Sleeping easy when travelling into Africa? Tread carefully.

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KeleMohatle.JPGTravelling into Africa can be daunting for the business traveler and the corporate travel manager, says Kele Mohatle, CEO of travel procurement consultancy NaKo Consulting, in this month’s SmartProcurement.

As an area of interest for emerging markets Africa has become a global hot spot. But while business travelers are creating and strengthening relationships in different countries they are equally concerned with their health and safety; convenient travel schedules; and decent accommodation.

For the Corporate and its travel manager these ‘traveler concerns’ manifest as duty of care, the right supplier relationships, seamless travel processes and cost containment. How is this achieved? Well, it lies with the Corporate and its partner travel management company (TMC), says Mohatle.

No Corporate should attempt to tackle travelling into Africa without a partner. Without this, a Corporate would be exposing itself to the risk of lawsuits or being charged with corporate manslaughter.

A Corporate travel manager must work closely with its partner TMC to identify an agreement that will suit both parties’ needs. For example, if the partner TMC has a continental footprint or alliances within Africa countries, it is best to consider one agreement with country-addendums because processes in South Africa might not necessarily apply for Nigeria or Kenya.

First prize would be centralised, standardised processes, policies and pricing models with one partner TMC, however, there are a few challenges that deem this almost impossible to achieve, namely:

  1. Some of the TMC’s partners / alliances within African countries might have independent franchise models, and, therefore, can decide how to run their own businesses.
  2. Different country laws and regulations can restrict certain policy enforcements.
  3. Benefits within different markets from local suppliers cannot be accessed by South African-based offices.
  4. Technology is still ‘in development’ in a few African countries - it might be a while before Corporates realise ROI on any investment across the border.

Should it prove impossible to have a centralised programme, then different agreements would have to be drafted to meet the needs of different markets. However, it will still be ideal to identify a partner TMC that has the knowledge, experience and networks because:

  1. A relationship already exists between South Africa-based offices and their partner/alliance TMCs within African countries.
  2. The TMC that has the knowledge and experience can assist the Corporate in ensuring that the right relationships are established with the right suppliers, within different countries.
  3. The Corporate is assured of some consistency and familiarity in the way of work.

A centralised or de-centralised programme with one partner TMC affords the Corporate travel manager with one central point of contact, especially useful for duty of care, supplier relationships and reporting. It is important to note the above is to be considered only when the corporate is growing their business aggressively into Africa and/or have a medium- to long-term plan to do so.

For more information on Travel Procurement advisory, contact Kele Mohatle at info@nakoconsultancy.co.za

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