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Travel technology and how Travel Management Companies (TMCs) in Angola could attract international clients were top of the agenda during the recent African Business Travel Association (ABTA) event in Luanda.
Corporate travel stakeholders and professionals attended the event at the Talatona Convention Hotel to network with peers and debate industry trends and challenges in Angola, from airline to hotel.

The corporate travel sector is largely misunderstood in Angola, explained ABTA founder Monique Swart, who illustrated the difference between corporate and leisure travel. “Leisure travel is holidays and vacations, tours and tourist guides, spending time with family and, most of all, paid by the traveller. This kind of travel is managed by a travel agency.

“Corporate travel is MICE, making money for your company, signing new deals, meeting new business partners, missing your family and, most of all, paid by the company. This kind of travel is management by a Travel Management Company (TMC).”

In Angola, the World Travel & Tourism Council puts the split at 35% corporate and 65% leisure, although attendees at the ABTA event disagreed. TAAG Director Manuel Calçada said that statistics to which the airline has access indicate that most of the business conducted by the airline is, in fact, corporate, not leisure travel.

Swart highlighted that due to the confusion between what is leisure and corporate travel, the Corporate Travel Sector in Angola was hugely undervalued.

“Your international corporate customers want specific services and are looking for certain aspects on a Travel Management Company’s brand when they appoint an on-the-ground partner,” says Swart.

Most importantly, they expect you to have differentiated your corporate and leisure offering. There’s nothing wrong with offering leisure services, but you need to clearly differentiate the two in different areas of your website, or even as separate websites so the corporate does not think you are not clear on the difference.”

Additional brand elements Swart suggests looking at to attract international customers, include:

  • Using a company email address, and not Gmail or Yahoo.
  • A professional email signature, including various points of contact.
  • A professional logo
  • Business Cards
  • Google Business Listing

From a service perspective, international corporates expect their TMC partners in-country to book flights and accommodation, manage suppliers and secure preferential rates, and support travel policy. Additionally, TMCs are required to:

  • Provide Data on what is being spent, with whom and to where.
  • Duty of Care requirements, including traveller tracking.
  • Providing expert advice.
  • Providing extras, such as visa assistance, transfers and travel insurance.
  • Helping manage the Corporate’s total cost of travel.

According to Swart, the 12 things that TMCs in Angola should do to attract international corporate business are:

  • Understand the difference between a Travel AGENT and a TMC.
  • Get your brand right – Website, Logo, Email address. DIFFERENTIATE!
  • Get your company listed where clients can see it (Google, etc.).
  • Understand the different elements of a Corporate Travel Policy.
  • Manage suppliers – preferential rates versus standard rates.
  • Research different data tools and how to use them for your client.
  • Understand duty of care and traveller safety – how can you help?
  • Identify what makes you ‘different’ – Expert knowledge of the market.
  • Establish partnerships for the ‘Extra’s’: Visa assistance, Transfers, Travel Insurance.
  • Research the concept of ‘Total Cost of Travel’.
  • Stay up to date with global travel trends – read travel publications.
  • Stay informed about new companies coming into Angola and approach them.

The globalised world and ever-changing technology make it essential for travel agents to evolve, says José Dias Cardoso, General Manager Michelle Angelo, a Luanda-based TMC. “The event exceeded expectations. I learnt a great deal and also had an opportunity to share my knowledge. I hope ABTA returns to Angola more often to share their knowledge.”

Celina Guadalupe, Amadeus Country Manager for Angola, praised the ABTA event and the association’s efforts to share knowledge about corporate travel in Africa. “It is so important that we examine how technology can help us every day. It’s not just something to think about in the future, but we should all be looking at it now.”