Prospects are seen in Nigeria’s corporate travels which are largely driven by business and economic activities, despite the current economic downturn facing the economy.
The American Express global business travel Nigeria, an integrated corporate travel management company confirmed this development, indicating that there are still strong prospects for travels in oil and gas, financial services, management consulting, retail, construction and engineering sectors, amongst others.
Speaking during the Executive Client Forum of the American Express Global Business Travel Nigeria, in Lagos, Louis Van Zyl, Chief Operations Officer of the company said that positive signs to show the prospects in this sector include the strong presence of international airlines in the country, content availability and expansion and international airlines trading in Naira again.
Van Zyl added that other factors include the resilience of domestic airlines, entrance of domestic airlines into the Global Distribution System (GDS), route expansion, stabilization of exchange rates, introduction of credit card payments for airline travel and oil price stabilization and recovery.
According to him, “There has been a lot of development and progress made in interactions between the airlines and aviation authorities from the government perspective. I think there have been successes in terms of making the points to government around what the specific challenges are and the authorities giving concessions and making it easier for airlines to be able to repatriate their funds.
With this development, the airlines will be committed to expanding their services and providing a service that is more effective and efficient to customers.”
The Chief Operating Officer of the company mentioned some dynamics affecting the corporate travel and tourism industry particularly Air transport in Nigeria to include economic forces (vulnerability to Oil Price fluctuations), significant downturn over the last two to three years, foreign exchange impacts and accessibility to foreign exchange.
Other factors he said are significant fluctuation in exchange rate of the Naira since decoupling from fixed rate against the UD$ (existence of the parallel market), considerations around viability of operations of major international airlines in Nigeria and fight for survival of the main domestic carrier in Nigeria, (Arik Air).
Van Zyl disclosed that in a bid to satisfy its clients, the American Express has continued to leverage travel technology, and online platform, make payment efficient, continued to focus on customer service, and provide trusted advisory services.
He also revealed plans to partner reliable and efficient domestic airlines to convey customers to local destinations. According to him, “the feedbacks from our customers show that from a domestic perspective they are finding it difficult to have that reliable service. We have taken it upon ourselves to partner with reliable airlines to a point that we could influence specific services.
“So, we had to take the option of influencing the airlines to be able to have specific timing for us and in return, we will have a certain volume of seats that we could buy for our customers. That way, we can achieve reliability and cost effective service.”
Akintayo Akintola, Commercial Attaché Corporate & SME AirFrance during the event said that AirFrance in the past few years has been able to make travel process easier and more efficient.
Akintola added that customers on the America Express platform are entitled to discounted fares, are given priority in waitlist and seat allocation and have prompt and efficient access to its corporate desks, amongst several other benefits.