Expanding into Africa
African Woman Using Telephone Concept
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Business in Africa is flourishing. With a massive potential for growth, the continent is attracting huge amounts of attention from large international companies who want to expand their footprint.

Although these are exciting times, expanding into Africa also equals rising travel costs, unpredictable economies and changing business models. To make these transitions, Travel Management Companies (TMC) and Corporate companies need a travel technology partner that can help them reduce travel costs and offer them travel booking solutions that can be adapted to their changing needs.

For the majority of travel managers, an adaptable travel programme is key, and where possible, they would like to include an online booking tool. This is to empower travellers, incorporate policies and facilitates approval processes.

When expanding into Africa, companies are looking to address a number of specific needs through their online booking tool. It is with this in mind that Amadeus has launched Amadeus Corporate Travel, a comprehensive corporate travel tool for corporate travellers, corporate travel managers and travel agencies, which was designed for the African Market.

Here’s what an online booking tool for Africa should provide:

1. Go Glocal – be smart and adapt to local markets

The online booking tool must be flexible and adaptable to easily enable requirements for new markets, such as foreign language translation and currencies. Companies often opt to work with local TMCs when they open regional offices. Not only does this facilitate the entry into new markets, it also provides the company with much-needed local support.

The online booking tool needs to adapt to local travel policies. For example, the policy within East Africa might not necessarily be the same as the policy for South Africa. In South Africa, the standard car hire might be to book a B class. However, perhaps in East Africa, companies might encourage their travellers to do a transfer instead of hiring a car. From a travel policy perspective, companies need to be able to adapt easily to each country’s unique requirements so the bookings are not deemed out of policy.

2. A small leak can sink a great ship – manage those unexpected costs!

Help travel managers have a clear overview of travel costs. The online booking tool needs to integrate easily with the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

Although in the region, some corporates are still in the process of rolling out an automated ERP, and manual uploading of transactions are the order of the day, other corporates need an online booking tool that can integrate with the ERP system, to provide a seamless booking and approval process that is in line with the corporate governance and policies.

One of the biggest challenges when managing a travel programme is managing costs and getting a clear overview of the total cost of travel. It’s one thing to be able to book and issue air tickets, accommodation and car rental, but often there are quite a number of added expenses. Although there will always be ‘additional costs’ to any trip, eg. meals, toll fees, entertainment, parking, et.c, an online booking tool that integrates flawlessly with the ERP will help companies draw up accurate budgets and estimates.

3. Don’t be caught off guard – protect the heartbeat of your company!

Travel managers face a variety of different demands and challenges daily and one of those is to provide information on traveler whereabouts and their safety in real-time. Knowing how many travellers are in a particular location, identifying who they are and having the ability to communicate with them quickly and efficiently is a basic requirement for travel managers.

Online booking tools like Amadeus Corporate Travel together with the Amadeus Duty of Care product, give travel managers a clear overview of where the company’s travellers are at all times. If the HR or Risk department asks how many employees are in London at any given time, the travel manager can respond accordingly and communicate with the travellers. The workforce is the heartbeat of any organisation, which is why the worst thing to happen is to be caught off guard, not knowing what’s happening or where the company’s travellers are.

4. Buy-in is critical – Get the vote of confidence of from within

No matter how efficient an online booking tool is for the company’s expansion needs, it is crucial that travellers and employees embrace the process. Look for people within the company who are excited about the booking tool and get them to lobby on your behalf. They’ll be happy to tell their colleagues the booking process has become easier, more efficient and with less waiting time. Remind travellers that the TMC is still there to help and remains a critical part of the booking process and support.

Expansion into Africa, although exciting, carries with it a number of challenges for the travel manager. That is why Amadeus has launched Amadeus Corporate Travel.