A survey by Sambre Corporation has unearthed pain points which if addressed can boost revenue for airlines and other stakeholders in the hospitality industry.
A large percentage of Africa’s population do not travel much, and this has got everything to do with travel and airline costs. And for those who are willing to spend more on flights and other travel costs, there are difficulties in obtaining travel documents such as passports and visas. New research released by global travel technology provider, Sabre Corporation, has revealed that only 23 per cent of those surveyed have travelled abroad in the last two years.
“The pain begins when you start the process of obtaining a Visa. The frustration that you go through trying to explain the reasons for travelling, the right documentation and approvals, travel bookings and check points at airports. By the end of the trip, you feel so disappointed,” says John Muli, a frequent business traveller.
Cate Wanjiku, who was travelling as a tourist, laments how she was required to show confirmed hotel bookings and documentation from the host to obtain a Visa. “I cannot fully explain the incredulous looks on the visa officers’ faces when I said I was not visiting friends or family in those countries but simply traveling as a tourist.”
Travel cost as a pain point
The survey unearthed pain points which if addressed can boost revenue for airlines and other stakeholders in the hospitality industry. “Thirty two per cent said travel is too expensive, 31 per cent said it is difficult obtaining VISAs, 30 per cent said it is too difficult to book travel, while 28 per cent said there are no flights to their chosen destination,” said the Sabre Corporation report in part.
The travellers from four countries – South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt who were surveyed also expressed a number of gripes about their current experiences when travelling. Twenty seven per cent said the check-in process takes too long, 22 per cent said the check-in procedure is confusing, 20 per cent don’t like the food on aircrafts while 19 per cent think there is not enough to do at the airport.
But despite the hitches, there is still a strong desire to travel more, and this points at opportunities that airlines can bank on for growth.
Opportunity for African carriers
“African carriers currently face tough competition from international rivals that control 88 percent of African airspace but, as demand for travel increases, African airlines have a real opportunity to win the lion’s share of bookings by addressing the pain points of travellers and going the extra mile to improve their experience,” said Dino Gelmetti, vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Airline Solutions, Sabre.
There is an encouragement for African carriers as Sabre’s survey respondents stated a number of reasons why they would choose to fly with their local carrier over a foreign airline. “It offers cheaper tickets, latest technology on board and greater comfort on board.”
Gelmetti further notes that airlines will flourish if they invest in technology that can make sense of customer data and use it to offer passengers the right product in the right context at the right time. “This technology, which empowers airlines to mirror the personalised shopping tactics already mastered by the online retail industry has been proven to increase ancillary revenue by an average of 10 per cent, and is being used by some of the world’s most forward-thinking carriers.”
Besides, the expected introduction of African Union passport introduction in 2018 will enable African travellers to visit other countries on the continent without a visa. This will boost air travel.