your view on the<br />

African market, in terms of the<br />

space that Amadeus plays in?<br />

A: Africa should not be perceived<br />

or related to as if it were one<br />

country. Every country is different<br />

and has its own challenges.<br />

Challenges are sometimes similar,<br />

but never the same. Technology<br />

providers need to ensure good<br />

knowledge of the market<br />

requirements and challenges to<br />

go-to market. Amadeus is careful<br />

to take note of these nuances and<br />

to have customer input on market<br />

requirements to ensure the best<br />

fit for each market and customer.<br />

Q: What do you think business<br />

travellers and bookers are<br />

looking for, nowadays, from an<br />

online travel solution?<br />

A: As travellers, we enjoy the<br />

choice, freedom and personalised<br />

experience of leisure travel. And<br />

today’s business traveller expects<br />

something similar from their<br />

business travel programmes…<br />

choice, flexibility and a higher<br />

quality total-trip experience; be<br />

that from searching and booking<br />

to real-time information and<br />

experience ‘on the road’, right<br />

through to post-trip reporting.<br />

Q: What’s the Amadeus view<br />

on ‘Big Data’ and the role it<br />

is playing and can play in the<br />

business travel space?<br />

A: ‘Big Data’ in travel comes from<br />

every moment in the traveller’s<br />

journey, from airline bookings<br />

to hotel check-in. Their actions<br />

create data which presents an<br />

opportunity for travel companies<br />

to provide better-individualised<br />

services to the traveller and to<br />

improve his or her experience.<br />

Amadeus is well positioned to<br />

make this work.<br />

Q: From where do you think the<br />

next technological breakthrough<br />

for the travel industry will come?<br />

A: Simplifying the options for the<br />

traveller is a good place to start.<br />

Today, travellers need several<br />

different smart apps for different<br />

things. Any breakthrough will<br />

be in the space of enhancing the<br />

experience for the traveller and<br />

enabling the TMC to keep up with<br />

these evolving needs. Specialised<br />

or niche services will secure the<br />

business offering for many travel<br />

agents.<br />

Q: How far do you believe the<br />

personalisation of travel will<br />

evolve?<br />

A: For many clients, their mobile<br />

phone has become who they<br />

are. Therefore, personalisation<br />

equals mobile, with every single<br />

mobile user having a unique<br />

identity. Evolution in travel will<br />

undoubtedly include intuitive<br />

offerings to customers through<br />

their mobile phone. For travellers,<br />

mobile offerings will not only<br />

be something they want, it will<br />

become an expectation.<br />

Q: What are the biggest<br />

challenges faced by those<br />

wanting to push the development<br />

of travel technology?<br />

A: Today, technology is largely<br />

reactive and customer-driven.<br />

Providers must produce quick,<br />

agile technology to respond<br />

to growing needs. TMC and<br />

technology providers must work<br />

together for solutions that will<br />

make the process seamless both<br />

for the TMC and the customer,<br />

and at the same time focus<br />

on building customer loyalty<br />

through better experiences, from<br />

aspiration to book and journey to<br />

on-trip and post-trip sharing. C<br />

Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za SEPTEMBER2017 | 61


PEOPLE ON THE MOVE<br />

Senior Director<br />

InterContinental<br />

Hotels Group has<br />

appointed David<br />

Todd as its new<br />

Senior Director,<br />

New Hotels-IMEA.<br />

Todd previously<br />

worked for IHG<br />

both at the corporate office and at<br />

the company’s hotels in the Middle<br />

East. Prior to rejoining IHG, he served<br />

as Vice-President, Operations-MEA<br />

at Millennium Hotels & Resorts.<br />

Todd will streamline and accelerate<br />

IHG’s new hotel opening process and<br />

collaborate with various functions<br />

across the corporate offices in Dubai<br />

and Delhi, as well as build on existing<br />

and new relationships with owners and<br />

business partners. He will also serve as<br />

a senior member of IHG’s New Hotels<br />

leadership team.<br />

Regional Director<br />

The Carlson Rezidor<br />

Hotel Group has<br />

appointed William<br />

McIntyre as<br />

Regional Director<br />

of Southern Africa.<br />

In his new role,<br />

McIntyre assumes<br />

responsibilities for the following<br />

countries: South Africa, Angola,<br />

Mauritius, Mozambique, Zambia,<br />

Gabon and Rwanda. McIntyre has over<br />

20 years’ experience in the hospitality<br />

industry, with his most recent role as<br />

COO for the Hospitality Property Fund.<br />

Director of Sales<br />

The Carlson Rezidor<br />

Hotel Group has<br />

appointed Patrick<br />

Lan as the Regional<br />

Director of Sales,<br />

North Africa & Indian<br />

Ocean. In his new<br />

role, Lan assumes<br />

responsibilities for Morocco, Algeria,<br />

Tunisia, Chad and Cape Verde, while<br />

retaining responsibilities for the Indian<br />

Oceans including Mauritius. Lan<br />

has over 12 years’ experience in the<br />

hospitality industry, with a core focus<br />

on sales and marketing. His most recent<br />

roles include Deputy General Manager<br />

at Maritim Hotels and Group Director<br />

of Sales & Marketing at Sun Resorts.<br />

He joined Carlson Rezidor in 2016.<br />

Director, Global Sales<br />

Marriott International has appointed<br />

Brendon Hart as its new Director,<br />

Global Sales – South Africa, Sub-<br />

Saharan Africa &<br />

West Africa. His main<br />

responsibility is to<br />

maintain effective<br />

financial performance<br />

by ensuring that<br />

profitable sales<br />

are generated and<br />

operational controls<br />

are in place within a sales engine of<br />

the global sales organisation. Hart<br />

joined Radisson Blu in 2010 as Sales<br />

Executive before taking the position<br />

Sales and Marketing Director at<br />

Carlson Rezidor in 2011. He moved to<br />

Marriott in 2016 as Director, Global<br />

Sales – Middle East and Africa.<br />

Board Member<br />

WingsNaledi has<br />

appointed Gugu<br />

Sepamla to its board.<br />

Sepamla is co-founder<br />

and principal partner<br />

of Moshe Capital,<br />

and brings 18 years’<br />

senior executive<br />

experience to WingsNaledi, including<br />

12 years in company director roles<br />

on several public and listed boards.<br />

Sepamla served as the Managing<br />

Director and Head of Public Policy and<br />

Government Relations of Barclays Bank<br />

(Africa). She has also been involved<br />

in the successful transformation and<br />

restructuring of various state-owned<br />

entities over a 10-year period.<br />

Board Member<br />

WingsNaledi has<br />

appointed Nicholas<br />

Maweni to its board.<br />

Maweni brings<br />

extensive marketing,<br />

communication and<br />

legal expertise to<br />

the WingsNaledi<br />

board through his experience in<br />

both the private and public sector.<br />

He worked as Chief of Staff for the<br />

Ministry of Arts and Culture and also<br />

for the Ministry of Justice. He was<br />

the Managing Director of the Black<br />

Management Forum and was previously<br />

the Chief Marketing Executive at IBM<br />

Africa.<br />

Marketing Manager<br />

Newly appointed<br />

Group Marketing<br />

Manager of Protea<br />

Hotels by Marriot<br />

and African Pride<br />

Hotels Avukile<br />

Mabombo joins the<br />

group with a wealth<br />

of experience in brand management.<br />

His academic background – in media<br />

studies and brand leadership –<br />

underpin his many roles as a brand<br />

and marketing manager. He worked on<br />

a number of alcohol brands for RGBC<br />

and Brandhouse Beverages before<br />

joining Monster Energy as its Regional<br />

Marketing Manager.<br />

Account Director<br />

Marriott International<br />

has appointed<br />

Jeanette Moloto as<br />

Account Director:<br />

Sub-Saharan Africa.<br />

She is responsible<br />

for managing<br />

and developing<br />

relationships and business within sub-<br />

Saharan Africa across all the Marriott<br />

lodging brands. Moloto has worked in<br />

the travel industry for 13 years, serving<br />

in a range of positions mostly within<br />

the Protea Hotels by Marriott group.<br />

Previously she served as the Regional<br />

Manager, Africa, for the African<br />

<strong>Business</strong> Travel Association.<br />

General Manager<br />

Protea Hotel Fire<br />

& Ice by Marriott<br />

Cape Town has<br />

appointed Anso<br />

Venter as its new<br />

General Manager.<br />

Venter started out<br />

as a trainee in the<br />

hospitality industry, studying while<br />

working. Following international<br />

experience in England, Scotland and<br />

Dubai, Venter returned to South<br />

Africa in 2005, joining Protea Hotels<br />

by Marriott in 2007. Her first General<br />

Manager role was at the Protea Hotel<br />

by Marriott Cape Town Tyger Valley,<br />

and the three years of experience there<br />

have made her well placed to lead the<br />

popular Cape Town Fire & Ice! Hotel.<br />

62 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za


BITE WITH THE EDITOR<br />

Strong Growth<br />

Neil Bald<br />

CEO - AHA HOTELS<br />

& LODGES<br />

Aha Hotels & Lodges is Tourvest’s accommodation division and is wholly-owned by the South African TMC.<br />

In the past five years it has grown into a significant player in the Southern African hotel industry. CEO<br />

Neil Bald has been at the forefront of that growth, and was happy to unpack some of those details over a coffee<br />

with editor Dylan Rogers in Johannesburg.<br />

Alot has happened since Neil<br />

Bald joined aha five years<br />

ago.<br />

The group has grown its portfolio<br />

from 12 hotels and lodges to over<br />

40, acquired a major competitor<br />

in the form of Three Cities<br />

Hotels, launched a new brand to<br />

the market, and grown its staff<br />

complement to over 60.<br />

All of this adds up to the second<br />

biggest hotel management company<br />

in Southern Africa and the fourth<br />

biggest hotel group in South Africa.<br />

“The plan when I joined was to<br />

grow it considerably and it still is,”<br />

says Bald.<br />

So, it sounds like he is on track.<br />

The aha brand now consists of<br />

a diverse selection of hotels and<br />

lodges spread across South Africa,<br />

Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and<br />

Botswana, with the plan to extend<br />

that footprint into other African<br />

countries.<br />

“Outside of South Africa, our<br />

plan, from a hotel point of view, is<br />

to be represented in capital cities,”<br />

says Bald, whilst acknowledging<br />

that aha Hotels & Lodges still has<br />

some way to go before becoming<br />

a recognisable brand, particularly<br />

to international travellers. As a<br />

result, aha are open to operating<br />

properties under franchise<br />

agreement, if all the right boxes are<br />

ticked.<br />

“We are seeing demand for<br />

regional operators who know the<br />

lay of the land, possibly already<br />

have representation in the area,<br />

and understand how to work with<br />

the local labour force,” says Bald<br />

of the international brands who<br />

favour this approach over trying to<br />

make it work on their own.<br />

Besides the countries already<br />

mentioned, aha has fairly recently<br />

gone into Ethiopia with a deal for<br />

a group of properties over a few<br />

years. The first hotel is expected to<br />

be complete in the next year, with<br />

the second one due to start soon<br />

and two more on the cards in the<br />

future.<br />

“It’s going to be a very<br />

interesting couple of years,” says<br />

Bald, whilst conceding that the<br />

Ethiopian expansion goes a little<br />

against the grain of aha’s growth<br />

strategy, which focuses largely on<br />

South Africa and its neighbouring<br />

countries.<br />

“The plan is to grow more than<br />

one property in a destination and<br />

to ‘grow countries’,” he says. “If<br />

we do that we can start putting in<br />

country management etc.”<br />

East Africa, though, also<br />

remains of interest to Bald and<br />

aha, and whilst the group has had<br />

a look at and considered one or<br />

two opportunities in the likes of<br />

Nigeria, Ghana and Angola, one<br />

gets the sense that West Africa is<br />

currently just not as appealing.<br />

“We haven’t focused on growth<br />

too far from home, but rather on<br />

neighbouring countries and East<br />

Africa, where there just seems to<br />

be more opportunity than West<br />

Africa,” says Bald.<br />

Back home, aha are still<br />

optimistic about their South<br />

African growth in the hotel space,<br />

with Bald citing Johannesburg and<br />

Cape Town as the key locations<br />

from a business travel point of<br />

view, whilst also conceding that<br />

there is currently a hole in their<br />

portfolio.<br />

“To be recognised as a serious<br />

player, you need to have key<br />

locations, and in corporate travel<br />

you have to be in Sandton,<br />

where we currently don’t have<br />

representation,” he says. “We’ve<br />

recognised that, although it’s not<br />

that simple to get in there, but<br />

we are working on a couple of<br />

options.”<br />

From a lodge point of view, the<br />

focus is slightly different.<br />

“Growth outside of South Africa<br />

will more likely come from the<br />

lodge space, and we want to be in<br />

key/iconic locations,” says Bald.<br />

“So, it’s Etosha, the Serengeti,<br />

Maasai Mara and Kruger National<br />

Park. There is demand for operators<br />

in these locations.”<br />

Five years is a nice round number<br />

and, arguably, an opportunity to<br />

reflect for Bald.<br />

Aha Hotels & Lodges have come<br />

a long way since he joined in 2012,<br />

with the Three Cities acquisition in<br />

2014 giving the group the kick-start<br />

it was looking for, catapaulting it<br />

from 20 to 40 properties, giving it<br />

the critical mass Bald wanted, and<br />

establishing aha as a South African<br />

hotel group to be taken seriously.<br />

Now for the next five years… C<br />

64 | SEPTEMBER2017 Visit businesstravellerafrica.co.za

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